Meet Justin Anger, who is performing as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!. Read on to learn about the rehearsal process, how he is developing his character, and why you should take a chance on this show! LA: Where are you originally from?
JA: Originally I'm from East Bethel, MN.
LA: Why did this particular musical interest you?
JA: I had made the decision to audition for Lyric Art's big musical while I was performing in Over the Tavern last April. I was having a blast doing that show, but I'm really more of a musical guy, so I loved being in the theater but hadn't done a musical in over a year. We were barely in rehearsals when Lyric had their next season announcement gala, and I honestly had never heard of Hello, Dolly! before. So, after wards I was talking with some people in the theater and someone informed me that Michael Crawford, the original Phantom of the Opera, had played Cornelius Hackl in the film version and that the role would be a lot of fun to play. So that was when I first took an interest, but it wasn't until I found a concert performance of “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Royal Albert Hall that I really fell in love with the idea of playing Cornelius and being a part of Hello, Dolly!.
LA: For those unfamiliar with Hello, Dolly! can you tell us about the show?
JA: The story is about, of course, Dolly Levi, widow and matchmaker who is seeking a wife for the Yonker's half a millionaire Horace Vandergelder. However, through her actions we learn that she intends to marry Horace herself. At the same time, she's also enlisted by Ambrose Kemper, an artist, to assist him in marrying Vandergelder's niece, Ermengarde. Meanwhile, Vandergelder's two employees, Cornelius and Barnaby, sneak off to New York and unwittingly involve themselves in Dolly's plot.
LA: Talk about the character(s) that you play in Hello, Dolly! How have you developed this character?
JA: Well, I play Cornelius Hackl, chief clerk for Horace Vandergelder at Vandergelder's Hay and Feed. Cornelius, unfortunately, spends every waking hour at work and thirsts for adventure. The interesting thing about developing Cornelius is that you really don't get much of an introduction to him on stage before he makes a big decision that changes his character. So, basically everything about Cornelius before the second scene in the first act, including the character's history, is WIDE open to interpretation.
LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
JA: Kerry Fager (Barnaby Tucker) and I have worked together previously, but not as close as we are in this show. We really have to work off each other in this show, and I never got to really talk character development with him before, and he's really got some great ideas. The two of us also spend a lot of time with our female counterparts Alyssa Wyatt and Megan Rodriguez (Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay) and so the four of us really spend a lot of time bringing our characters to life and interacting on stage and it has really lead to great chemistry between the four of us.
LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Hello, Dolly!?
JA: This production, specifically, is going to have some AMAZING singing. Beth King (Dolly) and Alyssa (Irene Molloy) are both fantastic singers, like mind blowingly good. Not a word? That's ok, I'm still going to use it. When they get together for Motherhood March, it'll be one of the most impressive things you'll see on any stage all year. Of course, that's not to say that Kerry (Barnaby Tucker)and I don't have something special up our sleeves...
LA: What is your favorite number of the show?
JA: It Only Takes a Moment might be the sweetest moment on stage, but Put on Your Sunday Clothes has so much energy.
LA: What is your favorite musical (in theater) to watch?
JA: Les Mis, hands down.
LA: What is your all-time favorite karaoke song?
JA: (Laughs) Um, either “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness or “White Wedding” by Billy Idol.
LA: What was the first musical you ever saw on stage?
JA: Grease, when I was in fifth grade.
LA: What is your favorite thing about Lyric Arts?
JA: Everybody's passion to put on the best theater. When you talk to the artistic staff or the vets who have done a lot of shows here you realize that this is an awesome place to develop your craft, or to work with some amazing talent, and as an artist, that's what you're looking for. And when we're in an environment like that, it translates to something wonderful on stage.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
JA: My name is Justin Anger, and this is my third show at Lyric Arts. I graduated from Brown College and have a degree in Video Production and Graphic Design. After college I spent six years as an independent professional wrestler before realizing that I'm meant to be on stage. I'm engaged to a wonderful woman and we love Lyric Arts so much we're having our wedding here!