An Interview with Tony Award Nominee, Rob McClure! Actor, Inspiration, Friend.

February 27, 2014

I love the theater! My father and uncles were in show business when they were younger, performing and touring in various Broadway shows, so from a very young age I listened to show tunes and had a deep appreciation for learning all about, “The Great White Way.” As a little girl, I was always singing, dancing, and the moment I stepped foot on a stage I fell madly in love with everything about performing.

My Father (right) performing in 1968 musical, “The Happy Time.”

There is something magical about an actor transforming into someone or something else using emotions, expressions, and costumes to tell a story. I believe sometimes words are just not enough and the reason characters break out into song and dance is to communicate at a deeper level. 

Theater has been a part of cultures for centuries. Its main goal is to entertain but often times can bring a deeper appreciation for life, the human spirit, bring people together and tell stories that can be passed on for generations to teach various lessons and inspire. 

I will never forget sitting in my summer musical theater conservatory class at The Paper Mill Playhouse, watching Rob McClure perform. This was the first time I understood what acting was truly all about. In class, each of us would select a song and with the accompaniment of a piano would perform it. We would critique each other’s performances and discuss strengths, weaknesses and ultimately help take the performance from good to great and make it “audition worthy!
Although Rob sang a very happy, uplifting song I remember having tears stream down my cheek as he sang because I was so incredibly moved. He made the song COME TO LIFE. I was no longer sitting in a chair in a cold classroom…I was right there with him on this amazing adventure. There was something truly special and unique about Rob’s ability that was inspiring.
That summer, I looked to him as a mentor. He had this amazing ability to leave Rob behind and channel whatever character he was playing in that moment and make courageous choices. The abilities Rob demonstrated at a young age were the mere beginnings and foundation for his now successful, flourishing acting career.
Sharing the same enthusiasm and passion for theater, we became great friends…I will never forget when we got tickets and went to see Avenue Q on Broadway together. During intermission, Rob turned to me and said, I have this character’s voice down. I am going to audition and be in this show! If it was anyone else, I might not have believed it was possible, but it was Rob…
It was not too long after that night that I was back in the audience, only this time I was watching Rob make his Avenue Q debut! It was amazing to go back stage after the show… What was a dazzling, hilarious, energetic set was now still and silent. The life-like puppets I laughed with and cried for during the show were now just hanging props. It was easy to appreciate the magic of the theater and the talented actors in a moment like that.
Rob performing with his wife, the beautiful & talented Maggie Lakis
Breaking into show business is one of the most difficult things to do. The business is competitive and filled with rejection and criticism. Despite the difficult odds, Rob is someone who turned a dream into a reality.
What sets Rob a part from other actors is his ability to take on anything and his demonstration of the connection between mind and body. He sets no limits on himself and transforms. He believes he can do anything, and he can. Learn how to twirl a rope like a cowboy? No problem! Bring a puppet to life? No problem!! Learn an accent? No problem!!! Play one of the most iconic figures of all-time, starring as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin? NO PROBLEM!!!…Rob was later nominated for Tony Award, “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical” for his portrayal of this legendary, iconic figure.
Rob has no fear and embraces every challenge as an opportunity to learn something new and exciting! He serves as an inspirational example to never doubt yourself or set limiting blocks. Believe in yourself, set a goal and work hard to achieve it. Positive thinking and a willingness to let go and “go for it” will allow you to keep moving forward with your goals. Having a strong sense of self, knowing your capabilities and exuding a “YES I CAN” attitude is what will open doors and ultimately lead you down a path where YOU are using YOUR skillset and talents to shine!
Rob has always been a mentor, inspiration, and friend…So, I sat down to pick his brain and share with you his healthy mind-set and experiences! I hope it inspires you to believe in yourself and that anything is possible, whatever your dream is.
Find out who YOU are and what YOU are right for… and then suddenly you’re not a second rate anybody, but a first rate you.” – Rob McClure 
 

