SB - That's hard. He's a guy with really good intentions. He is a victim of his environment. He's thrown into this fast paced world in LA out of nowhere, right out of Texas.
EF - Do you think there are real "Buddy's" out there?
SB - Yes, I do believe there are real Buddy's out there... I'VE MET THEM!!! It always amazed me how many people would come up to me after the show and say "I used to be just like your character!!!" Knowing that is also what made me strive to be as honest about the character as possible. I wanted people to recognize him and not just laugh at or be offended by him.
EF - How did it feel to be involved in a show that was written and inspired by someone's life experiences (Steve Schalchlin)?
SB - It was a gift. It really was a gift. To have people who are really going through this with you, Steve, Jimmy and their circle of friends. That was an amazing thing. I think how deeply we all felt it came out onto stage with us. Every night singing "Going it Alone", Steve was in the back of my mind.
EF - It reminds me a bit of Rent. I remember reading somewhere that the original cast who worked with Jonathan Larson had a special something they brought to the stage that other casts could not get. You and The Last Session cast working with Steve reminds me of that.
SB - When you are there creating a character, you basically set a standard. You form the character to your own unique talents. Unfortunately for whomever comes after you, he tries to fit in with something that was created around a unique individual. A perfect example is when I was an understudy for Michael Cerveris in the tour of Tommy, he created that from the ground up. All I could do was try to fill the footsteps as best I could, hit all the marks, and maybe put a little of my own flair but within the boundaries set by him. It is hard job.
EF - Did you see the guy who replaced you in The Last Session in the role?
SB - No, We worked a little bit together much in the same way I worked with Michael.
EF - I don't know whether you realize this but Steve Schachlin wrote about you on the Talkin' Broadway forum. He wrote about you singing "Going it Alone" and how that song reveals so much. He said when your throat catches during the reading of the letter, it used to choke him up every night. He went on to say that as Buddy sings it, he begins to see this song as an act of pure love on the part of Gideon and it starts to get to him. The pain and the hurt are totally real and Stephen feels it.
SB - Oh, Steve. He's amazing. It was an amazing song to work with.
EF - I don't know how you sang that song without breaking down yourself. To distance yourself must be hard.
SB - It is really hard. There were a few times where I would get frustrated with myself because I would let myself get emotionally involved with the song. Sometimes that was a distraction from Buddy. I had to be real clear with myself when I was out there. When you sing such a powerful song it is hard to put whatever went on in your day aside and realize it is just Buddy singing.
EF - Have you ever read some of the reviews? One said "Stephen Bienskie manages to make the homophobe funny and oddly ingratiating. He is the most fully realized and endearing member of the group." What is your reaction to that?
SB - Wow. Thank you! That is a great compliment. It goes back to what we were talking about before. There is nothing really evil about him. He doesn't even know he's homophobic. He just knows what he believes to be right and wrong. Homophobic is probably not even in his vocabulary. It would be like any of us trying to make a moral judgment on a culture we know nothing about.
EF - How did you want people to leave the show? What should they be feeling? Let's broaden it to any show you are in. How do you want people to leave a show after seeing you in it?
SB - To have felt something, to come out a little bit different, thinking a little bit more, and feeling the show impacted you in some way.
EF - Going back a little bit, we were talking about uncertainties that actors face in this business. Did any of these uncertainties sway you from going into the field?
SB - There were times when I got down on myself. I always knew though at the end of the day there was no real choice. This is what I do. It is especially hard in the musical world. I actually never wanted to do musical theater. I had no desire.
EF - You wanted to do more straight acting, dramas?
SB - Yeah, I was getting my training in acting. I happened to be a rock singer. I never had any big dream to be in Miss Saigon, Les Mis, NOT THAT I WOULD TURN IT DOWN, MIND YOU!
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