Anthony Lee Medina: Interview

So, after the show, I had him sign my Playbill, and there are these girls who have created elaborate Marc Anthony collages, and he's signing them, and they're losing it and fanning themselves like they just won Miss America, and he and I kept talking, and I think it's that thing where it's refreshing for him to talk to me, because he can tell I have no fucking clue who he is before seeing him for the first time three hours ago.

I knew Paul Simon was the only person that didn't come out, and then I see a black van pull up like 40 yards down the block, by another door, so I go down there and he comes right out. And I am the only person there. Everyone else is waiting down at the other stage door.

So, I do the whole "Paul, I really love your music, loved the show tonight, could you sign my Playbill..." and he grabs my pen, and puts it on the Playbill, making a dot. And then he starts in with "You know, I'm not sure I want to make signing a whole thing tonight... and it becomes this whole event..." And, at this point, there's no one else there.

He sees the other people are now coming our way, but if he just writes nine letters, he can jump in this car before they arrive. And he spent so much time not signing it and telling me why, that at this point, then everyone was around him, and he's telling everyone else why he doesn't want to sign...

Oh, Paul... Paul...

It was just an odd thing. Was he involved in your production?

Oh yeah!

So, you had a different experience than me?

I turned down the audition for Capeman originally, because I was in Orlando. It was right when we closed. And my agent sent some video of me singing a song and Paul e-mailed them to have me come in. And I didn't know who Paul Simon was! I know who Marc Anthony is, because I grew up in that culture.

OK, so we're seeing pop culture is different for Latinos and white people growing up... (laughs)

Yes! (laughs) So, I went to the audition. I was sitting outside, and he came in, looked at us, and walked inside. And I thought he was auditioning. I thought it was his turn. Because I'd never seen the man in my life, and I don't know any of his music. So, I went in and sang two songs that they had me learn, and then another song with another actor.

Paul was just sitting behind the table and after the song said "This can work..." and then walked out. And I was like OK?! and they were like 'Thank you so much, we'll get in touch with you soon...' And I walked outside and I said, who was that guy? And I'm saying this to a group of people who are all ready to audition, and everyone goes "WHAT?!"

People were writhing at me and screaming "Oh my God, how do you not know who that is?" And they start naming all these songs, and I'm like, "Oh, Bridge Over Troubled Water, I sang that in choir!" That was the only thing I knew. So, I made a pact with myself, because when I realized how famous he was...

I mean, I knew who Diane Paulus (the director) was at the time. She was at the table and I got nervous about her. So, I decided I'm not looking up anything about Paul Simon, I refused. And everyone kept trying to tell me things, and I was like "I don't want to know, because I won't be able to work with him... I'll be starstruck."

But he made me come in two to three weeks earlier than we started rehearsals, and I would just sit in his office and sing with him, because it's all doo-wop, so he wanted me to be comfortable with it. So me, Frank Negrón, and Paul would sit there and just go through music.

So, you had a doo-wop tutorial from Paul Simon?!

Yes! And I walked into his office, and still didn't know anything about him, and the first thing I saw was a case with 14 Grammys, and I was like "Oh my God! What am I doing here?! I shouldn't be here!" He was really easy with me. He definitely knew what he wanted, a stern man, but he wasn't going to allow me to not accomplish what he needed from me.

And that was scary, at first, because I felt like I could let him down, and then awesome because once we started the show, he was the nicest man to me. And speaking of signing, I was like, can I have your autograph, and I said I was getting them for the cast, so I said "Can you sign this one? And this one?" So, I have like 15 things that Paul Simon signed, just like The Capeman Playbill, and nobody else. That was probably the coolest thing I've ever done.

So, it's safe to say we had different experiences with Paul Simon... (laughs)

Yeah! (laughs)

But he gave me a story, at least. I wouldn't tell anyone if Paul Simon just signed my Playbill.

I wonder if he's realized that, that every time he does something like that, it becomes a story for everybody else?

Well, I used to stage door, but I don't anymore unless I know someone in the cast and I'm just waiting to say hi... but I'm sort of in the Patti LuPone camp, where it's like 'Didn't I just do a whole show for you?!' and now after show it becomes like a red carpet event where you have to be dressed up and look good, because people are going to take your photo and 40 people will tag them on Facebook that night.

I just did the Broadway Sings For Pride event, and we did a press line. And I hadn't done a press line sing Spring Awakening, and for Spring Awakening we all had training for dealing with press, and I hadn't done one in so long, I couldn't even keep my mouth smiling. It was twitching. I couldn't imagine being someone like Patti LuPone, where you have to be constantly on watch for someone to take a picture of you, and it has to look good because, if not, it will end up somewhere bad.

When I saw Women On The Verge Of a Nervous Breakdown, when she was leaving the stage after bowing, she was removing her costume. They said she is gone before anyone in the audience leaves the theater.

She's also been in the business for so long...

But I went to a book event when her memoir came out in San Francisco, and she did a Q&A and a signing. So, she would sign, but no personalization. No "To Jeff..." just "Patti LuPone." That's all you're getting. And I was the first one in line, so I tested her and said "Can you make it out To Jeff?" And she said she couldn't because she had so many people in line, and it would take all night. Then, I mentioned, I saw Women on the Verge, and she was like "Oh my God, you saw that? Wasn't that a great show?" and we talked for 2-3 minutes about this show, and I'm thinking "You really can't do "To Jeff" during this? We're already holding up the line...

But she is talking about something she wants to talk about...


elph's picture

All I can say is...

...what a great interview!

Bosemaster42's picture

Nice Interview Jeff,

Anthony seems like a very nice guy and cute too. If he ever makes it to Boston, I might just check out whatever show he's involved in. Typically, I'm not a huge fan of musicals or pop music, but I can appreciate a good voice regardless of genre.