 
QUESTIONS:
1. When did you first know you wanted to be an Actor? 
I was 15 years old, and had just done my very first musical in High School. I didn’t know if I was good at it, I just knew it was the most fun I’d ever had. Then I happened to go see a little community theatre production of “Sweeney Todd”(I had auditioned for it and not got a part). That show has a surprise ending, and I distinctly remember being so enthralled that I wept. I remember thinking, “tomorrow, there are going to be 100 new people here who don’t know that’s coming… I HAVE TO BE THERE WHEN THEY FIND OUT!” It was $12.00 a ticket, every Fri, Sat, and Sun for 2 months. I saw EVERY performance of that show. The cast got me a “cast jacket and mug.” I was a total groupie. It changed my life. I needed to be involved. I didn’t care in what capacity. I just wanted to be around that feeling. By the end of the run, I was no longer watching the show. I was watching the audience watch the show. That relationship fascinated me, and still does.
2. Why do you love to perform? 
I love performing because of the effect storytelling can have on people. It changes you. Human beings have the ability to interpret stories and internalize them and reflect in a way that can transform them. It’s about that. So many actors talk about the “moment they felt the spotlight on their face.” That makes me wanna vomit. It’s not about attention. It’s not about applause. It’s about communication. It’s about make-believe. It’s about allowing our collective imaginations to take us somewhere else, and put us in someone else’s shoes. We become better, more compassionate people because of it.
3. Auditioning is a brave thing to do! How do you get yourself to feel your best when putting yourself out there to be judged and possibly criticized? 

You have to recognize that it has very little to do with you being “good enough.” It has more to do with being “right for the part.” Don’t get me wrong. You have to have the goods when the opportunity presents itself, but there are a million factors, other than your abilities that factor it. Once you learn that lesson, you can walk into an audition room and basically say…Hi, I’m Rob. This is what I have to offer your production. Either that’s valuable to the story you’re trying to tell or it’s not. Have a great day! 🙂That way, you’re not waiting by the phone and in fear of being “rejected”. You just weren’t what they needed… AND THAT IS OK! It’s the name of the game. Move on.

4. Can you tell us what it was like to get your first Broadway role? How did it feel stepping on a Broadway stage for the very first time? 

My first Broadway show was a miracle. I was working in the Paper Mill Playhouse Box office. I was offered the job understudying a character in Herb Gardener’s beautiful play “I’m Not Rappaport.” I didn’t want to give up my salary at the box office for the chump change I would make as a non-union understudy, so I asked if I could keep my job in the box office, and if they needed the understudy, just call my phone extension, and I’ll come backstage and do it… THEY LET ME!!! HAHA. Two weeks into the run of the show, the producers came into the box office, and told me that the show was moving to Broadway and they wanted to take everyone. I was handed my Actors Equity union card, and within two months, I was in a play on Broadway. It’s insane.

In terms of the feeling of walking onto a Broadway stage, of course, it’s a rush. But, believe it or not, it’s the same as any other stage. There’s the story being told and the audience taking it in. The only difference is the feeling of reverence. You’re in a church. Those buildings are show biz temples. Haha. I always like to know the people who had my dressing room before me. At the Barrymore, I was in a dressing room shared by Gene Kelly, Sidney Poitier, Geoffrey Rush, Philipp Seymour Hoffman and many others. You can feel it.

5. From your first Broadway show to STARRING in one as CHAPLIN IN CHAPLIN; What was it like to play such an iconic figure? 

It was such a thrill. It comes with a lot of pressure because he is so well known, but I thrive under that kind of pressure. I love to rise to the occasion.
First time spotting CHAPLIN Ads… I was SO PROUD!!
 6. Chaplin was a very physical performance. Can you tell us about the stunts/acrobatics and how you prepared for this role? 
I had to learn to walk a tightrope16 ft. above the stage, play the violin, roller-skate blindfolded, an assortment of hat tricks, and a lot of little acrobatic stunts like tripping and doing a backward roll without spilling a glass of wine. It was intense.

