[Broadway Ad Network]

[Broadway Ad Network]

  • LazarBaldwinGiant.jpgMichael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson's musical Giant, an adaptation of Edna Ferber's 1952 novel about the history of Texas in the early 20th century as seen through one of its reigning ranch families, opened last week at the Dallas Theater Center in a production starring Aaron Lazar, Kate Baldwin, PJ Griffith, Dee Hoty, and John Dossett. (It had previously appeared in a different form and with a largely different cast at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, in 2009; read our earlier story for more information about that version of the show.) Lazar, a baritone well known from his appearances on Broadway in The Light in the Piazza, the 2006 revival of Les Misérables, and the 2009 revival of A Little Night Music, agreed to answer a handful of questions about his work in, and his experience with, the musical.

    BroadwayStars: Did you see the original production of Giant in Arlington? If so, what did you think?

    Aaron Lazar: I didn't see the 2009 production. My friend Betsy Morgan was in it and we talked about it.

    BS: Had you read the original novel or seen the movie before being cast in the musical?

    AL: I hadn't read the novel. Saw the movie when I was a kid. Didn't remember much about it other than it being epic and some questionable make-up choices. :) Read the book during rehearsals and it helped to flesh out my choices for Bick and give backstory on all the relationships.

    BS: What have you found the most challenging part of creating your character?

    AL: Having to drop in and move between intense emotional moments very quickly.

    BS: What has it been like working with Michael John LaChiusa and Sybill Pearson on this? Have they given you any particular insights, or made adjustments to the role based on your performance or feedback?

    AL: They are glorious. Both are incredibly open and supportive. Michael John tends to be hands-on with adjustments. Most of mine have been to sing the score more. I have two duets, one with Dee and one with Kate that are each 15 minutes long and I instinctively tend to lean towards acting them more than singing them... I'm working on doing both equally.

    BS: What has it been like working with Michael Greif? How you perceive that he has helped shape your performance and the piece as a whole?

    AL: Michael has blessed us with one of the best creative processes I've ever experienced. He's very open, very patient with an actor's choices. He understands and fosters rehearsals through tech and even previews as a developmental process, and yet at the same time he is very specific and detailed about what he wants. I have loved working with Michael on this piece. He's brilliant.

    BS: How is the rest of the cast?

    AL: One of the best groups of people I've ever worked with. No egos. Not one bad apple. Everyone is in it to win it with all their hearts. It's been fantastic!

    BS: Given that almost the entire show is set in Texas, and the state essentially functions as one of its main characters, how have Dallas audiences been reacting to it?

    AL: It's been interesting. They started out a little slow... felt like we were being judged a bit. But then they've really picked up and now we're able to share this piece with the audience, really connect with them, feed off their energy and tell them this incredible story.

    BS: What is your favorite part of the show to perform?

    AL: Man, that's a tough question. There are many. Every moment onstage with Kate Baldwin is a gift. I love my fight with PJ. I'd say the [next-to-last] scene "The Desert" is my favorite. Hardest material I've ever worked on and also the most rewarding.

    BS: What is your favorite part of the show that you don't necessarily perform yourself?

    AL: Vashti's "He Wanted a Girl" or Juana's "What Where When Why Who." Those songs as performed by Katie [Thompson] and Natalie [Cortez] are as good as musical theater gets.

    Photo: Aaron Lazar (right) with Kate Baldwin in Giant. Photo by Karen Almond.

    Why are you looking all the way down here?
    For more articles by Matthew Murray, click the links below!

    Previous: 7 Questions for Sybille Pearson about Giant

    Next: Doesn't Anybody Ever Get it Right?

    Or go to the Archives

[Broadway Ad Network]

[Broadway Ad Network]