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Big Fish - Broadway

A brand-new musical based on the novel and film of the same name arrives on Broadway starring Norbert Leo Butz.

Big Fish Star Bobby Steggert on Becoming Broadway’s Favorite Son & Sibling

Big Fish Star Bobby Steggert on Becoming Broadway’s Favorite Son & Sibling
Bobby Steggert
Tony nominee Bobby Steggert pays tribute to co-stars who inspired him.

The best stage actors transcend their offstage personalities, surprising audiences by bringing an extra dimension to the characters they play. That’s certainly the case with Bobby Steggert, a polite, mild-mannered young man whose intense, commanding performances have made him the go-to actor for youthful lead roles. Since playing Audra McDonald’s brother in 110 in the Shade, Steggert has earned a Tony nomination and two Drama Desk nods while working constantly in both plays and musicals, including his current star turn as Will Bloom in Big Fish, a show he calls “equal parts dazzling and inspiring.” Steggert's Role Call traces his fast rise and lessons learned from A-list co-stars.

Role That Was the Most Unexpected
Ragtime [2009, as Mother’s Younger Brother; Best Featured Actor Tony nomination] changed my life. I auditioned for the Kennedy Center production because it was near my hometown in Maryland, so the fact that it came to New York and my contribution had any kind of standout quality was completely unexpected. At that point, I had been playing teenagers, so I was surprised they were interested in me—the role, in my mind’s eye, was someone much older. I felt a lot of freedom because I didn’t go in with a specific idea about the part. [Younger Brother] felt so isolated. He lived with his sister and had no friends, so he looked for connections in the wrong places, first with a stage star [Evelyn Nesbit] and then with a terrorist, Coalhouse Walker. I concentrated on his longing for community rather than on the places he searched for it, and I hope that humanized him. Ragtime is one of the best scores in modern musical history, and we naively thought [the revival] would run forever.”

Role That Was the Most Joyful
“I will always be grateful to my character [Jimmy Curry] in 110 in the Shade [2007] because he was pure joy, and he taught me the possibility of living with an open heart. That production was closest to my heart for two reasons: [director] Lonny Price and Audra McDonald. Lonny created an atmosphere of respect and love—the cast and crew really believed in the simple beauty of the piece. And to put Audra at the middle of it was brilliant, because she brought so much depth and humanity to the role of Lizzie. It was a completely color-blind production: The Curry family was me, Audra, another black actor, and John Cullum as the father, but none of that was commented on, which was beautiful. I was just agog by the whole experience! Being showered in rain and dancing around the stage during the finale was so magical. It was honestly the best summer of my life.”

Role I Am Proudest to Have Played
“I’m so proud of Yank! [2010, as Stu; Best Actor Drama Desk nomination]. It was a story that really moved people, and I can’t imagine wanting anything more as an actor. We started in a basement in Brooklyn, and it was a long, hard journey to get to off-Broadway. That part, Stu, taught me what real bravery is. The backdrop of the show is World War II, when men were risking their lives for their country. Stu falls in love with this all-American football star guy named Mitch, who is too ashamed and too scared to accept himself. Mitch might fare better in war, but in the end it’s Stu who will fare better in life—he is the real man. That message of self-acceptance against all odds resonated with audiences in such exciting ways. The show never made it to Broadway, but that didn’t make me any less proud of it.”

Role I Wish I Could Do Again
“On my break from Big Fish this summer, I was in Terrence McNally’s beautiful new play Mothers and Sons at Bucks County Playhouse. In my opinion, it’s Terrence’s best play in quite a long time. It centers on Catherine, played by Tyne Daly, who, 20 years after the death of her son from AIDS, gets up the courage to see his lover again. Her son’s lover has moved on with his life and is now married to a young man named Will—the character I played—and they live a very integrated, normal life in New York as gay men who have a six-year-old boy. The play explores how much the world has changed when it comes to equal rights, and Tyne Daly gives an incredible performance. It’s coming to Broadway in the spring, and I would die to play the part again somehow. I wish them well.”

Role in the Best Ensemble Cast
“The best cast I’ve ever been part of was Giant [2012, as Jordy Benedict Jr.] at the Public Theater. I love Kate Baldwin, who is also my mom in Big Fish, and I’ve always thought that Brian d’Arcy James is one of the finest actors in New York—the fact that he sings as well as he does is a bonus. I have so much admiration for Michele Pawk, John Dossett, Natalie Cortez, who played my beautiful wife, and Katie Thompson, who was extraordinary in Giant. You have to have singing talent in a Michael John LaChiusa musical, but [director] Michael Greif casts wonderful actors, and I was honored to be among them. Jordy was so downtrodden by his somewhat abusive father, but he found strength by the end and was able to respect the lessons his father taught him. It was one of those big shows where everyone knew that their small contribution added up to a really exciting sum of its parts. Even though it was three hours long, I was happy to do it every night.”

Role That Was the Strangest
“The most bizarre thing I’ve ever done was a musical called The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island [2008, as Immanuel Lubang; Best Featured Actor Drama Desk nomination]. My agent called and said, ‘There’s this show at the Vineyard Theatre and there’s no set. It’s all projections, basically a living cartoon.’ The plot was so strange, I honestly can’t even recount it. I played a character who was obsessed with the poetry found in instruction manuals for electronic devices, this weird modern poet who falls in love with the daughter of Peter Friedman. The music was by a rock composer [Mark Mulcahy] and the book was by Ben Katchor, who is a cartoonist, so it was really fun because the people involved came from such different places. It was like a 90-minute acid trip, so my challenge was finding a believable performance within such an unbelievable world. I applaud the Vineyard for doing such off-the-wall stuff, and it was a rich experience for me.” 

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