LA CUEVA-TO-BROADWAY-- ROAD PAVED WITH PRACTICE
December 19, 2010
By Adrian Gomez Journal Staff Writer
Inside the rehearsal space, they take their places. Waiting for each cue, each performer knows that practice makes perfect.
"This is what we do on a daily basis," Tony Vincent says. "We've got to rehearse before shows to make sure every thing goes right."
Vincent, an Albuquerque native, is once again under the spotlight on the world's biggest stage — Broadway.
"I feel fortunate that I've been able to have a career here in New York," he says.
Vincent currently plays St. Jimmy in the rock opera "American Idiot."
"American Idiot" tells the story of three lifelong friends forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia.
Their quest for true meaning in a post-9/11 world leads them on an exhilarating journey.
The show opened at the St. James Theatre on April 20 after four weeks of previews. Prior to New York, the play had a successful run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, Calif.
It was announced in early December that Billie Jo Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day, will take over the role on Jan. 1.
Vincent says St. Jimmy is a dark character. With a half-shaved head, Vincent not only had to undergo a physical transformation but an emotional one.
"It's been a really challenging role vocally, and he's such an in-your-face character," Vincent says. "There is a little moment of tenderness, but it happens in a small window."
Vincent says St. Jimmy is the antagonist to the main character, Johnny.
"He's the devil on the left side," he laughs. "He's teasing him with drugs and women and he wants control of the character.
He's very thrilling, exciting and the sparkle of the show."
Vincent says he feels fortunate to be the actor to originate St. Jimmy.
"I like him a great deal, more than I should, actually," he says. "I have a past of playing dark-hinged roles. Whether on Broadway or just in theater, there's a connection. I was drawn to him because of my musical background."
Vincent grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from La Cueva High School in 1991, where he was in theater.
But his foray into music began way before that. He says when he was 4 years old he heard a Beatles record and was hooked.
"I knew I had to have music as a part of my life," he says. "I wanted to do music forever and I took any opportunity to get involved."
Attending La Cueva helped Vincent hone his skills. He says some of his classmates were Neil Patrick Harris and Freddie Prinze Jr.
"We had some good leadership and kept us going in a solid direction," he says. "The teachers helped me expand my scope of what acting meant."
After graduation, Vincent moved to Nashville for college. While there, he started writing songs and chased his music dreams.
"It was tough, but there were so many talented people out there," he says. "I even got a single on the radio. That was a big deal for me."
FALLING INTO BROADWAY
After leaving Nashville, Vincent found himself in New York and ready to work.
He landed a role in a traveling production of "Rent" in 1998 and later moved on to Broadway with the roles of Roger and Mark.
In 2000, he landed a role of Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and then in 2001 got the lead role of Galileo Figaro in Queen's "We Will Rock You."
"I never set out to be on Broadway," he says. "It just happened like that, in a very good way for me."
Vincent says with the various roles he's had on Broadway, he's always had some sort of hair drama.
He says during "Jesus Christ Superstar" he had to have platinum white hair and with St. Jimmy he had to dye his hair black and shave one side of his head.
"It's always some extreme," he says. "But I've pretty much gotten used to the double takes that I get while walking down the street. Some people shake their heads and others give me a thumbs up."
Vincent says the rigorous schedule of Broadway does take its toll on his body. He says the job is physically taxing and there's an amazing amount of vocal fatigue.
"After eight shows a week and hours of rehearsals, it starts to hurt," he says. "There are times on my days off that I don't talk to anyone, just to save my voice."
Now that his time as St. Jimmy is almost up, Vincent says he's loved being able to play such a great role.
"At the moment I'm going to be focusing on writing and working on my own material," he says about leaving his role on Dec.
30. "I want to do a rock-infused album and return to music."
Vincent says he never dreamed of a career like this and is humbled by the reactions.
"Each time the curtain rises it makes all the hard work worth it," he says. "There's a certain ambience that Broadway has, and it's special each time you get on stage."
If you go
WHAT: "American Idiot"
WHERE: The St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., New York City
INFORMATION: Visit www. americanidiotonbroadway.com for times and prices