Five Burning Questions with Gettin' The Band Back Together Star Mitchell Jarvis
September 12th, 2018
by Josh Ferri
Mitchell Jarvis stars as Mitch Papadopoulos (a 40-year-old former Wall Street pro who must return to his hometown of Sayreville,NJ and reunite with his high school band) in the new musical Gettin' the Band Back Together. The show ends its brief Broadway run on September 16, so if you want to rock out with the guys of Juggernaut, you have to get to Broadway's Belasco Theatre before Sunday.
BroadwayBox caught up with Mitch to discuss his time with Gettin' the Band Back Together, advice for future actors who will one day play Mitch, and the piece of Rock of Ages memorabilia he saved.
1. Looking back on your journey with this show, what’s been the high point for you?
It was probably getting back into consideration for this Broadway run. I did the production in 2013 at the George Street Playhouse, and I was a little too young at the time (I was 34 playing 40) so they moved on and tried some other people in the interim. Then around early January, they started searching again and decided to revisit me. It was a little humbling and surreal. They sent me an audition pack with my voice as the demos to learn songs I had already recorded. But when I went back in to audition for the team, it was a little like a family reunion. It was the easiest audition I ever had. That whole turn of events was probably the most exciting part of it all, and it’s a lesson in being replaced gracefully because you never know.
2. Which musical (other than this one!) has your favorite all-time rock score and why?
The show that turned me on to doing shows when I was a junior in high school was Jesus Christ Superstar. At that point, I had never acted before but I was a singer from very young—I’m from a family of singers. They were recruiting tenors from the choir in my high school, and, on a whim, I went in and auditioned. Then I quickly realized that it came very naturally to me and I wound up getting cast as Judas. It’s always been one of my favorite shows for sentimental reasons.
3. After Broadway, Gettin’ the Band Back Together will undoubtedly be produced around the country at regional theatres and schools. What do you want actors who take on Mitch Papadopoulos to know about the character? What advice would you give these guys?
Pace yourself. It’s one of those roles that is pretty relentless. I think he’s onstage for 100 out of 105 pages and sings about 60% of the score, so it’s a real lesson in pacing and learning where you can throttle back so you don’t burn yourself out. Normally I play the clown characters and this is the first time in a while I got to play the straight man, so it’s also been a lesson in learning how to play the setter—setting people up for jokes. I find that to be a very satisfying challenge. It could be a trap if you aim for laughs in this role. The focus is setting up the zaniness all around you and grounding it.
4. You opened Rock of Ages on Broadway as Lonny and closed the production six years later as Stacee Jaxx, then you went and headlined the Vegas production. After all that time, did you keep anything of sentimental value from Rock of Ages?
I wound up closing the show in Vegas almost two years ago now, and that was eight years after we initially opened. I never imagined I’d be doing that show eight years later. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But when we closed [Vegas], I snagged my mullet wig. It’s somewhere in my closet.
5. Finally, since this musical is so proudly Jersey, a little NJ lightning round:
Favorite Sopranos character: It’s got to be Tony. It’s one of the great television characters ever written. I find him such a fascinating actor.
Pick a reality show—Jersey Shore or RHONJ: I guess I would say Jersey Shore. I understand that Housewives are a thing people like, I just can’t wrap my mind around why. It's so lost on me. Maybe it satisfies what the classic soap opera used to satisfy for the general population.
Go-to order at Jersey diner: At any diner, if there's a french dip I'm getting it. I'm not sure why.
Finally, is there such thing as Central Jersey: I think there's got to be. I don't know if anyone would claim it. I find myself a centrist on most topics, so I don't know if I can deny that there's a Central Jersey.
Don't miss Mitchell Jarvis in 'Gettin' the Band Back Together' at Broadway's Belasco Theatre through September 16.