Rory Max Kaplan (Photo: Damian Sandone via The Broadway Blog.)
Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. To finish off 2016, we’re staying close to home with New York native Rory Max Kaplan, currently appearing in A Bronx Tale. Based on Chazz Palminteri’s play and subsequent film, this streetwise musical will take you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s—where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be.
Rory Max Kaplan
The ensemble gets quite a workout in A Bronx Tale. What was your audition experience like and how would you describe Sergio Trujillo’s choreography?
It was a blast and it really tested me – but there was a great vibe in the room and all I could think about was, “Dammit, I want this.”
Marc Kimelman (associate choreographer) taught the combination. He possesses a style that makes it easy to embody Sergio’s choreography—and I feel like I’m fulfilling my grandfather’s dream of dancing like Gene Kelly on Broadway. On the hour break we got after learning the combination, I got to meet and hang out with my future cast mate Cary Tedder. That was an unforgettable experience because for some reason I knew I was going to be working with this guy.
The other half of the process involved my auditions to understudy the role of Calogero. Stepping into a room with Jerry Zaks, Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, all the producers and the rest of the creative team, to show them what I’ve got was one of many unforgettable experiences to come.
You get to play a lot of different characters throughout the show. Do you have a favorite?
I love being one of the four doo-wop guys. The four of us have a serious connection that we really put our hearts into creating. That totally carries over to playing “Handsome Nick.” I love the suit I wear (thanks to costume designer William Ivey Long). If I could have worn it to the opening night party, I would have.
Did you have a chance to visit the neighborhood that served as Chazz Palminteri’s inspiration? If so, what was your experience?
A good chunk of us cast members took a trip to 187th Street and Belmont Avenue for a whole day. Chazz met up with us and we went to Little Italy where we ate at Mike’s Deli. We also made a trip to Gino’s Pastry Shop. I had the best cannoli and cappuccino ever. We sang some doo-wop under the streetlamp, with our loved ones watching us, which concluded a day truly spent with family.
As a native New Yorker, what was it like growing up in the city?
New York City will always be my home. You grow up to develop a different perspective about this city versus someone who moves here having grown up somewhere else. I’d like to say it’s a place just like anywhere else, but that would be a lie. I learned everything from this city. And it’s still teaching me. There was nothing like taking dance classes here or having Broadway as your local theater scene. Not to mention the streets and the people—the best character study there is.
Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
“This is your places call! Places please – places for the top of Act I.” There is nothing like hearing those words.
If I weren’t a performer, I would be:
A music producer.
The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My dressing room.
After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Search the Village and look up where to hear live music. Have yourself a real New York experience—other than seeing a Broadway show, of course.
If I could live anywhere else in the world, it would be:
I have yet to see enough places around the world to have a preference, but Canada has been sounding great these days.
My workout “secret” is:
Get really good at throwing women over your head. And catch them as they come down. Please catch them. (Onstage, of course!)
When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Laughter and soul.
People would be surprised to learn that I…
Had my first motorcycle ride when I was just over a week old.
When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Ten years from now, I’d like to have:
A long career behind me as well as in front of me. Film, TV and still rockin’ the stage, with a wife and family by my side.
A Bronx Tale is currently playing at the Longacre Theatre.
Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.