Full name? Jason Allen Smith (Jason Richards professionally, pretentious, I know)
Where you were born/where you were raised? Garden City, Michigan, a suburb about 20 minutes outside of Detroit. Highlights include the first Kmart store ever built, the first Little Ceasars Pizza and that's about it!
Your role within the A NEW BRAIN family? Playing the role of Gordon Michael Schwinn.
How would you describe your character? Gordon is a very talented but also creatively blocked lyricist and composer who is stricken with a sudden brain condition that puts his life and career at risk. He's a challenging person to be around, as he is snarky, hard headed, stubborn and often short with those that love him the most. Hidden underneath this exterior is a huge heart and a burning desire to give the world the only gift he knows he knows: music. What I love about Gordon and his story is the idea that if we can make it through the most difficult things that happen to us in our lives, if we can somehow stick it through and be brave at all costs, there can be true happiness on the other side. That it's the challenges in our lives, and how we choose to perceive and deal with them, that define who we are.
In 5 words, how do you describe A NEW BRAIN? Such a good show…… Pancakes!
How would you describe Bill's writing? I can't tell you how impressed I am with the group of songs in this show. William Finn wrote this piece after recovering from a traumatic brain surgery and suddenly realizing afterward that all of the problems that seemed towering before, all the little things that annoyed him from day to day, the things that brought him fear and sadness were suddenly gone. All that was left was joy, gratitude and peace. All of the songs in this show flow from that place and I think they are all masterpieces in their own way. Not to mention, so catchy that they will be rattling around in your head for weeks.
Fill in the blanks: ____Hall_____ + ____Oates_____ = a song.
What was your must-see TV show as a kid? GUMMI BEEEAAAAARS! BOUNCING HERE AND THERE AND EVERYWHERE!
If you could be best friends with any cartoon character in the real world, who would it be? Probably Scrooge McDuck, because who couldn't use a sugar daddy every now and then? Although I'd make sure that cartoon physics were still in effect because diving into that vat of gold coins like it was a swimming pool is a surefire path to a broken neck.
Who would play you in the Lifetime movie of your life? I've been told by others that it would be Ben Savage, Jason Biggs (even Judge Reinhold? I don't get that one.) But my choice would of course be Star Wars era Harrison Ford.
Special hidden talent? I can sing, pretty much in full, almost any television or cartoon theme song from the 80's and 90's. Some obscure shit.
Something you're REALLY bad at? Oh SO much. Drawing ANYTHING has to be number one. Like, you will think your 5 year old nephew scribbled it out for you.
Favorite Chicago neighborhood? I live in Lincoln Square, so it has a special place in my heart. But I really love Wicker Park too. I almost moved there with my wife, but my friends assured me that they would never come to visit, so I think I might be in the minority on that one.
Current local show you have been recommending to friends? Sadly I haven't seen anything post-new year. Before the new year I was telling anyone who would listen about The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Griffin Theatre and The Normal Heart at Timeline. But those shows are closed now so you're SOL on that front. I've also heard that Sweet Smell of Success at Kokandy is phenomenal (but unfortunately that's closed as well).
Most played song on your iPod? Right now I think it might be "I Feel So Much Spring" from A New Brain. Hey, I have to LEARN these songs OK??? But I'm sure "Midnight City" by M83 is up there.
Pop culture guilty pleasure? Shark Tank, Bar Rescue, American Idol, Miley Cyrus
Three things you can't live without? My iPhone, Theatre, Family
"I'll never understand why... people eat black jellybeans .…people post pictures and descriptions of their food on Facebook .…Carson and Mrs. Hughes don't get together on Downton Abbey .…dogs have to turn around eight times before they poop .…anybody does The Threepenny Opera."
Come see Jason in William Finn and James Lapine's A NEW BRAIN February 21 - March 9, 2014 at Rivendell Theatre. Ticketing and performance information can be found at The Brown Paper Box Co.'s site.
Brown Paper Blog
Making theatre. Writing about it. Maybe some hilarious Youtube cat videos in between.