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Interview with Douglas Lyons, Cast Member of Broadway’s Hit Musical “The Book of Mormon”

Douglas Lyons of The Book of MormomAfter winning 9 Tony Awards this year, including “Best Musical”, The Book of Mormon has become the hottest ticket on Broadway. I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with one of the show’s newest cast members, Douglas Lyons. I met Douglas in 2008 when we were both involved in the Festival of New Artists at the Goodspeed Opera House; him as an actor in his senior year at the Hartt School of Music, me as a writer working on my new musical Life on the Mississippi. Not long after that, Douglas was cast in national tours of Dreamgirls and Rent.  Then just this year he landed a role that would give him the opportunity most actors dream about; he was cast in The Book of Mormon – his Broadway debut. I asked Douglas to share with us his experience so far, and to offer some advice to young actors out there who share his same passion. What was your reaction when you found out you were cast in your first Broadway show?
I was in disbelief for a good three hours. I paced back and forth in my room. My manager told me I couldn’t announce it until the producer signed off on my contract, but I  called a couple of my best friends and my parents anyway. It had been a day and a half waiting period and I knew their decision was between me and one other guy. So I was it sheer disbelief.
What part(s) do you play?
I am a Swing, which means I’m responsible for knowing 8 roles of the Ugandan ensemble. So when someone is sick or unable to perform, I get a call to go on stage in their track for that performance.
Could you briefly walk us through what it’s like from arriving at the stage door to being on stage?
I arrive a half hour prior to the starting time of the show. I usually do a quick stretch regiment, grab my microphone, get into costume and relax at my station until places is called. I may take a look at my swing bible to check the specifics of what track I am on for.
What’s your dressing room like?  Do you have any good luck charms?
I share my dressing room with three other actors. I have a lot of pictures of family and friends on my mirror to keep me smiling while I am not on stage.
Do you have any tricks for dealing with nerves before going on stage?
At this stage in my career nerves really don’t exist. I’ve learned to truly prepare myself and trust the moment. I believe if you have prepared yourself for everything you need there is no need to be nervous. There is a natural rush of excitement you get from performing but its best to use that to fuel your performance.
Since you play many different parts, there must be a lot of memorization involved.  Could you share any tips for memorizing lines?
My tip for memorization is to start as soon as you get the script.  I sometimes wait to see the blocking of the scene so I can associate the blocking with the lines. But start as soon as you can because you truly cannot begin any growth on a character if you don’t know what comes out of their mouth.
You’ve acted in everything from well-known musicals (Dreamgirls) to brand new musicals (Band Geeks, Book of Mormon).  What do you like about being in something brand new that most people haven’t seen before?
When you’re a part of something new you bring it to life. So much time of an actors career is spent trying to fit into molds for casting. New works allow you to craft something that has never been done. You sing original new music, work scenes and choreography that is being built and explored from your skill set. There is a true collaboration between the actors and creatives.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a professional actor?
When I was 17 years old the National Tours of “RENT” and “Cats” came through my hometown New Haven, CT. My parents got me tickets and I was just in awe. I knew I wanted to do that. I didn’t know what it was called but I did my research and gathered audition materials to try getting into a theatre program.  And there my journey began.
Douglas Lyons with Tony Award for Book of Mormon What’s been one of the most challenging things along the way?
AUDITIONING. Though I am on Broadway now, it’s taken probably over 150 auditions in the past 7 years to get here. There is a huge rejection percentage in this business and its very easy to give up because you begin thinking you’re not good enough. A lot of times I would get to final callbacks for shows and not book them. I had 6 total auditions for RENT over a 2 year span before booking the touring company. Persistence pays off.
What’s playing on your iPod right now?
 Beyonce’s album 4.
What advice would you give young people who share the same dream of being on Broadway?
1) Know what you do well. 2) Audition because its your business. 3) Train in one way or another. Not everyone is made for college but obtain as many new skills as you can, strengthening the weakest parts of your package.
Would you like to share any other thoughts to any young actors who may be reading this?
Its never too late to start pursuing your dream. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Singing in the shower is a start if it means something to you.
To find our more information about Douglas Lyons check out his website at www.douglaslyonsonline.com. — Beat by Beat Press believes in the power of musical theatre to inspire children. That’s why we create original children’s musicals for schools and youth theaters to perform. To learn more, visit us at www.bbbpress.com.

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