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Dead Poets Society Stars Talk Scotch Bonding Sessions, Memorable Rehearsals & Their High School Selves

December 13th, 2016 by

JoshuaFerri Share
Dead Poets Society Stars Talk Scotch Bonding Sessions, Me...

One of the hottest off-Broadway plays of the fall is the world premiere of Tom Schulman's Dead Poets Society at Classic Stage Company. The John Doyle-helmed adaptation is completely sold out (though they did add a final extra performance Sunday, December 18 at 7 PM, which is a benefit for CSC’s education programs and probably your only chance to see the play). Screen star Jason Sudeikis makes a killer stage debut as inspirational teacher John Keating, and he's joined by half a dozen sensational young actors who play each of the distinct Welton Academy students.

Dead Poet's Society- off Broadway- World Premiere- Classic Stage Company- Jason Sudeikis

Photo by Joan Marcus


BroadwayBox caught up with the guys to learn more about each as we talk rehearsals with John Doyle, dream roles, their high school selves, and their Dead Poets characters.

William Hochman (Knox Overstreet)

William Hochman - Knox Overstreet- Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
I don’t think that there was one specific film or play or moment, really, that made me want to be an actor. It was more of a feeling that grew and persisted for years until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. So I feel very lucky now to be working professionally, especially in DPS (which is an absolute dream come true), and with such a phenomenal group of people. All of that said, I remember being majorly moved and inspired by Catch Me If You Can.

2. My favorite book I read in high school:
East of Eden.

3. Album I completely wore out in high school:
Be by Common.

4. The most memorable day of rehearsal had to have been:
Day One. We were timid and shy and feeling each other out. Whether intentional or not on CSC’s part, it was absolutely the first day of school, with John as our Keating. I thought the first rehearsal was going to have a Syllabus Day kind of feel to it. I was wrong. John scrapped the table read and we got right to work, barely knowing each other’s names. It’s been a journey ever since.

5. If I could give high school me one piece of advice:
Watch Dead Poets Society.

6. The way in which I relate most to my Dead Poets character:
Knox is open and honest. I try to live my life in the same way.

Cody Kostro (Charlie Dalton)

Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway- Cody Kostro -Charlie Dalton

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
T'was not a film nor a play but Saturday Night Live that made me want to be a performer. I got my start in the 6th grade in a daily sketch/improv show I hosted during recess.

2. Album I completely wore out in high school:
I listened to Nevermind (Nirvana) every day of my junior year of high school.

3. My Shakespeare dream role:
My dream Shakespeare role is Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

4. Off-stage the guys in Dead Poets bond over:
Almost everybody in the cast is a UFC fan. We go watch fights together whenever we get a chance.

5. The most memorable day of rehearsal had to have been:
Most memorable day of rehearsal was our final dress. The infamous "Robert Frost" line drop. (As referenced on The Tonight Show Ep. 575) Theater historians will forever debate whether it was me or Zane Pais who fed Jason the line.

6. The way in which I relate most to my Dead Poets character:
I relate most to my character because I am the class clown wherever I go. Charlie has no filter and that is a gift/curse that landed me in detention many times. But like Charlie, I try to live with honor and loyalty to my friends.

Yaron Lotan (Richard Cameron)

Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway- Yaron Lotan - Richard Cameron

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
Funny enough, it was A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was in fourth grade, and our class put on a super-abridged version of Midsummer. I really wanted to play Puck, but so did two other boys. Our "audition" was the teacher asking each of us individually if we'd be willing to play a part other than Puck. The other two boys were polite and said yes. In most other situations, I think I would have done the polite thing as well, but I said no, I only wanted to play Puck. And so I played Puck.

2. My favorite book I read in high school:
Harry Potter and Of Mice and Men are two that come to mind quickly. I started reading The Brothers Karamazov and really enjoyed it. Never finished it, but I want to go back and tackle it soon.

3. Album I completely wore out in high school:
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  If there's one thing the other guys in the cast know about me, it's that I'm a huge Kanye fan. He's my problematic fave. He's so brilliant I can't help but forgive him for most of the dumb stuff he says. I like The Life Of Pablo even more, now.

