Q: Where are you from? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I think the biggest thing to prepare me for a life in the theatre is that I spent most of my free time as a kid imagining and creating stories in my head. I always felt very comfortable living in the imaginary.
Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I did my undergrad at the University of Minnesota where I was in a theatre department with hundreds of students. I made a lot of friends and did a ton of shows. My graduate degree is from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where my class numbered seven. A much more intense, concentrated experience.
Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of great companies. Some of them are the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Glimmerglass Opera, the Cleveland Play House, the American Shakespeare Center and the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater. I loved playing Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream; Betty and Gerry in Cloud 9; evil Richard in Richard III … and I’m looking forward to new favorite roles!
Q: How did you prepare for playing the role of Edgar Allan Poe? Are there any challenges you faced or anything you’re most excited about portraying Poe?
A: I re-read as much of Poe’s writing as I could. Portraying a writer is a windfall for an actor because I could glean so many insights from themes and stylistic choices that repeat from story to story. For instance, many of Poe’s characters have a weakness for alcohol … but almost all of them realize that this trait is destructive. It told me that he was aware of the destructive aspects of his own drinking. There are also reports by contemporaries of Poe about everything from how he stood to what his voice sounded like. And, finally, I grew my mustache, which was probably the most important leg of my journey to becoming Poe. Seriously, the challenge with portraying a historical person is that there will be Poe enthusiasts who have done more research that I have done who will quibble with my choices. I can’t satisfy everybody and my main goal is to make this Poe’s final journey understandable to our audience here in Charleston. I’m really very excited to speak some of Poe’s masterful words out loud in a building that was standing at the same time that he might have wandered the streets of Charleston.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I play my ukulele, I practice yoga, I cook (I love grits and I’m getting better at preparing them!) and I try to explore this “mystical kingdom by the sea,” Charleston. As a Wisconsin boy, I have to admit that I miss the leaves changing color but I don’t miss the temperatures in the 30s (as they are today in Milwaukee).