…my six shooter strapped, and i’m lookin’ for a battle.
embarrassingly, those are the lyrics to a really old Kid Rock song called Desperate-Rado, and for whatever reason, they’re what i sing to myself when i begin a new project. i sang those lyrics to myself about a month ago on the way to rehearsals for Atomic, a new rock musical, with New Line Theatre. ostensibly, it’s a show about the Manhattan Project and the demonstration of atomic power, but it’s also a show about rivalry, love, and sacrifice set to power chords and smart writing.
i’m playing Enrico Fermi, a Nobel Prize winning, Italian physicist known as the Architect of the Atom Bomb. when director, Scott Miller, asked me to play him, i jumped at the chance because 1) i enjoy playing historical figures. 2) i love the subject matter. and 3) i eagerly awaited working with this cast and crew.
we tend to glorify the lives of those that altered the course of history. that they somehow lived these amazing lives that superseded the day to day bullshit we all put up with – like office politics, job satisfaction, or how a fight about household chores is really about something else. i enjoy uncovering those bits to add human qualities to the historical figure, i.e. to make the character relatable to the audience. i just like giving my take on what this person would be like.
i enjoy physics. i’m fascinated with movement, action and reaction, and their underlying principles. and learning about nuclear physics as a byproduct of character research has been gravy. i’m from Michigan (hence the Kid Rock), where we had the Fermi Nuclear Generation Station off the coast of Lake Erie. there were 2 reactors (think the power plant in The Simpsons) affectionately called Fermi 1 and 2. they went offline in the early 80s, but that’s where i first became familiar with the name Enrico Fermi. at the cost of stroking my own ego and proving my nerdery, i won’t bore you with details of what i’ve studied, but i have enjoyed the character research, as have my cast mates.
i say and mean this for every show, so this one’s no different. this is a really talented cast, and i was eager to start. i like small casts. this one’s 8 – which is a Fibonacci number, so we’re at one with nature. i had the pleasure of working with all but 2 previously, but i have become a quick fan of both of their work and processes. it’s fun being fans of your friends then getting to work with them. it always feel like a home game. i appreciate the pride that each takes in their* storytelling. while it’s easy to think the show is driven by the story, it is very much character driven. we’re crafting strong characters. i’ve been enjoying the process.
rehearsals move into the theatre today, and this is where things start to get more interesting. we get more acclimated to our environment, so we feel more comfortable and can explore more. it also gets easier to get caught watching. more to come.
*this is now being grammatically accepted for his/her, his or her, etc.