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Back on Broadway!

October 29, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
Aaron Galligan-Stierle, whose theater career I enjoy following, is back on Broadway!

The 1998 Wheeling High School graduate was cast as Henry Ford in a spring production of "Ragtime" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

His Broadway debut was as Papa Who in “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” And now, "Ragtime" has begun previews Oct. 23 at the Neil Simon Theater, and will open on Nov. 15.

Here is my latest Q&A with the actor.

PRS: What is the difference — emotionally, physically, production-wise —  in those two "openings" (previews and opening night)?

AG-S: Both are very exciting, emotional times. The first Preview is the first time we get the opportunity to share our story with an audience. It is sort of scary and thrilling as we get to try out all the things we found in the rehearsal room and see if they work. Over the next three weeks of previews, we have a chance to fine tune all of the the things that our audiences teach us ... we see how they respond and adapt accordingly. Technical elements, such as lighting and costumes, also continue to be tweaked to achieve maximum effect. At the end of this "preview" time, we create a true finished product and share that on "Opening Night." It involves an immense amount of hard work, professionalism and concentration, but it is absolutely worth it as we try to find the absolute best way to tell our story and then share that.

PRS: How does it feel to be back on Broadway?

AG-S: It is an absolute thrill and dream to be working back on Broadway, especially with this cast of extraordinary performers who are telling this amazing story that we all believe in so strongly. This is a show that many consider one of the finest musicals of our time and I could not agree more. And they have truly pulled out all the stops for this production ... lighting, orchestra, set, costumes and the incredible cast! 

PRS: How does the production differ?

AG-S: We have been very blessed to have the creators of the show (book writer Terrence McNally, Composer Stephen Flaherty and Lyricist Lynn Ahrens) with us from the very beginning. They have worked intensely with our incredible director Marcia Milgrom Dodge and our Music Director Jim Moore to create a new version of "Ragtime" specifically for this production. There are a number of tweaks, cuts and additions that have all been used to make this production the best version of the show it can be.

PRS: How do the experiences differ ... Broadway vs. D.C.?

AG-S: Both have been a dream come true. The production at the Kennedy Center was wonderful because it was the first time I had ever performed in the musical "Ragtime." And the Broadway version is fantastic because it has been taken to a whole new level. Additionally, my parents live very near to the Kennedy Center so I got to spend a ton of time with them while in D.C. And now, after being on the road a ton the last few years, the Broadway production allows me to be home with my wife and to sleep in my own bed. So as you can see, they both have been incredible for different reasons.

PRS: Are your roles the same as in D.C.? I know the Henry Ford role is the same, but how about the ensemble parts?

AG-S: As the production has grown and shifted, the roles I play have also shifted a bit, which is fantastic. It has given me the opportunity to continue exploring and being creative. But that doesn't mean I do any less ... in fact, I now play 13 characters over the course of the show (that is 19 costume changes!!!). I am also understudy for the role of "Houdini" and the Fight Captain for the show. It all keeps me very busy ... but I wouldn't want it any other way.

PRS: How long is the production expected to run?

AG-S: The production is an open ended run so we all hope it runs forever! Only time will tell. ...

PRS: What else have you been doing, prior to B'way rehearsals for "Ragtime."

AG-S: I was very lucky to get to spend a majority of the summer with my incredible wife Shannon. We spent about a month on vacation (I even went scuba diving with dolphins). I took some classes, went to auditions, taught a few workshops, spent a few weeks in Los Angeles and all around enjoyed myself.

Well, once again ... congratulations Aaron, and break a leg!


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