When playing Scarecrow is more real than Oz

 

unnamed

Morgan Reynolds as the Scarecrow, taken from his Instagram @morganwreynolds

By Amanda McNulty  

Morgan Reynolds’ head may have been scratching when the offer was hatching: he was about to become the Scarecrow. Although the talented actor is the iconic character in the second national tour of The Wizard of Oz, Reynolds not only has a brain, but also a bigger heart than any tin man could ever imagine.

Having grown up on a farm, Reynolds is all too familiar with the quirky straw  man. After a chance encounter with an opportunity to see Wicked, the Oz spinoff and Broadway hit, Reynolds went into his last of nine callbacks for the scarecrow. Even though he mounts the face of the iconic character almost every night, the fame has not and will not go to his head.

Reynolds is no stranger to packing up and touring, after doing two years on a Disney Cruise. Although he may take planes and cruise ships to reach new destinations in his life, Reynolds likes to keep grounded. Whenever a fan asks him for an autograph, or a picture, or even asks to talk theatre and go out for coffee, Reynolds “will always say yes”. I was lucky enough to sit down with the spirited actor while the tour passed through Buffalo.

 

image1-3

Amanda McNulty and Morgan Reynolds at SPoT Coffee on Chippewa

The “Scarecrow” is such an iconic character. How does it feel to be stepping in the shoes of the great Ray Bolger?

Reynolds: It is actually a dream come true! I grew up loving Ray Bolger. Specifically Ray Bolger and Tommy Tune growing up. Now, to be stepping into this role, it’s kind of crazy! When my parents came to see it, it was insane! I literally would act this out in front of the television! To portray such a classic song and dance man, which is very few and far between these days, that’s what’s really fun about it. So I say, my scarecrow is a little bit of Ray Bolger, Tommy Tune and a little bit of Jerry Lewis. Oh and obviously myself too!

As you think about your life today, what is something you are doing that you never would have expected to happen?

R: I would say what I’m doing right now! I have moments on this tour and you need to check in and be like “You know what? 16 year old Morgan would be SO proud right now.” This business is so fast and ever changing that if you don’t take a moment to stop and say “Wow, I’m doing this,”  you might not realize it. It’s nice to just take a step back. I would say maybe this. Just living this life is something I always dreamed about. When I was about 14, my parents took me to see the touring production of Thoroughly Modern Millie in Los Angeles and of course it was amazing, and I was in the back seat of the van and I cried all the way home. And my mom asked why I was crying and I said “I’m never going to be able to do that I’m never going to be that good!” And I always like to remember that story because now I’m here. I’m doing it right now. The steps will always be there if you keep running.

When did you realize that theatre was what you wanted to do?

R: I’ve always know that I wanted to be in some performance/theatre facet. I grew up as a 4H kid and I raised market swine and horse until I was 18 years old and I didn’t really start performing until the last year of high school when I started working at Disneyland. I always knew from a young age that I wanted to do something, I just didn’t know what it was.

Was your family supportive with your choice to be an actor?

R: Yeah! My family has always been supportive of me doing whatever I wanted to do. It’s nice because growing up, I would tell my mom “I want to do this” or “I want to do this show!” And she would say “Great but you have to do it yourself.” She didn’t try to push me in either direction and I’m so thankful for that because it made me a harder worker and work for what I wanted to do but also feel strongly enough to keep running towards my goal. This business is so hard, if you don’t have that strong drive, it’s going to be too hard to make it past those hurdles that come along the way.

What was the scariest thing about leaving your hometown and what was the most exciting?

R: The scariest thing is always the unknown. I get asked all the time “So your tour is going until July, what will you do next?” And I say I don’t know! That’s the scary thing about this business. You never know what is going to happen next so you are constantly having to hustle and keep working towards something. When I moved to New York for this first time, the scariest thing was buying that one-way ticket but you have to just follow your gut instinct. I always say just keep running towards your goal and don’t look at the ground because something will eventually happen. You just have to not look at the fears.

I know there is a “special someone” in your life.  How hard is it to keep your personal relationship alive when you are constantly away from each other?

R: We met while we both had gigs, he was in Kinky Boots for two years and I was on a layoff at the time and we randomly met at Disney through two groups of friends. It’s difficult because it’s hard to plan your schedule around it but you have to make it work! It is what it is! This business is always going to be tough because you’re always away from your family, your friends, your loved ones, so you just have to make it work. We have a rule that we have to see each other with 6 weeks or less and we don’t want to go over that because then it gets difficult. Sometimes you get to know the person even more because you are forced to communicate.

How did you find out that you got the part of the “Scarecrow”?

R: My agent called me but I had nine callbacks for this. It was over a couple of months and some were like work sessions where I would just go in and work with the directors, work with the choreographer to get the material in my body. Then a couple weeks later I got a call from my agent that I got the role but we had to wait so long because they cast the principals in July? Or April? I can’t even remember now and they didn’t cast the ensemble until September so we had to wait so long and just say “They told me this was happening but I don’t know!”

Have you gotten used to people coming up to you and knowing exactly who you are?

R: It’s really surreal, even to this day, when people want to meet you or ask for your autograph because that is insane and I still feel like that sixteen year old kid listening to my cast recordings and idolizing Gavin Creel. When I was younger, a friend of my mom’s friend got us a backstage tour at the production of 42nd Street tour that came to Los Angeles and that was so gracious of that chorus girl that a friend of a friend of a friend knew to take a young upcoming artist and show them what that kind of world is and that changed me. That made me say “Oh, I can do this. This is in my grasp” and I always take my time to talk about theatre or meet me or do anything! I will always say yes because someone took a chance on me and that affected me as a young artist and now I’m affecting the next generation of young artists so it’s kind of cool.

What is the best advice that you would give to aspiring performers?

R: Always be kind and be gracious and just create anything. I’m always trying to do new projects and new music videos just to create something because your time is so precious. I always say “Create your timehop!” I want to create my timehop so in a couple of years I can look back and say “Wow!” And if that affects one person, that makes it all the better. I want to affect people with my art so I am always creating which I encourage everyone to do. The goal for art is to always affect someone in a positive way. Just keep creating!

To end our interview, finish this sentence “In ten years, I will be…”

R: Creating. That’s all. I don’t like to put end goals on anything because when you do, you might miss an opportunity along the way since you are so focused on that end goal. It’s the little stops along the way that you might miss. I never want to lose the passion to keep moving forward. If you lose the passion to keep moving forward, you might burn out! I want to take the small steps so I’m not overseeing the other things put in my path.

You can catch Morgan in a city near you in the Wizard of Oz second national tour or follow his selfies and tour-shenanigans on Instagram @MorganWReynolds !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s