4. The most memorable day of rehearsal had to have been:
Maybe it was when John told us the story about him staging Sweeney Todd (feat. Patti LuPone, duh) a few years back. When they were starting out in the rehearsal room, he noticed an empty shoebox in the corner, and decided to use it for the time being as a baby coffin. I never saw the production, but apparently the baby coffin was quite a hit. I loved watching how the simplicity of "well, it was just lying in the corner and I decided to pick it up and use it" tickled John in the retelling of it.  There was a real boyish, mischievous look in his eyes, as if he tricked everyone into thinking he's a genius (which, it goes without saying, he actually is.)

5. If I could give high school me one piece of advice:
There's not a whole lot of advice I could give my high school self that I don't still need to hear now.  But I guess one big thing is: know your worth.

6. The way in which I relate most to my Dead Poets character:
I relate to Cameron in many ways, believe it or not. I don't think I was as adversarial as he is, but I did often feel like I was at the fringe of my own group of friends. In hindsight, the people who bullied me the most and really got to me were the ones I loved and laughed with the most too. I also went to a boarding school—one of a very different nature than Welton, it was an arts school in Michigan—but the intense pressure-cooker experience of living, eating, studying, doing everything with the same people, that can really be difficult to handle at times. It forced me to grow more in those few years than I had my entire life prior.  All of this made itself a pretty easy entryway to understanding Cameron.

Thomas Mann (Neil Perry)

Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway- Thomas Mann- Neil Perry

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
Apollo 13... My dad's favorite movie.

2. My favorite book I read in high school:
Not Great Expectations. Maybe hmmmm maybe Of Mice and Men. Short but effective.

3. My Shakespeare dream role:
Hamlet.

4. Off-stage the guys in Dead Poets bond over:
Scotch.

5. The most memorable day of rehearsal had to have been:
When John Doyle (author of Shakespeare for Dummies and director of the play) gave me a crash course in iambic pentameter.

6. If I could give high school me one piece of advice:
Care more about learning. You can be cool later.

Zane Pais (Todd Anderson)

Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway- Zane Pais - Todd Anderson

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
Really tough question. But—I just watched Paris, Texas again with some of the castmates and Harry Dean Stanton's performance is something else. I'd love to be able to be that simple one day and still convey everything that the script calls for and far more. 

2. Album I completely wore out in high school:
Guero by Beck, or Elephant by The White Stripes.

3. My Shakespeare dream role:
Lady Macbeth.

4. Off-stage the guys in Dead Poets bond over:
A beer at The Grassroots Tavern on St. Marks. This place is cheap, filthy, ancient, and has a jukebox with some killer blues and ‘70s funk. Also, free popcorn.

5. If I could give high school me one piece of advice:
High school is not reflective of the real world.

6. The way in which I relate most to my Dead Poets character:
I wouldn't say I'm quite as shy as Todd is, but I do definitely need my own space. I recharge when I'm by myself or with a few close friends max. I'd almost always rather be camping over going to a party if given the choice. 

Bubba Weiler (Steven Meeks)

Dead Poets Society- Off Broadway- Bubba Weiler - Steven Meeks

1. The play or movie that made me want to act professionally:
When I was little I wanted so badly to be one of the boys in Stand By Me.

2. Album I completely wore out in high school:
Blue—Joni Mitchell

3. Off-stage the guys in Dead Poets bond over:
We’re all madly in love with our castmate Francesca Carpanini. 

4. The most memorable day of rehearsal had to have been:
About a week in to rehearsals we were given a surprise day off so we decided to carpe diem and took a spontaneous trip upstate: we hiked and made a fire and read poetry in the woods. Even though it was technically a day off, it ended up being our most important (and definitely most memorable) rehearsal. 

5. If I could give high school me one piece of advice:
Read more books, dummy. 

6. The way in which I relate most to my Dead Poets character:
I’m the youngest of six siblings who are constantly making fun of each other. On the first day of rehearsal our director John explained that Meeks is the runt of the group, the butt of the joke.  I looked around and counted exactly six of us and was like, “I think I’ve got this.”

If you can snag a ticket, you only have until December 18 to see the guys in CSC's premiere of 'Dead Poets Society'.