A staunch member of the Seattle Musical Theater community, actor Nick DeSantis specializes in fabulous eccentric roles. Village Theatre audiences will recall him as a flickering Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, the flaming choreographer Roger De Bris in The Producers and most recently Mama’s boy turned murderer Kit Gill in No Way to Treat A Lady, while 5th Avenue fans know him from such shows as Sunday in the Park With George and numerous others. And, he won great acclaim in a non-musical tour de-force as Charlotte in Arts West’s I Am My Own Wife. Now, on the week of opening as the Proprietor in Sondheim and Weidman’s infrequently staged Assassins, he graciously took a few moments away to chat with SGS.com
David-Edward Hughes: Talk about your role in Assassins and your feelings about the show and process.
Nick DeSantis: I don’t actually play an assassin…I play a character called “The Proprietor”. He’s the owner/operator of this Whatever-it-is limbo in which all of the assassins exist. He may (or may not 😉 ) have an agenda of his own. This show has been on my bucket list for as long as I have been aware of it. I think it’s brilliant, disturbing and enlightening. It’s really amazing how a show which debuted Off-Broadway in 1990 still comments so sharply on so many issues that are spread all over our current news daily. Since it’s not a show with lots of choreographed numbers – at ACT we have spent a great deal of time working on characters and their inner lives and the dynamics of their fictional interactions in the play under the amazing direction of John Langs….who is scathingly brilliant. He asks a great deal of this cast – and all I can say is that we are killing ourselves to give it to him. The work has been difficult, challenging, exuberant and rewarding. The other day in an audition for another show (you can never stop looking for work in regional theater!), the director asked how things were going. I could only answer honestly: “Well, some days I feel really good about what I’m doing…and other days I want to hide, cry and quit theater forever. So I think we’re doing some really great work!”
DEH: Assassins is a dark show. What do you think is the value for an audience seeing it now?
NDS: I agree, the subject matter might seem a little macabre, but sometimes when a subject is scary or controversial, it can be SO instructive for an audience (hell, and certainly for the cast). As I mentioned, the piece seems scarily current when you scan the headlines these days. Gun control, immigrant fear, the poor and disenfranchised masses….these are all of the things the show talks about. Just yesterday in rehearsal, John read us the news blurb about the Kalamazoo shootings and while we stood there in the rehearsal room in a stunned silence, we realized that this shooter, whoever he was, shared a dark similarity with these historical assassins. He possibly felt disenfranchised, or lonely, or insignificant. Maybe he was mentally ill, which is not something we deal with very constructively in this country for the most part. It was a sobering moment. Things that are true don’t really fade or disappear over time.
DEH: I first saw you in Second Story Rep’s first production of A Little Night Music as part of the Quintet, and later at the 5th you did Sunday in the Park… and now this. What other Sondheim roles in shows are on your bucket list?
NDS: Well…pick ANY of them! LOL. A boring answer, I know – but certainly true. I would love to be in Follies someday. I’ve never actually done a production of Sweeney Todd and that would certainly be a dream. I really loved playing Pseudolys in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I certainly wouldn’t hate being The Baker in Into the Woods. I mean – let’s face it – the man is an unequivocal genius. Basically, I’d perform his grocery list if given the chance.
DEH: You are an actor married to an actor (Art Anderson is Nick’s spouse). Is that sometimes challenging?
NDS: You know? It never has really been an issue for us. Maybe that’s because we met at an audition where we were both called for the same role (Rooster in Village Theatre’s Annie in 2003)….so we kind of started from that place so it just seems normal. Art is so wonderfully supportive of me and I of him. Of all the things that can make a 13 year relationship challenging, competition between us has just never been on the radar, thankfully.
DEH: What do you do between artistic projects.
NDS: Well….certainly look for other artistic projects! But I sometimes teach or coach – but not terribly often. I knit..I’m not very good. Mostly, I can only make rectangular things. I make stained glass windows. I’ve done a few commissions….I’m getting better at it….and that’s a lot of fun. I kind of always have to be making something, so at any given time there are 4-6 partially finished craft projects all over the house. Art loves it. That’s a lie, he doesn’t, but he kindly humors me. As for all of that extra time…there are always computer games. I’m a rather obsessive gamer. I know. Not exactly a MENSA pastime…but why lie about it? I love it.
DEH: What director and actor in Seattle are you dying to work with.
NDS: Hmmmmm……tough one. I’ve already worked with so many wonderful people. I’d love to work with Allison Narver, I did a reading she directed of Rich Gray’s “Cold Turkey” and I thought she was awesome…I’d love to do a show with her. I’d love to share the stage more substantially with TONS of Seattle actors that I have done shows with but not really ‘worked’ with like Anne Allgood, Suzy Hunt, David Pichette and Peter Crook. I’ve never worked with Charles Leggett and I think he’s amazing. But for all that – I think it’s true that any actor is just DYING to work with anyone who will hire them. It’s just an innate lust for the work….whatever it is!
And now, to conclude here is Nick’s take on the Actor’s Studion Q and A
- What is your favorite word? Ostensibly
- What is your least favorite word? Ladle. In my house we have to refer to it as “the large, bowl-like spoon”
- What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? A sense of humor….and colored LED lighting.
- What turns you off? Arrogance and unchecked narcissism
- What is your favorite curse word? Fuckstick
- What sound or noise do you love? The little “tik tik tik” my dogs claws make on the floor when they come running to you.
- What sound or noise do you hate? I have no idea why, but pouring boiling water into a mug is a sound I really don’t care for.
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I think I would be a really good therapist. I’m a great non-judgemental listener. I mean – I’m TOTALLY judgy…but you can’t tell that when I’m listening. 😉
- What profession would you not like to do? Teach
- If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Not bad”.
Assassins is a co-production between ACT and The 5th Avenue Theatre being staged at ACT’s Falls Theatre now through May 8, 2016. For tickets, go HERE! (Reportedly, ticket sales are very good for this show and many of the later dates already have limited availability; for best seat options purchase tickets now for performances from March 18 through April 7th!)