Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Justin Anger, who is performing as Chet Pazinski in Over the Tavern. Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular show interested you?
JA: Working with (Barb)H-T (director), initially, is what brought the show to my attention. But the show really provides some interesting challenges, character wise, that appealed to me as an actor.
LA: For those who unfamiliar with Over the Tavern can you tell us about the show?
JA: The show is about a Catholic family in the 50’s, living in a cramped apartment above a tavern owned by the father. The story revolves around the families’ growing pains, and especially the four children.
LA: Talk about the character that you play in Over the Tavern. How have you developed this character?
JA: I play Chet, father and tavern owner. It’s been interesting and a challenge to bring this character to life because the character is quite a bit older than me and has more life experience. Kids, marriage, business ownership. The only experience I could bring to Chet is from an outsider’s perspective, as a child growing up and witnessing my father or my grandfather or the fathers of my friends. It’s sort of like, “reverse engineering” a character.
LA: Why should people come and see Over the Tavern?
JA: First of all, every show at Lyric Arts is absolutely magic. Everyone from staff to talent has such a passion for theatre that it doesn’t matter what’s showing, you’re getting the very best. But Over the Tavern specifically is such a heartwarming story that everyone can identify. From growing up and experiencing certain emotions for the first time, to questioning your creator, to parenthood and just being a good son. All these things are brought to light on stage in a light-hearted and beautiful way.
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
JA: Watching Laura (Ellen) in rehearsal is, for lack of a better term, motivating. This woman hasn’t been on stage in years and is working so hard and with such focus that I’ve taken it upon myself to throw her a few curveballs here and there just to keep her loose. She’s a terrific actress but she’ll be the absolute last to tell you. The children are very interesting to watch on stage, and their interactions and the choices they’ve made for their characters are so funny and honest. As a child actor, you don’t have the luxury of experience. So what really sets younger actors apart is focus. Are you able to focus on what’s needed and process what’s expected of you and process why you and your character are doing these things. All four kids in this production are wonderful, but I would have to say that Alec (Rudy) is probably the most focused kid I’ve seen.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
JA: Seeing my character’s story arch starting to take it’s final shape, which I don’t want to speak too much on until people have seen the show.
LA: Do you have any rituals or things you do to prepare to go on stage when you are performing?
JA: I was Issachar in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2011). Two things I used to do before every show. First, I would go into the house and do 100 push-ups in the boxes or on the stairs to calm me down a bit. The other thing was I would show up about 2 hours early, get into costume, put on my make-up, and then I would sit outside the hallway leading to the green room and catch up with everyone as they walked by and make sarcastic comments to people.
LA: Why do you choose to spend time at Lyric Arts? Why not?
JA: This place is absolutely magic. Everyone you interact with at Lyric has such a passion for the business and working at this theatre has been such a joy. I really can’t say enough.
LA: What is your favorite way to spend your free time? As your character in the 1950’s, how would you spend your free time?
JA: Personally, I love to write. I’m quite often in my own head working out story arcs or plot lines for ideas that come to me. Especially the stupid and ridiculous ideas, those are the best to work. Chet, however, I don’t see as a very creative guy. Chet spends his free time reminiscing about days past, and drinking. Plenty of drinking. I don’t see Chet getting out much either. Not really a social guy.
LA: What is your dream character to play on stage?
JA: Ooh, good question. Every actor/actress has a “list”. Personally, I want another crack at playing Pharaoh or Joseph in Joseph. Gaston in Beauty and the Beast would be fun. But quite honestly my dream roles are such that I would have to step out of my comfort zone and play a part that requires me to push the boundaries of my vocal skill set. That would be Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and either Jean Valjean or Javert in Les Mis. You may notice all my dream roles are musicals…
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
JA: My name is Justin, I live in Coon Rapids with my wonderful girlfriend and number one fan, along with our beautiful dogs. Before returning to the stage I was an independent Pro Wrestler for 5 years, and left the business because I love theatre so much more, and there is still a small group of people who refer to me as “Vinny”.