Will Swenson Takes on Seven Questions About Waitress, Hair, Murder Ballad, & The Greatest Showman
October 26th, 2017
by Josh Ferri
Tony nominee Will Swenson is back at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre as Earl, the controlling, horrible husband to the protagonist, in the hit musical Waitress. Will first joined the cast opposite the show’s creator Sara Bareilles and returns opposite the musical’s exquisite, current star Betsy Wolfe. BroadwayBox caught up with the charmer to talk about Waitress, moving Murder Ballad to Broadway, and his role in the new film The Greatest Showman.
1. How has your Earl changed with Betsy’s Jenna compared to when you played opposite Sara?
Well, reacting to a blonde wife is infinitely different from reacting to a brunette wife. Obviously. And honestly, I think it’s probably true that my Earl changes from night to night regardless of who’s wearing the Jenna name tag. It really depends on the night, the audience, or how drunk I am. KIDDING!!!
2. What do you find to be the most likable thing about Earl?
Oh, man, not much. I guess I love that he thinks he’s a total badass. He totally imagines all the girls swoon after him when he walks out of the room. And the show mentions a time when he was really there for Jenna when her Mom died and her Dad was “piss drunk every night”. So, he must have had empathy at some point.
3. Where do you think George Berger ended up in the decades following Hair? Where do you think that character was in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s?
Sadly, I always thought that Berger probably died before the ‘80s ever even got here. Probably tried to escape the pain of losing Claude with a combination of drugs, travel, and denial. So much irresponsible behavior would have caught up with him. I don’t see how Berger could have turned things around.
4. What’s a keepsake you’ve kept from a show you’ve done? Where does it live now?
I kept a Draft Card and my jeans from Hair. Ooh!, and this really great denim jacket I wore in Murder Ballad. It’s in regular rotation in my fall wardrobe
5. What did you enjoy most about the Murder Ballad experience? Do you wish it found its way to Broadway after the second off-Broadway run?
SO much. I loved the unique staging, the CAST was so great. The badass score to sing every night. I loved getting murdered 8 times a week. (Spoiler alert?) Of course, you wish all of your shows could go to Broadway. (Well, almost all of them ) Putting in the right space was super essential though. It couldn’t play at a standard Broadway house. It would need to go to Circle in the Square or convert a small theater somehow to really capture the show the way it worked downtown.
6. Which Priscilla costume did you like most and which was the bane of your existence?
I loved the cargo shorts, converse shoes and tank top because it was easy and comfortable compared to the all of the heels and platforms and headdresses and glitter. I hated the “gummy" costumes we wore for “I Will Survive”. Mine was yellow spandex. Enough said.
7. What can you tell us about The Greatest Showman? How do you fit into the proceedings?
I can’t wait to see the whole thing! It looks like it’s going to be amazing. Opens on Christmas Day! I play Hugh Jackman’s dad at the beginning of the film when P.T. Barnum is a kid. So, I didn’t have any scenes with Hugh. Frowny face. I did get to hang out with him a little though, and I’m still walking on clouds. He is the world’s only perfect human.
Don't miss Will Swenson as Earl in Waitress at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.