Justin Collette makes his Broadway debut leading the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical School of Rock. The Canadian multi-instrumentalist plays Dewey Finn, a struggling musician who pretends to be a teacher and then forms a band with the kids in his class. Justin is also the co-founder of the award-winning sketch troupe “Get Some!" and stars as Cupcake in Netflix's new animated series Cupcake and Dino: General Services. BroadwayBox caught up with him to talk about life at SOR, his rock influences, and unwinding with reality TV.
1. What’s your warm up like for School of Rock:
It's an all day gradual warm up, slowly preparing my body for the battle that is this show. I usually sing along with some rock tunes before I go on, but lately... if I'm being honest... it's been Ariana Grande.
2. When did you first start playing? What do you consider your main instrument:
I started playing guitar on my 13th birthday which I consider to be my first serious instrument. I played piano briefly as a kid, but it felt more like a chore. I picked it up again in my early twenties and lately have been playing that more often than anything else.
3. Biggest lie you told to get a job:
I don't think I've ever lied to get a job, but I've definitely lied ON the job. One time I was working as a parking lot attendant in the winter, and my boss offered me the use of the company van to keep warm for the night. What he didn't know was that I was 15 and did not have a license. I made a judgement call and took the keys. I learned to drive a car for the first time using the instructions written in the car (use the brake to shift from park, adjust your mirrors). He found out the next day but never said anything knowing that we would both kinda equally get in trouble.
4. What subject would you feel most qualified to teach the youth IRL:
Bizarrely, I actually have a real teaching degree. My teachables are English and Theatre, but I think teaching chemistry would be pretty fun.
5. Most influential rock album for you growing up:
Blink 182's Enema of the State. Hands down. Come at me.
6. What’s your most memorable audition story:
Auditions absolutely terrified me for years until I started doing a lot of commercial auditions, then you kinda don't care anymore. I remember one commercial I was auditioning for the director needed me to be "bad" at tennis (A sport I have never played). He made me mime playing tennis over and over again for like 15 minutes, and stopping me to say I was too good at tennis. In the end he said "You're a tennis player aren't you? Well thanks for wasting our time." It was the most complimented and insulted I've ever felt in a single moment in my life, pretty incredible stuff. Since then I've realized all auditions are insane and all you can do is your best and to try and not care as much as possible about the outcome.
7. If you could give Dewey one piece of advice:
Shower. There's like, a bunch of times in the show that people tell him he smells bad and there is just no excuse. Use some of Patty's bath balm and chill out in a fun bath.
8. Favorite place to get a cupcake in the city:
So sad I do not have an answer to this. I'm more of a savory guy. Though I will say, a chocolate chip and walnut cookie from Levain and a black coffee is maybe the best we can do as humans.
9. Last Netflix show you binge-watched:
Nothing on Netflix recently but I just devoured the last season of Masterchef on Hulu. Reality cooking shows are how I unwind.
10. Who do you credit as having the biggest influence on your comedy?
As an actor, for sure Peter Sellers. Dr. Strangelove is one of my favorite movies of all time. As a writer, it's gotta be Trey Parker/Matt Stone. I have seen every episode of South Park more times than I care to admit. Also John Swartzwelder, you know his "voice" but you've probably never heard of him. He's the most prolific writer for the Simpsons and his detective novels are stupidly hilarious.
Don't miss Justin Collette as Dewey Finn in 'School of Rock' at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre.