Nicholas Kohn starred as Brian in the Off-Broadway musical Avenue Q playing at New World Stages / Stage 3.
July 23 - I'm a Leo and proud of it!
Place of birth?
Columbia, South Carolina
You now live in?
Did you go to training school, if so which one?
I went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and have a Bachelor of Music. I currently study with Craig Carnelia and Harry O'Reilly.
As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, TV or film?
I love tv and film, but my real passion is on the stage. There is nothing that compares to live theatre. The audience reactions, the music, the lights, the interaction onstage with fellow actors, all of it creates a magic that you simply can't recreate anywhere else.
Your first stage performance was?
I performed in my church choir as a child, and many choirs in school. But my first stage play was a production of Luann, a play based on the comic book. I think I played a high school jock. I maybe had 2 lines. I had no idea what I was doing but it was fun.
Career highlight to date?
Being a part of 3 incarnations of Avenue Q including the closing Broadway cast. But the biggest high I ever had was performing our opening number on Broadway on Broadway in front of 50,000 people in Times Square. I remember when I first moved to the city, that was the first event I saw and thought, "one day, I'm going to be a part of this." A dream come true!
What roles would you most like to play?
The title role in Sweeney Todd has always been my dream role, the Baker in Into the Woods, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Franz Liebkind in The Producers and one that will never happen is the Plant Voice in Little Shop of Horrors. Oh well, a white man can dream.
What's the best advice you have ever received?
I was about to make my Broadway debut in Avenue Q on March 28, 2008. A friend of mine, Jack Lane who is the Executive Producer of Stages St. Louis told me to really take some time alone and really take in the joy and excitement. He said it's always crazy that day and sure enough it was. But I took about a half hour before the show and went and sat on the Golden Stage and just took it all in. All of the years I had waited and worked so hard had come to that one special night that would never happen again; My Broadway debut. It was so emotional and powerful and one of the greatest nights of my life.
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
When I was doing The Full Monty at Stages St. Louis, I was surprisingly comfortable with being naked onstage. But before the final reveal at the end, the six guys were wearing bright red leather g-strings while dancing for the audience. For some reason I had the hardest time wearing it. The people still cheered but it mortified me. I guess I have a fear of red leather thongs!
What is the most annoying part about your job?
I don't think I could use the word annoying with my job. I wouldn't trade performing for any other job in the world. Well, maybe Video Game Tester if that even exists.
Briefly tell us how you become involved with Avenue Q?
My friend Michael Croiter was the drummer for the show since it began it's Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. He kept telling me that there was a role I would be perfect for and that I should definitely go in for it. I had just gotten my Equity card that summer but I missed all of the Equity EPA's and Chorus Calls, so I went to a non-Equity open call. I did very well at that audition and was called back subsequently 7 or 8 times. I knew they liked me but Jordan Gelbar was playing the role and wasn't planning to leave. So right after Q won the Tony, they announced the show was going to Las vegas to play 10 shows a week at the Wynn Hotel with two alternating casts. I got a call a few weeks later saying I was going to be one of the Brian's and that began my time into the Q Family. I was over the moon!
Briefly tell us about the character you play in Avenue Q?
I play Brian, the out-of-work aspiring comedian who was just laid off from his day job. He is married to Christmas Eve, who is a therapist with no clients. Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman represent the human characters in the show. Everyone else is a puppet. Brian and Chistmas Eve are a little bit older than everyone else, so they seem to have a little more life experience, but they are also trying to figure out life, career and relationships. I've always tried to play him as upbeat, excited to have fun and be a part of all things happening around him. There are definitely times when he is clueless but he has a good heart and has wisdom to share as well.
If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
I actually started out studying Criminal Justice in school and wanted to be a police officer or work for the FBI. Then I realized performing was what I was meant to do.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
Film actors, I'm a huge fan of Gene Hackman, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. I think everything that each of them does is a Master Class in acting. As far as stage, Brian D'Arcy James and Audra McDonald can do no wrong in my book, as well as Barbara Cook, Christine Ebersole, and Danny Burstein. Last but not least Madeline Kahn. What a loss to the acting world that was when she passed away.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
I was a huge fan of Chris Farley and his death affected me greatly. He was actually one of the reasons I chose to go into this business. He was a "big guy" who was successful. He inspired me with his ability and he was very underrated in my opinion. I think I would have sat with him and tried to help him get sober and healthy.
Favorite after-show haunts?
My favorite all time place to go post show no longer exists. McHale's on 46th and 8th. It was a landmark historic restaurant and bar that served cheeseburgers the size of your head for $9.00 and cheap drinks. It was the best place ever and then the new landlord shut them down and built this giant, monstrosity of a residential building with pictures of silver naked people holding giant balls. I miss McHale's so much. My friends and I spent many a night there as did celebrities and other theatre folk.
What was the last book you read, and name some of your favorite authors?
The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts by By Jr. Farley, Tanner Colby. It's a biography of his life with close friends and family sharing their stories about him along the way. It's all together sad, funny, interesting, magical, tragic and wonderful. I was laughing so hard one minute and tearing up the next
What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favorite movies?
I just saw Crazy Heart which was great. I love Young Frankenstein, Tommy Boy, Big Lebowski, Star Wars, Billy Elliot, Sideways, The Goonies, and Independence Day. I guess I'm a big kid.
Favorite TV programs?
Mad Men and Damages are amazing. I also love Dexter, The Sopranos, The West Wing and LOST. The Jeffersons and The Dukes of Hazzard were my favorite shows growing up.
Favorite holiday destinations?
I usually go home to South Carolina and enjoy time with my family and eat REAL home cooked southern food. My parents are ridiculous cooks.
Do you have any hobbies?
I don't know if it's considered a hobby, but I love playing video games. I'm really good at them too. Right now I'm playing Just Cause 2. It could be the greatest game ever!
Do you have any superstitions?
I do the knock on wood thing occaisionally but I kind of like to buck superstitions. I often whistle in the theatre and walk under ladders. Life is more fun when you take risks.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
My PS3, a large supply of Captain Morgan's Rum, and my lady.
What are your future plans?
Well I just proposed to my girlfriend Marissa Heiser and for some reason she said yes. I think she's crazy for marrying me but glad she agreed. We have already started planning and it's quite overwhelming. I would love to keep working as an actor. I think that's every performer's hope. I'm grateful I have such a supportive family (and now extended family) and group of friends that are so supportive of me. I also now have the prettiest, kindest and smartest woman on the earth by my side, for the rest of my life. With her I can do anything. I've never been happier.