Today, we are thrilled to post an exclusive interview with Justin Brill. Mr. Brill is currently portraying the role of Boq on the 1st National Tour of “Wicked”, after stepping up from the ensemble in late February of this year. Check out his enlightening interview below! You can find out more about him at his official website, www.justinbrill.com.
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you get it? What did you learn from the experience?
My first paid job was as Charlie in Willie Wonka at a dinner theatre in Annapolis. My first “professional” gig was with a summer stock company called Music Theatre of Wichita. That summer, I was in an ensemble that included Barrett Foa and Kelli O’Hara. I realized how large the talent pool is out there and how much hard work is going to be required to make a career out of it.
How did you come to audition for “Wicked”? How long was the audition process, and what did you have to do?
My first audition for Wicked was about 4 and a half years ago. I was working in Mamma Mia Las Vegas at the time, so I had to take a red-eye after the show to make in time for my afternoon audition the next day. I brought in my own song, then music & sides for Boq. Since then I’ve gone in every now and again. Last summer, I went in for a dance audition as well as a callback to sing and read. Finally got gig, very grateful!!
What was your first performance like in the ensemble like? How did you feel throughout the show?
First performance in the ensemble was in Seattle, happened two days before my scheduled first performance. We were down on people because of vacations and illness, so I did half of my track to fill in the gaps. I tend to get kind of nervous, but it was pretty spectacular to join this show.
What was your first performance as Boq like?
My first Boq performance was in Cleveland the day before Thanksgiving. My family was in town for a visit, so it was pretty special to have them in the audience. I don’t really remember the performance; I was pretty much just trying to get through it without any major mistakes.
How did your promotion to full-time Boq come about? Did you have to audition again?
I have auditioned for the role a number of times, so most of the creative team had seen me read the sides at one time or another. I’ve also worked with Steven Oremus, the original musical supervisor for the show, so he knows my work pretty well. The offer came in during the winter and I happily accepted.
What is your favorite part of the show to perform in the ensemble and as Boq?
In my ensemble track, my favorite part of the show was the Emerald City sequence, great fun. As Boq, I’d probably say it’s the Witch Hunters number, riling up the crown from the podium.
What is it like to be transformed into the tin man? How much time and makeup does that take?
It doesn’t take that long, maybe 5 minutes or less. Our makeup supervisor is very efficient with the application.
Have you had to change any daily habits to protect your voice and body while in the show?
I try to do a short physical warm up before the show to activate my body and loosen everything up. Also a vocal warm up before the show starts as well as before I re-enter in Act 2. I’ve got a decent break in the middle of the show, so I usually have to keep the voice warm during the down time.
Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage bloopers or mishaps that you’d like to share?
Well, remember that unexpected first night in the ensemble track in Seattle? I pushed Glinda’s cart a bit too far onstage and knocked her off during the entrance to Shiz. Oops. Chandra is very nimble and was able to play it off like a pro, thank goodness!
Could you ever see yourself playing any of the other male characters in “Wicked”
Maybe the Wizard someday, that’s probably the only other role I could play.
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to one day perform?
I’d love to play Cosmo in Singin’ In the Rain.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
If there’s anything else you think you’d be happy doing, do it. It’s a tough road to make a career out of it. If you really love it, you have to commit yourself to do something on a daily basis to keep improving. There’s such a large pool of talent out there now, you really have to keep at it every day to distinguish yourself from the crowd.