“My life sometimes reads as the most boring book in the world, and at times I wish there were cameras around because I could make a killing from a reality show series.” These words come from Troy Wageman, longtime Seattle Actor/Director/Choreographer and (now retired) drag artiste Trojan. Anyone who saw him as a riveting Burr in Sound Theatre Company’s Gypsy/Gregory Award winning production of The Wild Party, or as the preening Gaston in Village’s Beauty and the Beast, or his heartbreaking performance in Bat Boy at Arts West, knows he can dominate a stage, and people are still talking about his direction/choreography of Second Story Rep’s Cabaret and Seattle Musical Theatre’s Altar Boys. This weekend is the opening of the first local staging of the acclaimed musical Parade from Sound Theatre Company, which he again takes on as director/choreographer. He juggled a few minutes away from rehearsal to tell us more about the man behind the musicals.
David-Edward Hughes: Am I right to assume Parade is something of a passion project for you? If so talk about what drew you to it?
Troy Wageman: Parade is absolutely a passion project for me. As it is for every single person on this team. I do not think anyone without passion for this project has any business staging or telling a story like this. Original what drew me to this was it was one of the first original Broadway cast recordings I ever bought on CD. I listened to it non-stop for months. I still do even now. Later in life some personal events lead me to connect with the story on a different level.
DEH: Jason Robert Brown is arguably the most popular composer/lyricist of his era, his songs catching on even if the shows were not huge. Talk about what his score for Parade is like and your general take on him.
TW: I think Jason Robert Brown’s score to Parade is his finest work to date. He has had many scores since but Parade is one of the best written for the stage, in my opinion. The score is epic in its sound. The melodic lines are soaring and gorgeous, and the orchestrations are hypnotic and programmatic.
DEH: As most director/choreographers do, you have certain people who you work with again and again. Who are a few of them and why?
TW: I do work with some people over and over again, because I trust them. If they are right for a project I will hire them. I have many performers that I will work with on anything, because I trust them and they bring value to the table. In this production I needed the right cast but more importantly the right technical team. My lighting designer Alyssa Millione and Stage Manager Katerina Gawlak are the two that I insisted on joining me on this project. They both are effortlessly “in my head” and that makes many aspects much easier in the process. And while we have not worked together many times before this I knew I could not do this project without my musical director Nathan Young, he brings the entire production to life.
DEH : Before this season’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” you have been an instrumental person working with local drag star and RPDR Season 8 contestant, Robbie Turner to build his persona, first as the Emcee in Cabaret then on “The Robbie Turner Revues” (performed periodically at Seattle’s Hard Rock Cafe). What do you two have that makes for such a solid collaboration?
TW: Robbie and I have known each other for a VERY long time. Probably longer than either one of us would care to admit. Much like the people who I hire over and over, Robbie and I just kind of get each other. First he is a dream to work with. We trust each other completely and have the most fun together. We both are able to adapt to any style that we want to present to an audience.
DEH: Actor, Director, Choreographer, Musician you are all of the above. Which one of these roles fulfills you most?
TW: This is an impossible question to answer. All 4 of those bring different fulfillment and stress into my life. In short I am super ADD and I don’t think I would thrive on just one of them. I head a quote once that said something to the effect of “I am good at a lot of things but have not mastered any of them”….and that’s how I like it.
DEH: You are notoriously known among your friends as being totally accident prone. Have you always been this way?
TW: Oh yes, it really is a wonder that I am still alive. Just like a bio for a show my favorites include: I have almost drowned, cracked my head open (yes I have a metal plate), stabbed through my hand, fallen through a train trestle, broke my ankle twice, snapped a tendon in my foot, countless sprains, reconstructive shoulder surgery, fallen through a trap door…. you get the idea.
DEH: What would we see in the crystal ball for Troy, artistically and personally? Also why are you and (partner of 11 years) Rusty Martin such a successful couple.
TW: Another good question with no answer. I really am planning on taking the spring and summer off completely. At this point I am pretty picky about what I spend my time on. If the right project comes up with the right people I will jump all over it. Until then…rest and spending time with people I love. Rusty and I are successful because he puts up with me. There are only a few people in my life who do.
Troy also aced the “Inside the Actors Studio”, unsurprisingly!
What is your favorite word? Yes.
What is your least favorite word? Moist
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Humility and a willingness to collaborate
What turns you off? Ego
What is your favorite curse word? Damn.
What sound or noise do you love? Water running AND the sound of Mr. Rogers cutting construction paper on his show (listen to it…you’ll know what I am talking about)
What sound or noise do you hate? Mouth noises, loud chewing.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Family Dr.
What profession would you not like to do? Anything that is repetitive.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Good work dude
Amid religious intolerance, political injustice and racial tension, the stirring Tony Award-winning Parade explores the endurance of love and hope against all odds. With a book by acclaimed playwright Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and a rousing, colorful and haunting score by Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County, The Last Five Years, Honeymoon in Vegas) Parade is based on the true story of the 1913 murder trial of Leo Frank, an historical moment which instigated the re-emergence of the defunct KKK and the birth of the Jewish civil rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League. Sound Theatre Company’s production performs on the Main-Stage at 12th Avenue Arts, 1620 12th Ave on Capitol Hill, with previews March 10 and 11, and performances March 12-26, evenings at 7:30, and March 13, 20 and 26th at 2PM. Tickets Available now online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2469886 or by phone at (800) 838-3006. Directed by Troy Wageman, Musical Direction by Nathan Young and Choreography by Scott Brateng.