Since then, Anderson has gone on to roles in Les Miserables, High School Musical 2, and, most recently, the national tour of South Pacific. He’s the guy you want to hate because he’s better looking, funnier, more talented, and smarter than you, but you can’t, because he’s nicer than you too.
Anderson is featured on two songs on our album, “Lost in the Waves”, and “The Temp and the Receptionist” (alongside Tony nominee and classmate Patina Miller).
Buy the album on iTunes.
K&D: So, to start out, can you talk a little bit about your background? Where you’re from, your family, how you got into theater, etc. etc.
AD: I was born and raised in the Deep South in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I got into theater through band camp. There’s no irony there or thinly veiled sexual reference to my spoiled innocence. I seriously went to band camp. A lot. And not just band camp but, brace yourselves, OBOE camp. Just to clarify, that’s band camp but every hopelessly nerdy teenager there plays the oboe. (pause for reflection)
I still remember the AOL screen name of my first crush, who I met in technique class. She was an oboist. It was playing the oboe in the pit of a community theater production of Man of La Mancha that got me looking more at the stage above me and less at the 26 bar rest on the page between solos… TWENTY-FIVE two three four TWENTY-SIX two three four.
[More after the jump]
K&D: To this point, what’s been your favorite theatrical experience?
AD: Maybe it’s because the tour of South Pacific was so long that I’ve forgotten every previous theatrical experience, but I would have to say that getting the opportunity to play Lt. Cable in this incredible, timeless piece of musical theater history, and getting to sing those gorgeous songs every night with a full pit of REAL instruments (including oboe), has to be the most rewarding experience in my career thus far.
AD: Working with Bartlett Sher (the director of South Pacific) renewed my faith in the art of musical theater. The entire rehearsal process was all about grounding the characters and the action of the play in the reality of what it meant to be a soldier fighting in the South Pacific, on a remote island on the opposite side of the world. So yes, there was a great deal of research required in finding out what that meant.
I learned so much, through memoirs and documentaries, museums and movies, and of course many-a-google search. In fact, during our tour the HBO mini-series “The Pacific” aired. There were moments, watching the show on a laptop in my dressingroom, when the soldiers on the screen and I were wearing the exact same uniform, a 1st Lieutenant – U.S. Marine Corps 1942-1945. It was a great pre-show warm-up.
Anyone who knows both Michael and Chris knows they are a hilariously unlikely duo. Between Chris’s fanatical obsession with Pittsburgh sports and Michael’s apathy for all sports in general, I really have no idea how they have anything to talk about. Yet, they must talk about something because what comes out of their collective brain is inspiring. To have been there at the beginning and to have been a part of the original collaboration between these two lunatics is something I’m incredibly proud of.
Working with THE Kooman & Dimond on their original cabaret of songs with Patina and the rest of the old gang is one of my favorite memories. I can’t wait to see what’s next! Universe be damned.
What’s the best career and/or life advice you’ve ever received?
You’re never stuck. When facing a life-changing decision, or whether or not to take a job or move to another city or which school or course of study to pursue, the only wrong decision is the one where you just sit there and wait for someone or something to come along and make the decision for you. People say “Life is short”, and I think there is motivational value in that, but there’s also value in “Life is long” and the decisions you make today don’t trap you on a runaway train with no exit. You can try one path, decide you hate it, and try another. Of course there are responsibilities to take into account, and changing your mind is not always easy or convenient, but the option is there.
And when I’m 168 years old and all my failed organs have been replaced with fresh new ones from my clone on Earth 2, I’m gonna go back to culinary school and open a Japanese noodle shop.
If I were a superhero I would be Download Man. The man who can download anything from the internet onto a flash drive and then plug it into his brain, learning and understanding the information instantly. Like foreign languages or playing musical instruments or how to install a light dimmer. (not sure why Download Man doesn’t have a USB drive or Bluetooth in his temple, downloading everything directly, but it’s my superhero…OK???).
My arch nemesis would be Beerman because he makes Download Man drunk and bloated and makes Download Man sound like an idiot in all of his 15 fluent languages.
Other than musical theater, what kind of music do you enjoy listening to? Any new bands that you’re particularly into?
For I guy who thus far has worked almost exclusively in musical theater, my music collection is embarrassingly low on showtunes. There are a few. It’s a love-hate relationship I have with musicals: They either live among the most inspiring pieces of art in my life, or they feel like the 11am performance at Six Flags Over Crapsburgh.
Right now I’m listening to Fleet Foxes, Kanye West, James Blake, Beach House, John Coltrane, Chopin, Classical Guitar, Drake, Bjork
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
iPod shuffle is a dangerous game. I only do it with people I trust and have known for quite a while and wouldn’t judge me if my cruel, heartless iPod “randomly” lands on “I Saw the Sign” by Ace of Base or “Your Kiss is on My List” by Hall and Oates.
If you could date one character from a musical, who would it be?
I don’t know if this counts, but what is the name of the girl who plays the “I am 16 going on 17” part in The Sound of Music movie??? I have loved her and those piecing eyes since before I can remember.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books, what would they be?
– The End of Faith by Sam Harris (my anti-bible)
– Catcher in the Rye (ok, it’s a literary cliche. I can’t help it!)
– A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (the leading character, Ignatious, worries that after he’s dead his mother will get rich off his unpublished manuscripts and that’s exactly what Toole’s ACTUAL mother did to the author after he killed himself. WTF?)
Who/What is your favorite:
MUSICAL – West Side Story or maybe Floyd Collins
PLAY – Equus or The Norman Conquests
FICTIONAL WORK ABOUT WWII – It’s recent but the final episode of HBO’s “The Pacific” made me weep. It’s based on memoirs and biographies so not entirely fictional.
BEATLES SONG – “Julia”. Deceptively difficult to play on the guitar but gorgeous.
KIND OF PIE – I’m really more of a cake guy, and that cake would be Carrot with VERY cheesy cream-cheese frosting. Like almost not even sweet, just cheese on cake.
FEMALE VOCALIST – Bjork or Whitney Houston
SPOT IN NYC – Right now it’s a little cafe in Brooklyn Heights called Iris Cafe. Amazing coffee, and that’s coming from a true addict.
CRIME-FIGHTING CARTOON CHARACTER – Underdog. Have you heard his theme music? It’s haunting.
MOVIE SET IN HIGH SCHOOL – Pretty in Pink. It’s my sister fault.
Here’s Anderson in his CMU days, singing “And the Rain Kept Falling Down” from Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens: