Interview: Clay Singer Discusses Influences, Career, and The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit
The Paramount Theatre
March 8 – 13, 2022
Get tickets and more information here.

Clay Singer is part of the upcoming musical, The Band’s Visit. His experience has given him the opportunity to perform in concert as well as touring the country on stage. As he comes into Seattle for the hit musical at the Paramount Theatre, Mr. Singer took the time to speak with us.

Clay Singer (Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade)

Clay Singer (Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade)

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?
Clay Singer: I would say when I was really young; I loved the specific performance by Ben Vereen in Pippin. It showed me the power of a performer, and what you could do on stage. RENT was another show that showed me what I could do in theatre. I know that’s kind of cliché, but it’s true. To go back even further, I also love John Raitt’s voice. His voice and instrument became the gold standard of what I wanted to sound like. It’s funny [now] talking about my earlier influences. Several have changed and I can thank them for being there.

Andrews-Katz: Your biography says you enjoy painting. What kind of style would you say you paint, and which of the Masters influence your work?
Singer: I do a lot of acrylic abstract work. That’s just something I do for myself. It started with drawing and sketching and became a nice outlet for day-to-day anxiety. It was a way to sit down and let go of wherever my headspace was at the moment. I do love abstract painting and sketching.

Andrews-Katz: RENT was the show that made you say, “I’m going to be an actor”?
Singer: I grew up doing theatre because my mother told me I should. I wanted to be a professional football player, and was working towards that goal. When I did RENT, I realized that theatre could have a lot more grunge to it than Anything Goes or Guys and Dolls. I fell in love with it.

Andrews-Katz: You’ve performed musicals “in concert” and on stage. Can you describe the pros and cons of each?
Singer: I love performing on stage a lot more than doing concerts. My favorite part of performing is getting lost in the magic of the world that is created. A concert is a beautiful showcase for new writers/composers/lyricists, I would rather watch than perform a ‘concert’ setting. It becomes a little more about the people, than the story, when it comes to concert. I like the feeling of being on stage more so than the notoriety of getting noticed. The pros are getting to work with people and getting to know more performers.

Andrews-Katz: Describe what it is like for an actor to tour the country, and arrive in a new city. You have arrived in Seattle. What do you do next?
Singer: You get your bags and you are on your way to the hotel. You try to establish a home base as soon as possible. When I’ able to arrive in a new city and take the time to invest in the space that I’m going to be there, it helps my mental health and I feel grounded as we go through the week. Tours are great, but there’s a feeling of a transient living environment can bring about anxiety. It’s not easy to jump around, create a home base, and then leave that base within a short time. You get to see the country and enjoy many places, but you miss the feeing of home. I thank my lucky stars for being on the road after a year a half or two years of being cut off from the world from Corona. It’s wonderful that I get to be dropped into a city for a week, and get to try the food and all the experiences that a city gets to offer.

Andrews-Katz: In your own words, describe what The Band’s Visit is about.
Singer: It’s not your quintessential musical. It’s not Oklahoma! or Guys and Dolls. It’s not a big stage kind of show. It’s about human connections when there isn’t so much to connect with, aside form music and broken conversations. It’s a beautiful story about people finding each other and learning about themselves. We have some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever seen. I get to enjoy them every night on stage. I think the audience will find the Arabic music played on stage really incredible.

Andrews-Katz: Were you familiar with the 2007 movie [The Band’s Visit] before you became part of the musical’s cast?
Singer: Yes, but not before the show went to Broadway. [Cast member] Sasson Gabay was in the movie. He’s been doing the [stage] show from the beginning, and every time he steps on stage he is fresh, and present. Its’ a pleasure to work with him.

Andrews-Katz: How do you respond when people say, “Is it a political musical”?
Singer: It was written with the intention to remove politics, and that’s not always easy to do – especially at this time in the world. The intentions (of the writers) were to accept the peace in the Middle East, and to keep it just about human connection. I think the show does a pretty good job with it. It’s a tricky thing, you can’t ignore the tension between Israel and the Arabic community, but in this show there is very little political tension.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of limitations such as gender, race etc., what role would it be, and why that one?
Singer: I’ve always wanted to do Sunday in the Park with George.   I think George would be a wonderful role to play. In Company there is a character singing “Another Hundred People” and that is the part, that every time I hear it – it almost moves me to tears. It’s one of those songs that moves you, and I’m not sure why. Those are the songs that I want to explore and live longer. Right now that is the role and part I want to play. Another one that I’ve always dreamed to do is “A Moment in the Woods”. I love that song so much.

Clay Singer plays “Itzik” in the current touring company of The Band’s Visit.

The Band’s Visit
The Paramount Theatre
March 8 – 13, 2022
Get tickets and more information here

 

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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