Courter Simmons is another rising actor to keep a watch on! He made is Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning musical "Jersey Boys" as well as starred on its first and second national tour, keeping on the road for the past 5 years. In addition to "Jersey Boys," Courter was on the National Tours of "Beauty and the Best" and "High School Musical." His Off-Broadway credits include "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," "The Pursuit of Persephone," and "Illyria." Regionally, Courter has lit up the stage in "Singin' in the Rain," "A Chorus Line," and "Barnum." Throughout his career, Courter has already had the opportunity to work such theatre heavy weights as Susan Stroman, Mel Brooks, Jeanine Tessori, and Jeff Calhoun.
With his strong vocals and excellent comedic timing, Courter Simmons is tearing up the stage as "Stewey" in Dan Derby's "FABULOUS!...The Queen of New Musical Comedies" through August 26 at the Richmond Shepard Theatre in NYC (309 East 26th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue). Click here for tickets and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!
For more on Courter be sure to visit http://www.courtersimmons.com!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was fortunate to grow up in a city that had a children's theatre program as part of the recreation department. When I was 8 years old I saw my first production there, and I begged my mother to let me audition for the next show. I was lucky enough to be cast in the first show I tried out for, and I've been performing ever since.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Well that list is about 12 miles long, but I'd have to say it would be a DREAM to work with Carol Burnett. She's a huge influence for me - a person who everyone sees as funny (and of course she's hilarious) but who can also REALLY act. And sing.
3. What attracted you to "FABULOUS! The Musical"? "Fabulous" is a great throwback to all the old musical comedies of yesteryear. These days, with all those angst-y shows like "American Idiot" and "Spring Awakening" and even "Once," (not that they're not great, I loved those shows) it's nice to be in a show that's actually FUN to watch, with catchy, hummable tunes, and big belly laughs.
4. What do you identify most with about your character "Stewey"? "Stewey" is a variation on the type of character I usually play - the hapless, gullible, lovable sidekick. While I'm not particularly hapless or gullible (unless you want to steal a french-fry from my plate and you point at something over my shoulder, I ALWAYS fall for that) I do like to think that I'm lovable. "Stewey" just wants what's best for his boss, though he can't help the one-liners that fall out of his mouth when she's leaves herself open to jokes.
5. In your portrayal of "Stewey," your comedic talent really comes through. You also definitely channel Paul Lynde perfectly. What do you like about performing comedic roles? What is it about Paul Lynde that you admire most? Why did you want to bring his style of performance into your character? Honestly, Paul Lynde has always seemed so SILLY to me - just the fact that this guy who played this ridiculous, over the top character for EVERY role he did, and got away with it in that day and age. But I guess that's the way things used to be. As they say in 'Jersey Boys,' "back then people thought Liberace was just, you know, 'theatrical.'" I certainly admire his tenacity and his ability to succeed the way he did. When the director handed me the sides for the character of 'Stewey' at the callback, he said the words "Paul Lynde" and the whole character just clicked for me. I brought the scenes home and was reading them with my husband, and he just fell on the floor laughing. Luckily the creative team for "Fabulous" did the same.
6. What has been the best part so far about performing in this show? You perform most, if not all, of your scenes with my friend and fellow "Call Me Adam" participant Amy Bizjak. What do you enjoy most about performing with her? The best part about performing in the show has been the audience reaction - it's the kind of show that completely feeds off the audience. When we have a good crowd out there, we have a blast, and they do too! I love performing with Amy because she is so fully committed to her character. She's not just playing for laughs, she's living her character's life out on the stage, and it's hilarious because there's so much truth to it. We've all met that woman.
7. In 2011, you made your Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning show "Jersey Boys." What do you remember most about your first night on Broadway? What did it mean to you to finally have this dream come true? I can't think about my Broadway debut without thinking about the love and support of all of my friends, family, and my husband Jason who helped get me there. I had a huge crowd in the audience that night, and they all got to see me make that dream come true. I think about the pure joy I felt during the curtain call, knowing that this thing that I'd worked for for most of my life had actually happened. (Now please, Universe, let it happen again!)
8. You have worked with some of the top names in theatre Susan Stroman, Mel Brooks, Jeanine Tessori, and Jeff Calhoun. What did you learn from working with these great artists? You are also a member of the Prospect Theatre Company. Why did you want to be part of their company? You learn something new every time you do a project, but the thing I keep coming back to - that each of these people has shown me in some way but that I somehow still need to be reminded of - is that I am the best "me" there is. If I can be happy in my skin, as me, then I can really make things happen. I'm never going to be your traditional leading man or big-screen hunk. But I can make you laugh. I can make you root for me. I can blow your ears out with my loud-ass voice. So I've got to be good with that. As far as Prospect goes, who doesn't want to be a part of a great company that puts on new shows on a regular basis, with emerging talent and less of a care for what's commercial and more of a focus on quality theatre? I've always had great experiences there, and I hope I can work with them in the future even more.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I'm certainly more resilient than I would think I was - I must be, or I wouldn't still be in this crazy business. I've also learned that the first way one does something isn't necessarily the best way. Good instincts are a huge part of a good performance, but sometimes it does help to revisit something and try it another way.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? It actually goes along with what I've been saying - not only do you have to be your best you, you have to LOOK your best you. You don't have to try to look like anyone else, but at all times, especially at auditions or meetings with agents or industry folks, looking like the best version of you there is not only helps you get your point across but helps you feel confident. Confidence is key.
11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My Grandmother, Esther Mae Courter. I wish I could talk to her again and tell her how much I love her, and how much her love and sense of humor still affect me.
12. Favorite way to spend your day off? Sleeping in, followed by a quick but good workout of some kind. Then a nice walk through a park somewhere and a Broadway show with my husband.
13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Ever since Magic Mike and Broadway Bares, I've been focusing more on my workout routine and diet. (I mean, come on, if that's not motivation, what is?) I run 3 times a week, and resistance train 3 days a week too. I've also cut out processed carbs and gluten, which is such a bitch living in the city with the greatest pizza in the world!
14. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying. It would be so much fun, AND I could speed past those damn slow walkers in the city!