Friday, June 1, 2012
Groovy Reader of the Month: Raymond J. Lee
As a way to thank my readers for their support, I feature a new groovy guy or gal each month - and the winner of this prestigious title for May is actor Raymond J. Lee of New York City who has been appearing as "John" in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes since it opened last year. And he recently directed and edited a video of the show's cast performing the One Direction song, "What Makes You Beautiful", which has received over 223,000 hits on YouTube. His other credits include four years in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia!, the 2008 Encores! production of Applause, the 2005 Shakespeare in the Park production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, two solo cabaret shows at New York's Metropolitan Room, and the films, Ghost Town (2008), and The Mikado Project (2010). Ray was also a Top 10 finalist on the NBC reality series, Fame, during the summer of 2003, and after graduating from Northwestern University in 2004, he worked as a Production Assistant for MTV for almost two years. However, I first became acquainted with Ray in 2010 when he and Ben Gettinger created their hilarious mockumentary web series, Thank You...Next, which follows a creative team through the casting process of a Broadway-bound musical.
I am delighted to have the fabulous Mr. Lee here on the Dish to answer a few questions about his career and, of course, pop culture.
What inspired you to create your backstage Anything Goes music video? And how did you decide on "What Makes You Beautiful" as your song?
The cast and I have an absolute blast together backstage. Hayley Podschun who played “Virtue” introduced me to the song “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, and I instantly thought we should do a backstage music video to it. As a cast, we have done tons of little backstage videos and I thought this song would serve as the perfect vehicle for us to live out our inner music video fantasies. It’s been really humbling to see all the feedback from the video - and I know our sailor boys are enjoying the attention they’ve been getting!
What is the most memorable and/or funniest moment you have had while performing in Anything Goes?
I think the most memorable part of performing in Anything Goes is that Act 1 finale tap number. It’s just a joy to perform a standard Broadway tap number to the sea of smiling faces and I couldn’t be any prouder to be a part of this show. You can just feel the energy on stage and Stephanie J. Block, our Reno Sweeney, just commands that number.
I think the funniest moment I’ve had was during the Act 2 jail scene back during our first previews. We are supposed to be locked in a jail cell for that scene but during one performance, Joel Grey said his usual line (to let us out) and the cell door just magically opened. Joel took a quick turn to the audience, slowly grabbed the door and closed it again. The audience ate it up!
Is there any role in any musical or play that you would love to do someday?
I have a whole list of dream roles I would love to play. At the top are Leo Bloom from The Producers, Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, and Mark from RENT. My next dream is to play a principal role on Broadway in my next show and finally get the chance to sing on stage.
If I could go back in time and see any Broadway show, I would see:
The original cast of RENT. The first time I heard RENT in high school, I was just awed that this particular sound was on Broadway. People like me could be on Broadway and you didn’t just have to have that Rodgers & Hammerstein kind of sound. It really opened my eyes, and although I saw the national tour - which was fantastic - I would love to have been there on Opening Night for RENT.
I was a television/film major at Northwestern University so movies are a huge part of my life. I think the top five movies that I think everyone should watch are Titanic, Schindler’s List, Every Little Step, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. I highly recommend Every Little Step because it shows what we go through as actors in New York and the rigorous casting process of a Broadway show. And it is a personal dream of mine to bring To Wong Foo to a Broadway stage!
My five favorite TV shows of all time are:
Friends, Dexter (Seasons 1-4), Revenge, Saved by the Bell and Top Chef.
If I were asked to choose the Sexiest Man Alive (besides my boyfriend), it would be:
This is such a hard question! I am torn between Michael Fassbender, who is just so incredibly sexy and was absolutely amazing in Shame and as Magneto in X-Men: First Class, and Matthew Goode, who is just dreamy, a fantastic actor, and his accent is just super SUPER sexy.
If I could have anyone in the world - living or dead - be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Hugh Jackman (because he’s AWESOME), Jesus Christ (because I just have so many questions), and my maternal grandfather (because he was apparently the musician of the family and I never got to know him).
What's next for Raymond J. Lee? Any more episodes of Thank You...Next?
Right now I am sailing on the S.S. American until September 9th and then we will see what the next project is. The life of an actor is constantly filled with uncertainty but you just have to trust the Universe and know that your next right job will happen.
I’m also excited to announce that Thank You...Next is being developed into a feature film! My writing partner, Ben Gettinger, and I worked for almost eight months on the script, and we are currently working with Jonathan Shoemaker of Centre Street Film and casting director Jen Rudin and we hope to start production this fall. Hopefully you’ll see Thank You...Next in a movie theater near you very soon.
Thank you, Ray, for being one of my grooviest readers! To learn more about Mr. Lee, go to www.raymondjlee.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.