Behind the Music(al): Christopher Sieber

Christopher Sieber is absolutely hysterical.  If you don’t know this, you’re probably in a coma.  And you’ve probably been in it for the last ten years.  In which case, our deepest sympathies, because you’ve missed his hilarious turns in musicals such as Spamalot, Shrek, Thoroughly Modern Millie, La Cage aux Folles, Beauty and the Beast, and Chicago.

The thing that separates him from the rest of the pack of actors known for their comedic work, though, is the warmth that he brings to each role he inhabits.  From a diminutive villain with a rather large Napoleon complex to a wolf with an appetite for blonde girls and their grandmothers, somehow you can’t help falling in love with the guy.

We were thrilled when he agreed to record a song for our album, continuing to demonstrate his comedic chops with each hilarious choice he brought to the somewhat obsessive protagonist of “To Excess”.

Buy the album on iTunes.

He was also kind enough to answer a few of our questions:

Can you talk a bit about how you got started in theater?  

I was always a class clown and turned it into a career… I had some great teachers in junior and senior high and they helped me find schools and encouraged me to get out of my small town in MN and head to NY. other than that I was always in community theatre and loved it…

You’ve already had an incredible career, having appeared in numerous Broadway shows, playing a wide variety of characters, to widespread critical acclaim and an impressive list of awards and nominations.  What’s next for you?  

I am going on tour in La Cage Aux Folles with George Hamilton. Now, I did that on bway with Harvey Fierstein but in the other role…so it should be a challenge and a chance to be someone else!

Has any book/music/lyric suggestion you’ve made in rehearsal made it’s way into the show?  

So much I can’t even tell you, I can say when you help create a show, a lot of yourself gets put into the script and the staging, its always weird to see someone doing what you created, it’s just not the same, it’s not their fault, it was just built by YOU….and putting someone else’s essence  on another person is somewhat unfair…It is however very cool at the same time to see what someone else does with the words and staging you have created.

You’ve played the stage versions of animated villains in both Beauty and the Beast and Shrek.  Of all the villains in all the cartoons of all time, who is your favorite?  Why? 

Not just because I played him, but Farquaad is my favorite… He is so much more complex than regular villains, he has issues with his father, his mother, his height, his need for control, his cruelty, He has  a sick joy of being so mean and ruining beautiful moments…very very needy..which is so much fun to play!

What are your goals as you look at the future?  Any particular role you’re dying to play?

I still want to play Harold Hill in  Music Man!! As far as the future? just keep keeping on! In this business you are never done, you have never “made it”, the second you start resting on your laurels you can lose your focus and work ethic…gotta keep going!

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?  

I had a teacher tell me when I was having major second thoughts about going to NY to do what I always wanted to do…she said, “Christopher, be afraid, be scared to death, don’t let fear ever stop you.” I am scared and always have doubts about my abilities every time I start something new….I just take a breath and go for it full speed even if I suck…you’d be surprised at what you are capable of if you just get over yourself.

What excites you most about your life as an actor?

I love the danger of it all, anything can happen in live performance, I always look at theatre like an air show, where the planes are soaring and doing acrobatic tricks, barely missing each other in the air, with the sick hope of seeing a crash…You can’t tell me you don’t feel the same way.

You were recently nominated for a Drama Desk Award  and a Drama League Award for your role in The Kid, which documents a gay couple’s experience with adoption.  What was it like to be a part of a piece that dealt with such a culturally relevant issue at such a critical time?

One of my favorite roles, and I hope to do it again! you really had to go down the rabbit hole with this one, the focus and drive to maintain for 2 and a half hours was draining, however,  It was great and challenging, playing Dan Savage a living breathing person who is very well known. Dan would come to the theatre and watch the show, normally I don’t mind when i know people are in the audience, but when you are literally playing a living icon and he is watching you play him is a different thing entirely. It was a funny thing, the show was about two gay men going thru an open adoption, but, ultimately it was just about a couple like any other couple wanting to make a family. it was a love story on so many different levels, Love between Dan and Terry, love between Dan’s mom and him, love of friends and more importantly the loving bond of the birthmother and Dan and Terry. they made the choice to do an open adoption so the birthmother would always be part of their son’s life…

You’re renowned for your comedic ability.  When did you first realize you were funny, and what role has your sense of humor played in your life and career?

I was a fat nerdy turtle of a kid…huge thick glasses, I was always teased and bullied, then I found out that to diffuse a situation I would make an ass out of myself and self deprecate, find why the situation was so absurd that they would want to pick on me and make light of it…and the bullies would leave me alone…  so I guess, humor is a defense mechanism for me.

If your life were made into a movie, who would play the role of you?

Just because I think it would be funny: Richard Simmons

If you could travel through time where would you go?

Back to when the bible was written and end the hate filled interpretations from the right wing and evangelists, bring those people back and tell everyone what they really meant….it would be hilarious..

Any really embarrassing on-stage stories you’re willing to share?

During Shrek, i have this huge number where I danced on my knees, and at the end I had a monologue after, I only had about 10 seconds to catch my breath, well I had to barf…..also, I had these little puppet legs in front of me as i was kneeling to make me look short, I was getting into place for “Duloc” my big number where my character is introduced, well one of the puppet legs broke off right before the curtain went up. I yelled to one of the stage managers “I broke my leg!”. with that: pandemonium ! everyone was freaking out, and I mean everyone…ushers, the orchestra…until they saw me walk and they saw the puppet leg dangling from the front…the show stopped for about 5 minutes…it was nice that the cast and crew actually cared that much about me…

What/Who is your favorite:

– Musical:I really like Avenue Q…its the one i listen to most…but Mormon is a close second
– Book: any JD Salinger
– Monty Python sketch: the “guard scene” from holy grail,  brilliant!

– Vegetable: Broccoli rabe
– Short person:Billy Barty
– Non-showtune song: “One for My Baby”
– Board game: Sorry…it’s easy and diabolical
– Corny joke: whats the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Anyone can roast beef.
– Line from a show you’ve been in: ” You’re a phony celebrity kid, in a couple of weeks, nobody will know who you are…..That’s Chicago.”
– Favorite song to perform in a show: “The Speed Test” , from Millie

Check out some videos of Christopher:

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