Interview With An American In Paris Broadway Stars Bradley Schlagheck And Shannon Rugani

London Theatre Direct blogger Em Jenkins is here with a combined interview with Bradley Schlagheck and Shannon Rugani, from the Broadway cast of An American In Paris.

Musical spectacular, An American In Paris opens at the Dominion Theatre in London's West End in March, 2017.

Em: What’s your favourite thing about performing on Broadway?
Shannon: I love performing eight times a week! Rehearsing is never as much fun as performing. I am a born performer.
Bradley: My favorite thing about performing on Broadway is having the chance to be a part of something as special as AAIP. Even though swinging a show as hard as this can be a test of will, I have such a great time on stage.

Em: What first inspired you to start dancing?
Shannon: Music! If I hear music I need to move or sing along to it. Music is my inspiration to dance and can't imagine dancing without it.
Bradley: I started in gymnastics at a young age and I think when I seemed to be getting bored, my mom signed me up for dance. I remember watching Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain and loving the dancing in the movie.

Em: If you could play any role in any musical (regardless of age, sexuality, race, gender, etc.) who would it be and why?
Shannon: I would love to play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.
Bradley:  I saw a lot of musicals as a kid and have just gotten back into seeing them again after dancing for 10 years with Boston Ballet. I think I would love to dance in something like Fosse or Movin' Out where the story is centered around movement. Musicals like Footloose were always my favorite because I wanted to be up there doing everything.

Em: Who is your biggest inspiration?
: At the moment it's Lady Gaga.
Bradley: I have a lot of inspiration in my life I think. I wouldn't say I have one person who has shaped the way I think about my career or craft. My closest friends I've had at Boston Ballet now dance all over the world and some are still there. Growing up and working with them was always an inspiration to keep growing.

Em: Are there any current Broadway or West End shows that you’re dying to see?
: I have not seen Hamilton yet! I'm dying to see it.
Bradley: Having moved to NYC this past November, I've been trying to get around to see shows in my off time. The Color Purple is absolutely mind blowing and I've really been dying to see Shuffle Along and The Crucible

Em: If you ever got stuck on a desert island with a book, a musical soundtrack and an actor, what/who would they be and why?
: I'll have to think about that one!
Bradley: I think it would have to be To Kill A Mockingbird, the original Broadway cast album of Footloose, and Amy Poehler. That's my favorite book that will always put me in a nice reading mood, that album is always fun to belt and dance around to, and I think Amy and I would be really good friends and have a lot of stupid fun on an island with nothing to do.

Em: What’s your favourite quote from a play or musical?
: I think one of my favorite quotes is actually from AAIP. At the end of the show just before the premiere of the American in Paris ballet that has been created for Lise, Adam who is the composer says "Life is already so dark, if you've got the talent to make it brighter, give people joy or hope, why would you withhold that?" It's truly a testament to what the whole show is about. The rebuilding of Paris and the fact that love and art can breathe life back into so many things.

Em: What's the weirdest/most obscure role you've ever played? 
: A flying Willi. I literally flew fifty feet above the stage in Giselle as a willi. I thought that title was pretty funny! 
Bradley:  I think I've played some random parts over my 10 years at Boston Ballet. I've played a giant dancing bear in The Nutcracker, which people actually love the crap out of. Once when I was a trainee I was the "Pumpman" in The Taming of the Shrew and I had to stand onstage for an entire scene and do absolutely nothing. Having just joined a Broadway show, I haven't really had any weird ones yet.

Em: Have you got anything to say to people who use their phones in theatres?
: Turn it off!! It is very disrespectful for the artists onstage as well as distracting to the audience. So turn it off! 
Bradley: TURN IT OFF! We are putting our blood, sweat, and tears out there on stage for you and you should respect that live theatre is something special. You might even feel or learn something if you put your phone away for two hours.

Em: If you could create a show for yourself to star in, what would it be? (Could be an adaptation of a book/fairytale or an original story)
: I would like to write, produce and orchestrate my own musical someday. 
Bradley: I think the coolest musical of all time would be the story of my life starring ME! Haha. Maybe when I turn 60 I'll start on that but it would be pretty fun to relive everything in musical form.

Em: If you had to describe ‘An American in Paris’ in 3 words, what would they be?
: S'Wonderful. S’marvelous. Classic.
Bradley: Gorgeous, uplifting, and s'wonderful!

Em: What do you do to keep yourself fit and healthy while doing such a demanding show?
: Pilates, massages, and lots of sleep!
Bradley: Taking ballet class is obviously something that I'm very used to for staying in shape. The Broadway schedule can be pretty rough so when time and energy allows, I try to keep up with that. If I'm not scheduled on for a while in the show, I'll do cardio and some workout apps on my phone while I'm sitting at the theatre. Jumping back onstage in this show is too hard if you've just been laying around when you're off. It's 2.5 hours of non-stop dancing, changing costumes, STAIRS, and moving sets. 

Em: What advice would you give to people like me who want to be performers when they’re older?
: Work smart - not just hard!
Bradley: It may sound ridiculous but my best advice for someone wanting to be a performer is to always try to be good at everything! Honestly, I've gotten so many places because of my versatility. Never stop learning and testing yourself, even with things you are uncomfortable with.

Em: What are your aims for 2016 and the more distant future?
: To begin my music career as a singer songwriter...
Bradley: Having just jumped into this whole new Broadway world, I really want to start exploring what else I can lend my talents to. Whether that means auditioning for more shows, or finding dance gigs around town that allow me to do what I do. I would love to keep doing Broadway and perhaps in the future be a dance captain or associate for a show. I think I have a pretty good swing brain and attention to detail so it would be great to be in charge of a show's artistic product.

Em: Have you got anything else you'd like to say to my readers? 
: Go see An American In Paris! It is visually stunning and is simply a beautiful show unlike anything you've ever seen on Broadway.
Bradley: Dreams really do come true! Just keep working. I think by staying true to yourself and making decisions that make you happy, your path will come along, even if it's not as easy or similar to someone else's.


An American In Paris is now booking from 4 March, 2017 to 30 September 2017 at London's Dominion Theatre.

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