EF - Being in this industry can be tough, did your
parents ever try to stop you?
MB - They questioned it. I came from a small town in rural Ohio and nobody in that area had done anything like this. It would have been more practical for me to be a doctor or lawyer. My parents always supported me though. They were skeptical for my own sake just because they were watching out for me. It is a difficult business financially. It is not as constant as other professions. There is a lot of downtime. You have to be willing to get through that and love what you are doing. No matter what you decide to do as a profession, you have to love it.
EF - Support in the acting industry is important; you mention in the Playbill; friends, parents and the coolest three younger brothers ever, tell me how they supported you?
MB - My family is especially happy for me and glad that I'm happy. They are very proud of me. My younger brothers are kind of following in my footsteps [With a proud smile]. My friends are mostly theater people. They are very supportive and happy. I try to support friends who are out of work or finding themselves going through tough times. We try to help each other.
EF - People say being An actor is cut throat - do you agree?
MB - I am envious of other actors who get roles that I audition for but I don't despise them or their talent. That is jealousy. That is something that can break you down. If someone is giving you a hard time for your good fortune, then I don't know how good of a friend they are.
EF - What kind of perseverance does it take to make it and stay in this industry?
MB - You have to be very sure of who you are, sure of your talent, and willing to always learn. If somebody tells you they know everything, they are probably wrong. You have to work on your craft whether it be your voice or your body. It is a relentless profession. You are always striving to make it better. I've done Saigon over 550 times. Just because I've done it that many times, doesn't mean I'm always satisfied with it. It changes all the time for me. The human element changes the show drastically. Everyone's energy is different. You need to try to make each time you do it better.
EF - When did you feel you made it as an actor?
MB - I don't know. There were several times that I felt great about getting a job. I've been working in the profession for seven years now and I always keep learning.
EF - What attracts you to do a particular role?
MB - We can't be that choosy. There are only limited amount of shows that are out there. There are a majority of actors in Actor's Equity that are unemployed. It is unrealistic to say that I'm going to get every role that want. When I was in college, I had the CD for Miss Saigon and realized [Chris] was a role I could do. I hoped that one day I would have the chance to audition for it.
EF - This is a good lead in to my next question. How did the role in Miss Saigon come up?
MB - I eventually got an agent in NY and told them I was right for this show. They said the next time an audition came up they would submit my picture and resume. An audition came up, they submitted my resume and I was invited in. I saw the show in NY. I went to the audition, did my own thing and got very lucky. I got hired.
EF - I'm sure there were a lot of actors auditioning, what do you think gave you that edge over the other actors auditioning for the role?
MB - Whenever you do something, you should believe in it. You have to dedicate yourself to it. I don't know if I had an edge. It could have been my look or the fact that I had dark hair and they had blond hair. These are things I can't control. I know I went in there as confidently as I could and as prepared as I could to sing the music. Being yourself is important. It is when preparation meets opportunity .
EF - There have been a lot of actors portray Chris, have you seen any of them?
MB - Yeah, a couple.
EF - With that in mind, how did you make your approach to the role unique?
MB - I never went out and tried to do the same thing as say Eric Kunze or Tyley Ross (actors who have played Chris) did. I would watch and observe. If there are things similar in my life to the character I would leave them alone. If there are things in the character I need to go to, I'll try to meet the character there. Bringing the character to you, I think is a selfish action. You need to approach and become the character.
EF - How would you compare and contrast yourself to Chris?
MB - Well, I've certainly not been in a war. I am almost the right age for the part. I'm pretty right for the age when the show jumps ahead 3 years. I have a lot of compassion for the show and for the Asian culture. There is a growth of consciousness that happens to Chris between the time he loses Kim in the evacuation to when he marries Ellen. If we can make the audience believe that Kim and Chris are in love then the rest of the story is cake.
EF - How did you research or prepare for the role?
MB - I tried talking to Vietnam Vets. It is hard to get some of them to open up. It is a sensitive issue. I did research finding out what the war was about, what happened. I read diary journals which told me the most. There is a book out there that has a lot of letters sent home from soldiers. This proved very useful.
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