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THEATER BUFF: Brian Spitulnik of “Chicago”

June 20th, 2012

Every third Wednesday, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. For June, we’re busting out all over for a real renaissance man–performer, published author and Jem collector…

Brian Spitulnik. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Name: Brian Spitulnik

Hometown: Potomac, Maryland

Current Show/Role: Chicago/Swing

The best part of the show I’m in now is: The Kander and Ebb score is, of course, iconic, but the genius of Ralph Burns’s orchestrations and Peter Howard’s dance arrangements are what it’s all about for me. I’m not much of a musician, but I can tell you that what’s happening on that bandstand every night is unusual and extraordinary.

The most challenging job in show business I ever had was: Dancing in the ensemble of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Eighteen shows a week in an elf costume, a Santa fat-suit, and under 55 pounds of foam and fur as a Russian Bear nearly destroyed me.

If I wasn’t an actor, I would be: A writer. I graduated from Columbia University last month with a Masters in Nonfiction Writing. Writing is the only way I can think things out and even begin trying to make sense of the world.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? Curtain call. No matter what has happened onstage that night, there is a sense of accomplishment and solidarity that happens when we all bow together then clatter up the flights of steps to our dressing rooms at the end of the show.

The best post-show cocktail in town is at: E&E Grill House. Though, I’m biased. Not only is the restaurant a matter of feet from our stage door, but they also treat the cast of Chicago as if we were celebrities, which generally makes me feel pretty good about life.

Brian Spitulnik. Image via Brian Spitulnik.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to: The Cloisters. Up in Fort Tryon Park, you’d never know you were in New York  (though, come to think of it, if you’re visiting from Ohio, a park and an old monastery at the top of Manhattan might not be what you came here to see).

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be: Paris. I lived there for a semester in college and I felt like the city was mine, unlike New York, which I think you can feel a part of but never really claim ownership.

Pick a Peter: Pan, Parker or “the Great”? Pan. Does everyone say that? There is something about choosing to be in this profession that necessitates a deep belief that you will never grow up. And, of course, Peter Pan flies. Every dancer, at some point or another, has known what that feels like, and I’m here to tell you, it’s an addictive feeling.

My workout “secret” is: To make working out as much of a habit as brushing my teeth. I feel wrong and a little icky if I don’t. So, I do.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than: Depending on my mood, but in no particular order: lips, eyes, education. Actually, in that exact order, regardless of my mood.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is: McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I have been a fan of McSweeney’s for a long time, so when they decided to run my column, The Chorus Boy Chronicles, I was pretty stoked. But what drew me to the website in the first place was the fact that they collect some of the funniest, most bizarre, intelligent, and creative writing you can find anywhere.

Board Shorts, Speedo or Skinny Dip? Skinny dipping is incredibly liberating, but how often does the opportunity present itself in Manhattan? A board short makes me feel like I’m in middle school, and Speedos like I should be tanning at a Vegas resort. Can I choose the middle ground? A sensible short-trunk?

Brian Spitulnik. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

People would be surprised to learn that I: Had a collection of Jem and the Hologram dolls until I was nine or ten (I bet no one is surprised to learn that, actually).

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like: Fred Astaire. Of course.

Ten years from now, I’d like to be: A Pulitzer/Tony/Oscar/Nobel winning author, living in a big house on the ocean with my husband and children, and my parents, siblings, and my siblings’ families nearby.

Pride Parade, Pride Party or Pride of Lions? June of 2007 was the only time I’ve walked in the Pride Parade, and it was only because I was hired by a temp agency to pass out Fresh Direct fliers along the parade route. That was a week before I booked Chicago, I hadn’t been on Broadway yet, and I was pissed to be doing anything that wasn’t performing. But somewhere along the way, I realized what a beautiful thing that parade is. To see all those people who were both nothing and everything like me, celebrating exactly who they are. I also realized, at the same time, how terribly f***ed up it was that we weren’t celebrating who we are every moment of every day.

Brian Spitulnik. Photo by Bobby Araujo.

Brian Spitulnik in "Chicago". Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

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