Alex Brightman is currently performing the role of Jonah in the world premiere musical Soon at Signature Theatre. On Broadway Alex has been seen in Matilda, Big Fish, Wicked and Glory Days which was written by Soon composer/librettist Nick Blaemire. Off Broadway credits include The (M)orons Happy Hour and 35mm (world premiere). Select regional credits How I Paid For College (world premiere), Nobody Loves You (world premiere), Next to Normal and The History Boys (regional premiere). Alex has appeared on TV in Royal Pains and Important Things w/ Demetri Martin and in the films Plan B and Red Hook.
As you have read, Alex has already had some pretty impressive credits but for me, creating a role in a brand new musical is by far the most impressive. In Soon people will be able to say that Alex Brightman created the role of Jonah. Anytime you create something it makes the work that much more special. Signature Theatre is known for producing first class world premiere musicals and I’m sure Soon will be another example of this. Alex Brightman and company are bringing something brand new to you the audience member. That should be reason enough for you to catch Soon. With Alex’s credits and talent, what other reason do you need?
What was your first professional job as a performer?
I was incredibly fortunate to be cast in the regional première of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys in Los Angeles at The Ahmanson Theatre. I left college to do the play and getting to work on that beautiful show was an education that far exceeded my time at any school anywhere. I figured then and there that I learned by doing.
How do you best describe your character in Soon, and can you also tell us a little bit about the show?
The show asks a very simple question: What do you do with the time you have left? In this case, the world is ending and we witness the actions or non-actions of one particular young woman, Charlie, living in the Lower East Side of New York City. Through her lens, we are introduced to her estranged mother, her gay roommate, and her very new boyfriend, Jonah, the character I play.
Jonah is the heir to a grocery store delivery chain (think Fresh Direct). He is optimism incarnate and has, up to this point, had no true burdens. He falls for Charlie, warts and all, and despite the inevitable end of the world, Jonah asks the question, “Why not fall in love, even when everything will eventually end?”
You were part of the musical Big Fish on Broadway. Can you please talk about the experience of working on that show and why do you think it didn’t have a longer run?
Big Fish was my very first Original Broadway Company and I couldn’t have had more fun being a small part of something wonderful and fresh and exciting. I got to work with some incredible performers (Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin, etc.) and the equally incredible and prolific Susan Stroman. It was a rigorous process because the show was so large and bombastic and required many moving parts at all times. It was my kind of show. The feedback from the show was mostly positive from the people I had talked to at the stage door every night. Shows close for all sorts of reasons, and I can only speculate and take educated guesses as to why our run ended earlier than anyone thought. All in all, the alchemy within that special group of people was palpable and I still talk to them almost every day. It was a great experience. I wish it had lasted longer. But it happened, and that’s pretty excellent.
You went into the Broadway musicals Matilda and Wicked as a cast replacement. Is it easier to be with a show from the beginning than it is going into one after it has been running for awhile?
There are upsides and downsides to joining a show as a replacement. There are more upsides than downsides. One huge upside is that someone else long before you have figured out a lot of the technical work (where to stand, where not to stand, where to change, etc.) and you can focus on the creativity of the thing. I had only a week and a half to learn my role in Wicked and three weeks to learn my role in Matilda. Time is a downside. It never feels like enough time, but the truth is, there isn’t a right amount of time. At some point, you have to be blown out of the cannon and make a couple mistakes so you can learn from them. The huge upside to being a show from the beginning is the creation process. No matter how many productions happen after the one you create, that role will always be yours first. Right now, someone is playing a role that Alex Brightman created, and that’s a really fun thought.
After Soon what do you have coming up?
It’s weird to think about things after Soon considering we have just begun performances, but I do have a couple of things coming up. One of the things I am actually not allowed to talk about. I’ll give you a hint…it’s going to be REALLY FREAKING COOL. I am also a writer and my writing partner (Drew Gasparini) and I have been hired to write a musical adaptation of a feature film. Again, I wish I could disclose more, but people get upset when you speak too soon. The first thing I’m going to do when I get back to New York City is find an apartment…because right now, I’m homeless.