Introduce Yourself(ie): 10 Questions with Bandstand Standout Brandon J. Ellis
April 17th, 2017
by Brandon J. Ellis
Brandon J. Ellis is back on Broadway bringing the laughs as World War II vet Davy Zlatic (the bass player in the Donny Nova band who uses alcohol to combat the emotional issues he suffers after returning from war) in the powerful new musical Bandstand. He previously appeared on Broadway in Company and Once before moving on to the West End production of Once. Get to know Brandon a bit better as he talks to BroadwayBox about going from cello to bass, hanging with Sondheim, and more.
1. Quality about Davy I most relate to:
The quality about Davy that I most relate to is his ability to find the humor in every situation. I try to achieve this in my everyday life.
2. Piece of music I most look forward to playing each night:
I look forward to playing "Welcome Home Finale" every night. It is so powerful and moving. It's also the hardest song to play in the show so there is some satisfaction in being able to play it now. When the rhythm section (Joe and I) got the sheet music for the first time we were like...what?
3. My favorite bonding experience with “The Donny Nova Band”:
We have really bonded the most just through the creation of the show. Most of the band has been involved for over 2 years of development; doing research together, sharing stories of our veteran family members, sharing inspiration for our story, etc... It's such a rare treat to see something you created from scratch make it all the way to Broadway. There have been so many though. I consider these guys, and gals, to be my family now. Geoff Packard had his first child while we were at Paper Mill, Ryan Kasprzak had his first child while we were at Paper Mill, Corey is having his first child any day now, and Nate Hopkins got married right after Paper Mill. We have seen each other through a lot. Also, the Bandstand fantasy football league. I will be champion this year!
4. My go-to drink order:
I go through phases, but usually a Guinness and a shot. (Glenlivet 18 with 1 ice cube when I'm gainfully employed.)
5. Thing I hear most often from friends and family after they’ve seen Bandstand:
"This show completely caught me by surprise." This show has a lot of humor and heart and sometimes people don't see the heart coming.
6. My history with the bass began:
I am a cello player first, but I was asked to pick up bass for an audition when I was 18. I learned for that audition and then put it away until auditions for Company in 2006. Getting my bass playing up to speed for this show was a lot of work. The writers were not pulling any punches with the arrangements. These characters are musicians and their music is vital to the expression of their emotional life. I needed to, not only be able to play swing bass well, but have the bass be an extension of myself through which I tell the story.
7. My most cherished memory from the last revival of Company:
I have so many fond memories from the 2006 revival of Company. That was my Broadway debut so it will always hold a special place in my heart. Sondheim invited the cast over for an opening night party and that is an experience I will never forget. I got to sit in his music room, hear his stories, and talk with him about music. He was so generous with his time and advice.
8. The coolest part of my Once UK experience:
Doing Once on the West End was a dream come true. I was bumped up from a cover position (in the Broadway production) to take over the role of Bank Manager in the West End company (which is incredibly rare for anyone, much less an American.) I'd say getting to be onstage every night was the coolest part. However, Russell Crowe took us all out to dinner one night and that was pretty damn cool too.
9. The last thing I splurged and bought myself:
Glenlivet 18 with 1 ice cube.
10. TV series I love so much I could watch it over and over:
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia or 30 Rock. I can re-watch any episode and still laugh all the way through.
Davy takes bare knuckle boxing matches for beer money. Evidence above.
Don't miss Brandon J. Ellis as Davy Zlatic in the new musical 'Bandstand' at the Jacobs Theatre.