7. How many shows did you do a week?… In such a demanding role, How did you keep your voice and body healthy throughout every performance? 
Eight shows a week. It is definitely demanding physically, but that’s what training is for. You learn what your body can and can’t handle. For example, I learned that after I eat at night, I have to wait 3 hours before I go to bed. This allows your system to digest, and prevents acid reflux from attacking your vocal chords at night. It’s also great for weight maintenance. I find that I gain weight, or have a tougher time losing weight, if I eat right before bed. All of these little tricks help.
Chaplin

8. I think actors are a lot like athletes, conditioning for a game- Do you agree?

 

Completely. It’s all about knowing what it takes to maintain, and doing it religiously. It’s your job to.

9. What are some “must dos” for Rob McClure? How do you stay at the top of your game for each role and performance? 

Each role is so different. I have a couple of fun warm-ups and things that I take with me… When I was doing an earlier incarnation of Chaplin at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, we had a 10 a.m. Student Matinee. I got to the theatre at around 9:10 a.m. and very quickly realized that I was NOT physically, vocally, or mentally ready to do this show…
So to quickly warm up, I ran the entirety of the theatre, meaning I started near the stage and ran through every row and aisle putting my arm out and touching every seat. When I got to the top of the balcony, I did my vocal warm up, and then ran back down. I felt so great afterward that I have done it every performance since. This is a tradition going on 5 years. It doesn’t matter what or where the show is, I now run the theatre before “half hour.” It’s become a tradition.
10. Your roles are so moving. You go from highs to lows in minutes…Where do you draw these emotions from and how do you channel these characters to bring them to life? 
It’s all pretend. I’m not one of those actors who thinks about my dead dog to cry. I play the scene. If the scene gets me there emotionally I cry. I do think that it’s possible to draw from your own reality, but you’ll do that anyway. It’s not helpful to me to think about anything other than the truth of what is supposed to be happening. IF I was this person, IF this was happening to me, IF I was in this place, how would I feel? It’s all imagination. It sounds simplistic but it’s the reality of how I work.
Over The Rooftops! -Bert in Mary Poppins

11. What do you think makes you the great actor that you are? 

 
OH gosh! Well, thanks! I guess I would say I have a sense of play and a willingness to TRY ANYTHING. I think people respond to a sense of abandon and whimsy, and a sense of “going for it.” Nowadays, I seem to get hired, not for what I CAN do, but for what they know I’ll be willing to attempt.
Avenue Q
12. Dream role? GO! 

That’s SO HARD. I’d love to be in Sweeney Todd one day. I don’t care what role. Just to give back to the show that gave me the “nudge.”

13. Who are your dream cast mates- Male/Female- Go! 

There are so many. In the theatre world, I’m a huge Danny Burstein fan! I also think Jessie Mueller is unreal. Both great performers who can make HUGE BOLD choices, while remaining COMPLETELY grounded. It’s a skill I admire so much.

14. What is your best advice for young actors? What can they do to get cast in a show? 

Stop trying to be the performers that you admire. They exist, and will get the jobs that they are right for. Find out who YOU are and what YOU are right for… and then suddenly you’re not a second rate anybody, but a first rate you.

15. Where can we look for you next?

I’ve got a new show coming to Broadway later this year called, “Honeymoon in Vegas” starring myself and Tony Danza! Check my website for updates and info on other appearances: www.RobMcClure.com
Sneak peak of “Honeymoon in Vegas” with Tony Danza!
 
THANK YOU ROB! 
 
The Balanced Beauty prediction is: This is only the beginning!
 
 
 
Check out Rob’s website for an official Bio, Photos, Videos, Press and more!

It takes a very brave person to be an Actor!

You are constantly putting yourself out on display and must take the very best care of yourself in order to put your best foot forward at all times. Roles can be demanding and require every ounce of your energy and emotional strength.

In order to maintain your health and the ability to perform at a professional level, proper nutrition and physical fitness should be a priority at all times.

Everything from your headshot to your presence at an audition needs to reflect the BEST version of YOU!If you are interested in Private Health Coaching, Email Info@TheBalancedBeauty.com and we can put together a customized package to get you looking and feeling your best!

Hi, Beauty!

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