In the spring, I saw WEST SIDE STORY by San Diego Musical Theatre. It was a fantastic production and Jeffrey Scott Parsons played Riff. He is a phenomenal dancer and I loved watching him perform. He was kind enough to do a phone interview with me recently and I am appreciative he did so.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): How did you get your start in theater?
Jeffrey Scott Parsons (JSP): I’m very proud of my story. I’m from a farm town in Utah called Willard, and we lived on my grandpa’s property who was a livestock cattleman. There are five kids in my family (I’m in the middle), and my parents were so supportive in helping each of us find our niche. With me, we tried soccer, karate, t-ball and none of those things worked. One day, we went to a county fair and there were cloggers. I watched it and turned to my dad and said “that’s what I want to do.” My parents found a clogging studio and I was a competitive clogger until the age of 12. At that point, I got interested in community theater and have been ever since.
TPC: Did you go to school for theater?
JSP: My degree is in music, dance and theater from BYU. I got my first professional gig at Tuacahn in Southern Utah where I worked for a summer. After that I knew I needed to decide if I wanted to move to Los Angeles or New York City. A friend needed to sublet his place in LA so I moved there.
TPC: So you live in LA but do a lot of shows in San Diego?
JSP: Yes, I started at Moonlight my first summer in California. I immediately fell in love with the San Diego area, and now I work there whenever I can.
TPC: Since you started as a clogger, do you feel most comfortable dancing?
JSP: Gene Kelly had a huge influence on me. I loved dance in musicals because it drives it. It was telling a story for an objective. As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve tried to work on all three of the areas: dancing, acting and singing. I’m appreciative of the roles I’ve come across lately because they tell me what to focus on. I pride myself in being a triple threat and sharpen my skills depending on the show I’m in.
TPC: Do you do anything outside of being on stage?
JSP: Yes, I work at Disneyland as a performer. They have a Newsboys show at California Adventure that I am part of.
TPC: What’s a role you have played that you loved?
JSP: Hugo Peabody in BYE BYE BIRDIE. It was awesome because I came in 20 minutes after curtain. It takes the pressure off and you can sneak into the world of the show.
TPC: What’s a role you would love to play?
JSP: Leo Bloom in THE PRODUCERS.
TPC: Who is someone you’d like to perform with-dead or alive?
JSP: There are certain people I’d like to be on stage and watch more than perform with them. Let me be a sofa that Elaine Stritch sat on. Or the parasol that Bernadette Peters used in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. If I were to work with my idols, I wouldn’t be able to sit back and enjoy what they do. I dream of having been at WEST SIDE STORY on opening night. I wonder “was the audience terrified, confused, exhilarated, etc.” Now if we’re talking dance partners Eleanor Powell and Vera Ellen would be my choices. Vera Ellen for sure because she’d make me look like a linebacker.
TPC: Anything you want to highlight about this past season or upcoming things?
JSP: Being a more conservative guy, I never really thought I’d play the Emcee in CABARET, so doing it this past season at the Welk was very surprising for me. It taught me so much about simultaneously caring for an audience and flipping them off. That’s how the role is played. What I wasn’t expecting is how much I would care about the characters and the show itself. The Emcee looks upon the action and it made me feel like a parent. The show was a roller coaster and it surprised me every night how the audience and I would react to it.
Also, I want to express my gratitude to San Diego. It has a vibrant community of theater lovers and performers. They know how to care for their audiences and artists, and it’s inspiring. There really is something for everyone: large, small, traditional, new and more.
For more information on Jeffrey, check out: www.jeffreyscottparsons.com