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    An Interview with Cinderella's Prince Charming
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    In prepping to interview, one researches, develops questions, contemplates the flow of the interview.

    But when I called to speak with Andy Huntington Jones, most of my preparation flew right out the window. Because Jones is articulate, intelligent, and completely engaged in both his character and this production, there is no need for canned questions. Conversing with Jones is like chatting with an old friend.

    Jones plays Cinderella’s Prince Charming, Topher, in the production headed to the Kentucky Center next week, and I quickly ascertained that he’s just as charming in real life as he is on stage.

    The University of Michigan grad was able to talk with Louisville.com from his home in NYC, while the production was on a few-week hiatus before heading first to Minneapolis and then to Kentucky. After leaving Louisville, "Cinderella" will make a few more stops before heading to Boston, Jones’ hometown.

    Louisville.com: Did you always think that you wanted to be an actor? Was that your life goal?

    Andy Huntington Jones: "It was not always my life goal. Well…that’s kind of a misleading answer. I always, from as soon as I could conceive of having a profession, I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. So I kind of cycled through the runnings of wanting to be a clown, a puppeteer, a magician, and then for a little bit wanting to be an actor, and then after that in high school wanting to be a cinematographer. When I was 13 or 14 I came to NYC for a trip and I saw some Broadway shows and I thought, 'ok, that’s what I want to do.'  So, although I haven’t wanted to be an actor since I was 8, I basically did, I just didn’t know it."

    So I was damaged from the start.

    LC: And then once you’ve been bitten by the bug, that’s it, right?

    AHJ: [laughs] "Yeah…And I’ve been very lucky so far. "Cinderella" has been a wonderful windfall for me. It was my Broadway debut 2 1/2 years ago and then I went along to my next Broadway show that I did with Paige Faure, who’s playing Cinderella in Kentucky with us. You know, "Cinderella" is kind of the gift that keeps on giving, and I’m very very excited to be touring around the country with it. Actually, I met my fiancée ["Cinderella" ensemble member Audrey Cardwell] many many years ago and we’ve been together for many years, but the first time working together again since we’ve met has been on "Cinderella." And it’s just been amazing to be together, and to propose while working together…it’s just been a great blessing in my life."

    LC: And that’s pretty rare, isn’t it? Touring with a significant other? Because in your business you have to go where the job goes.

    AHJ: "We’ve spent the past 5 years of our relationship playing ‘living situation tag.’ And spending the last year not only working together but being able to spend so much of our time together has been –we’re lucky. Because we didn’t know how that was going to go—it has the potential for not going as well as it’s gone. So I’m lucky that we’ve had the opportunity and also that it’s been as positive as we’d hoped."

    LC: Most of us wake up in the same city, we go to work in the same city…Can you go through a typical day for us? What’s it like to be on a national tour?

    AHJ: "Something that’s great about being on tour versus doing the show on Broadway is, I was the understudy on Broadway and I’m playing the role now which is creatively wonderful. I get to find new things about this person and this character every night. But when you’re doing it in New York, it honestly feels more like a job. Because it’s a consistent schedule and you’re living in your home, and you have the same worksite every day for a year or so."

    And when you’re on the road, every week or two weeks or sometimes every month you’re changing to a new city and a new venue and that has honestly made it feel a lot less like a job than sometimes long running shows can feel.

    So,  we’ll get into a city on Monday, then on Tuesday, we’ll figure out what is our life going to look like in this city which basically consists of finding out where the coffee shop is, and where are places to get food that don’t involve paying for dining at the Ritz every night. Our company manager will usually set up a gym for us, so you basically spend your first day in a city figuring out how you are going to fool yourself into thinking you’re a normal human being who is not living out of a suitcase.

    Then once we open the show, there is kind of this give and take between resting and realizing that even though this is a new city, this is also a job and you have to take care of yourself. You have to balance that with this great opportunity of wanting to see the country.

    So we are changing cities all the time and we are doing a job but we are also treating ourselves as tourists as much as we can because that’s an opportunity that would be unfortunate to pass up on.

    By the time we get to Louisville I’ll have done the show 350 times on Broadway and then another 350 times on the road. So, to make that feel special and new, takes the discipline of taking care of your body and staying creatively stimulated so the audience doesn’t feel like, oh, here comes Performance Number 701."

    LC: How do you keep your performance fresh? For the audience, it’s their one and only but for you, it’s the 700th time you’ve done the show. What do you do to keep it new for them and new for you?

    AHJ: "Honestly I think what helps a lot is changing cities. Because although the stage is the same and the show is the same, the backstage is vastly different. So as long as your mind is interpreting and figuring out new challenges or is engaged in some way, that makes the spontaneity a lot easier.

    Something else that helps is Douglas Carter’s new script [book author Douglas Carter Beane]. He’s taken the story that we know, the story that’s been around…forever…and turned it’s on its head and twisted it.

    I think this new version of the script where these characters are humanized and where the tone of the piece is honest and beautiful but also very very witty and sometimes snarky and fun and funny--that has made it easy to show so many times for so many different audiences. Because these are characters who have problems that mean a lot to them in their lives, and I think that has made it helpful to have something to focus on."

    LC: Final thoughts?

    AHJ: "I have loved Rodgers and Hammerstein [composers of the music and lyrics for "Cinderella"] forever. They are the reason that I fell in love with musical theatre. They are the reason that musical theatre exists in the way that it does today at all.

    The music is untouchable. These are the masters of the golden age of musical theatre. And to have their music supporting this romantic story with Douglas’ witty book—this is for you.

    It’s really fun. It’s a really really fun night at the theatre."

     

    "Cinderella," starring Andy Huntington Jones as Topher and Paige Faure as Ella, runs at the Kentucky Center Sept. 15-20. Tickets are available online or by calling 502.584.7777.

    Image: Courtesy of Broadway Across America

    Michelle Rynbrandt's picture

    About Michelle Rynbrandt

    Before landing in the Possibility City, Michelle toured the country performing in various regional theatres. Having been there and done that, she can honestly say that Louisville's cultural opportunities are second to none.

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