John Bolton has been in musical theater for over twenty years. When I called him, he was busy prepping for a gig at 54 Below tonight where he will be singing OKLAHOMA in German, Italian and Japanese!
The Playbill Collector (TPC): What was the first Broadway show you ever saw?
John Bolton (JB): ANNIE. I loved it but I remember being so mad because I wondered “why can’t there be a BOY orphan?”
TPC: Where are you from?
JB: Rochester, New York.
TPC: When did you start acting?
JB: In high school. My senior year we did THE WIZ and I thought “this is cool, I can do this.” My brothers were in sports and although I liked sports, I really enjoyed theater.
TPC: Did you go to college for theater?
JB: No, I got my BA in Journalism. After college I worked at a bank for a year and then moved to New York City and started auditioning. I joke that I left journalism for a job that was steady, theater.
TPC: What was your first Broadway show?
JB: DAMN YANKEES in 1994. To this day it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life! I’ve been lucky to be in many Broadway shows and many of them have been hits.
TPC: You do television work as well, right?
JB: Yes. I was on Gossip Girl for four seasons until I was killed off (thrown off of a yacht!). I’ve also had roles on Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and will guest-star on Blue Bloods this season.
TPC: You are currently in the Off-Broadway show, PAGEANT. What should people expect when they go see the show?
JB: It is truly a beauty pageant from start to finish. It is not a drag show; the female roles just happen to be played by male actors. It is big, goofy fun! I love to laugh at videos where people are at a wedding and things go wrong. It’s a serious moment that is turned on it’s head. That is the same type of thing with our show. The show takes its shots not by mocking pageants from the outside, but by simply being one. I get to pick the judges every show (people from the audience) and they participate in the competition by actually choosing the winner each night and everyone has a ball.
TPC: Does the audience tend to favor a certain girl?
JB: Each girl has won multiple times. A few have won more than others but nobody has been left in the dust. A couple of them actually make funnier sore losers than they do winners.
TPC: What is your primary role for the show?
JB: My job is to be the emcee and to serve the girls on a silver platter and let them do their thing but at the same time keep things moving and upbeat. I get to improv a lot because each night is so different. The show is so fun that I have turned down other things in order to stay in PAGEANT longer. We have just extended through January!
TPC: What would be your dream role to play?
JB: Revivals are fun but I love creating a role in a new Broadway show. Hopefully one that would become an American classic. I may have done that with A CHRISTMAS STORY to a degree. I played the father on Broadway. It is a movie everyone knows so it was great to create the role on the stage. But to continue to do new projects with great people – who doesn’t dream of that?
TPC: What’s a take away you would like to leave with people.
JB: I love being part of this community. I’m doing more than I ever thought I would do and I get to work with people who are heroes of mine.
For more information on PAGEANT, check out: http://www.broadway.com/shows/pageant-musical/