One thing that surprised me when I recently interviewed Nick Adams from Priscilla, and he was saying how many letters he gets from kids in the audience who were touched by the show and his performance. So, due to the nature of your show, I was wondering if you are experiencing that as well...
Almost every other day, I have someone at the stage door who is a gay Mormon, or ex-Mormon who is gay, who thanks me for portraying that story onstage. I think that's because the song is so joyous and ironic. There's a release in it and being able to laugh at something that brought a lot of pain to people. That situation is horrible when you're in it. It's just terrible. Being in the closet is terrible, and it sucks, and it's an awful place to be, but to have it be in conflict with your faith, that gives you such peace, makes it even worse. I think getting to have a number that laughs at that pain, that takes such a horrible situation and turns it into comedy, is a real gift.
I'm curious about the development process, since you were involved in the show a long time before we all heard details about it, do Matt and Trey have to keep crossing the line to find out where it is? Or from doing South Park, do they have a pretty good barometer as far as where it is?
I think they have a really good barometer for what they need to do to tell the story, but I don't think they ever look at it through the lens of 'Are we crossing the line?', which surprised me as well. I thought, 'Do they know how far they can go, and go too far?' But it's not how they operate.
They try to tell the best story that they can, and if something is offensive, that's not why they thought of it. That's where the story took them. These are just the words, and the language, and the world that they use to communicate that story.
To them, it's not really about that line. But I'm amazed how you really feel onstage doing their words that you are on the cutting edge of comedy, like this is new territory. It's a total thrill.
Listening to the cast recording, I know that eventually, if I take my Mom to the show, she'll like it. But in the beginning, there will be moments of 'What the hell has he taken me to now?!' Especially with things like 'Hasa Diga Eebowai,' there will be moments of 'This isn't what I want to see...'
That's true. When you have your cast recording perspective, it's hard, because that song is so earned by the time you get to it, and I'm not saying people aren't shocked when it happens, but you realize the two different worlds of the Salt Lake City suburbs to northern Uganda, those two worlds are so different, and the faith and lack of faith in both is such a huge contrast.
That is the moment where we shake people up, but the story earns every bit of what those moments are throughout the show. So, if you're sitting there watching it, even if you're sitting next to Mom, you can be like, 'OK, I know why this is being said.' Maybe people don't like the F word. And then maybe this show is not for you, (laughs) but to me every bit of it is earned.