Five Burning Questions with Buyer & Cellar Star Barrett Foa

Last updated June 18th, 2014 by Josh Ferri
Five Burning Questions with Buyer & Cellar Star Barrett Foa

Barrett Foa may have captured your heart as Rod/Princeton in Avenue Q, Eric Beale on TV’s NCIS: Los Angeles, Leaf Coneybear in Spelling Bee or— if you’re anything like us—he’ll always be Jesus on that quintessential Godspell cast album. Well, rejoice and be exceedingly glad because Barrett Foa is back on stage at the Barrow Street Theatre starring in the acclaimed one-man-show Buyer & Cellar. Foa brings major charm, laughs and heart to Alex Moore, a young man who lands the unbelievable (and slightly odd) job of working as the lone salesclerk in Barbra Streisand’s basement shops. Below, Broadwaybox chats with Foa about Babs sightings, Comic Con and going viral.

1. Can you walk me through what would happen if you looked out and saw Babs at the Barrow Street Theatre? Have you thought about this in your mind? Did Jonathan Tolins write you something in case she ever shows?
The thing with that is I feel like she would not want people to know she was there because then she wouldn’t be able to watch the show, the actor wouldn’t be able to do the show and the audience wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything other than how she is reacting. If she were to come it would be sneaking into the balcony, undercover with a babushka and sunglasses. Or at least that's how I like to fantasize about it, and part of that fantasy is that I have no idea she is there and I just go on doing the show. Maybe when Michael Urie does it in L.A. at the Mark Taper Forum she maybe drives down from Malibu, because you could sneak into the Forum, but the Barrow Street is just too intimate.

2. What happens if you get lost during this 100-minute monologue? Is there an emergency escape plan in place?
I know what the escape plan is because I had to use it. It was my sixth performance and I had eaten a tuna nicoise salad before the show, and suddenly in the middle of the monologue, I started getting a little light headed and my tummy started being a little upset. And I thought, “I’m going to breathe through it,” but then I started stumbling because I wasn't sure if I was going to faint or throw up onstage. So I just stopped it. I said, “Guys I need to take a little breather. I’m going to go offstage, get a little water, sit down for a second and we’ll be right back. Are you guys with me?” And they started clapping. And I took a couple breaths and I thought, “Let me try to do it. If it doesn't work out, I’ll just stop again, but let’s just try to do it one more time.” And I did and got through the whole thing. And they were still with me and laughing and rooting for me. It was empowering and scary. It teaches you that you’re in charge, which is nice because it’s easy to think you don’t have control once you’re on the ride. And there was something wrong with that tuna by the way.

3. You're Eric the tech wiz on NCIS: Los Angeles, so some mini tech questions for you:
A. iPhone app you can’t live without: Open Table— I’m a foodie and I’m always eating out. I love Nest, because I love adjusting the temperature of the house by a degree from the couch or from my bed. Also, Songza, especially before the show. I play an indie playlist and it gets me jazzed and focused.
B. The coolest piece of technology you own: I would say my iPhone. It’s light, it’s portable, and it’s my mini-computer on my ear. Is there anything that’s as good as an iPhone? The other thing I really like is putting my phone down (at the theatre or at a restaurant); it makes me appreciate it again when I pick it back up.
C. The show you make sure your DVR always records: Louie, I love that show. I’m also really into Veep, and lately someone turned me onto Playing House on USA; it’s these two great comedians and it’s a smart, quirky comedy, which clearly I like.

4. What a cool job to be the social media guy for the Tony Awards. What’s your number one rule for a good social media post?
Because it’s the Tonys and because it’s theatre people, what I really wanted to do was make it interesting and funny . So it wouldn’t just be a picture of me and Andy Karl, but a picture of me and Andy Karl sparring or him knocking me out. I had a lot of ideas that never came to fruition because of logistics. For instance: eating raisins in the sun with the cast of A Raisin In the Sun or applying Mederma scar cream to Sutton Foster’s face. The other secret to having a good social media post is having famous people in there. Basically if you put Daniel Radcliffe in something, it will get retweeted.

5. What’s your best "only at Comic Con" story?
The second year I went, I had just thrown my back out and I thought I couldn't go. Then I thought about how much fun last year was, so I said, “All right, I’m going to pop pain pills and get on the train to San Diego and hobble around Comic Con.” But then there was this huge panel with me, LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell and the showrunner, and there’s me answering questions high as a kite. I don't know what I said or if I made any sense. I was laughing a lot. It was pretty loopy.

See Barrett Foa in ‘Buyer and Cellar’ at the Barrow Street Theatre through July 27.