Telly Leung: Interview

And this is a high-energy show, so it seems like once it starts, the train's rolling...

And you can't get off.

So, how do you keep yourself... well, obviously right now you're drinking herbal tea.

Yes, I'm drinking herbal tea with honey and lemon, and not just honey, but local honey from Union Square, because that's supposedly a homeopathic remedy for allergies. If you eat local, spring honey, for spring allergies, it will build your own body’s immune system up against the pollen and the things that make you allergic. So, the honey man knows me very well. I've bought honey for the second floor of this theater, but I still have buddies that are doing Rent, so I sent a giant jar of honey over to Rent, as well.

How do you keep up that level of energy 8 times a week, though?

We definitely try to take care of ourselves. Rest. Very light on the socializing and the partying. But sometimes on a five-show weekend, sometimes you just need a candy bar, sometimes you just need a Sugar Free Red Bull to get you through your next show.

So, if you open my fridge right now... there's coconut water to keep us hydrated, Jameson (whiskey) for a Sunday night when we're all done, and in the back is a 12-pack of Sugar Free Red Bull. I kind of wish Red Bull would sponsor our show because we use it so much.

And what do you feel is the message of Godspell? It seems like, right now, there's a lot of seemingly religious shows on Broadway. There's also Jesus Christ Superstar, Sister Act... I'm not sure if we can count Book of Mormon as a religious show... but Godspell doesn't seem to be a specifically Christian message.

It's interesting there's all these "religious" shows on Broadway, I see Sister Act and Book of Mormon in one camp of show, where we are not PC anymore and we can approach religion with a little bit of irreverence, and a little bit of folly and fun.

Musicals have always sort of done that in the past. Like you could say there were adorable nuns in the Sound of Music, so we've sort of done that . Nunsense certainly touches on that.

But with Book of Mormon, I love that show, because they poke fun at it and yet I leave the theater feeling inspired, and feeling that religion is important in our world, and feeling you have to have faith in something. And the similarity is all of these shows do say that.

When you leave the theater, they clearly say faith is important, whatever that means... I'm actually not a very religious person at all. I never grew up in a religious home. My parents are not religious. There are certain things that are part of the Buddhist religion that are kind of in Chinese culture, but those lines are very blurred from my upbringing.

But I think there is a certain desire in 2012 to connect with something spiritual, and something that says it's going to get better. Again, to speak on other things that are happening in our world that makes these pieces relevant, the whole idea of The Trevor Project and 'It Gets Better,' I think we're a society in 2012 right now that needs hope, and needs to believe our better days are coming.

You can think of that in a religious way and think paradise and heaven and all of that, but I don't. I have to have faith in humanity and my fellow human beings in my country and my community, my president, whatever it is... that things will be better.

That's a long rambly answer, but I think we need that. You can have a lot of fun at Sister Act. You can have a lot of fun at Book of Mormon. But you do walk away with something. Godspell. You can have a ton of fun at Godspell, but you do leave changed a little bit. We spread that message through joy. Jesus Christ Superstar is a wonderful example of a show that kind of takes the lens and shows the story from a whole different perspective, and I still think people walk away feeling inspired by that story.


elph's picture

A most thorough... and impressive interview!

It truly makes Telly Leung "come alive!"

Very much appreciate the connections made with George Takei and referencing his contributions to LGBT issues.