Broadway Actors on Sharing the Goodnight Oscar Stage with Sean Hayes
After more than a decade of appearing in Broadway musicals like “Spring Awakening” and “Waitress” Alex Wyse welcomes the opportunity to be part of new stage and film projects that do not require him to sing.
The Ohio-born actor is currently in “Good night Oscaris now playing at New York’s Belasco Theater. Primarily a biographical play, Good Night, Oscar has moments of innate theatricality and even melodrama. Still, Wyse says the play’s “down-to-earth reality” gives it the ability to enliven a character with nuance, even as it provides comic relief.
“It feels like there’s some cosmic reason I should be doing this, and I haven’t had too many moments like this,” he said in an interview with HuffPost. “Not to mention musicals, which are still a big part of my life, but I feel like I’m finally getting a chance to show theater audiences that I’m a real actor, which hasn’t always been confirmed by the jury industry around me.”
Written by Doug Wright, Good Night, Oscar stars Sean Hayes as Oscar Levant, a classical pianist, composer and occasional actor who made it world fame during Hollywood’s Golden Age, but is best remembered for his snarky late-night talk show appearances in the 1950s and 1960s.
During his lifetime, Levant was also outspoken his experiences with depression and drug addiction, leading some to do so to brand him “America’s first publicly dysfunctional celebrity.”
Wyse plays Max Weinbaum, a Hollywood nepo-baby-turned-production assistant tasked with managing a stressed-out Levant – recently released from a mental institution under false pretenses – before his appearance in Tonight in 1958 to keep with Jack pair.”
The role of Max was played by actor Ethan Slater in Good Night, Oscar. debuted last year at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. When Slater couldn’t repeat his performance on Broadway afterwards Participation in the filming For Wicked, Wyse actively sought the part, auditioning for producers several times over a two-month period.
“I felt from the start that it was supposed to be like this [the script] “I found my desk,” he recalls. “It answered so many questions I had about the kind of work I want to do and the kind of people I want to work with.”
Levant, who died in 1972 at the age of 65, is not a well-known figure of entertainment to modern audiences. Likewise, Wyse was unfamiliar with Levant’s work beyond his supporting role in 1951.An American in Paris.”
Still, he believes “Good Night, Oscar” offers a look at how attitudes toward depression and addiction have changed since the late 1950s, examining how artists often “compromise their sanity in order to do their work to advance”.
Hayes’ Depiction the Levant has collected widespread recognitionand the “Will & Grace” actor is being considered a front runner for a Tony Award next month. For his part, Wyse describes his co-star as “relentlessly positive, funny and down to earth”.
“He’s incredible in the game – we all know that – but he was incredible in the game [rehearsal] also in the room and backstage,” he explained. “I’ve never seen anyone understand their own power so well and only use it for good. Nothing about him is a diva.”
He continued, “Sean has been a hero of mine for so long, and working with him feels like it lifts my soul into the stratosphere every day.” I’ve been on sets before where a lead actor was rude or kept their distance or isolated themselves, and that really affects all departments. But sean is here because of the problem. He wants to make you artistically equal.”
Good Night, Oscar is actually Wyse’s second big project this spring. “Summoning Sylvia“, an independent film that he Co-writer and co-director with his longtime friend Wesley Taylor was released in March. The LGBTQ-inclusive horror comedy follows a ragtag group of friends who embark on a weekend getaway with gay bachelors to a haunted house and features a cast that includes Travis Coles, Frankie Grande and Michael Urie.
“The most important thing for us is that we didn’t want to kill gay characters,” Wyse said of the film. “We’ve seen enough of that. But we wanted to use the conventions of the horror genre to reveal something about queerness, and also that comedy and horror work hand-in-hand to create different types of tension throughout the film.”
Wyse and Taylor, another Broadway veteran, previously worked on “indoor guys“, an award-winning digital series. They hope the release of Summoning Sylvia will allow them to move forward with their plans for three more film projects and a stage play.
Though Wyse doesn’t say what the upcoming projects may entail, beyond the coming-out story viewers can expect a deeper exploration of queer identity and a smashing performance from one or two leads.
“I don’t take a step out of the door every day with my peculiarity. I step out the door with my foot and then I keep walking,” he said. “That, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to be political without being overtly political — just to show that we’re people that exist in the world and have issues that aren’t tied to our identities.”