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The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis closes out its 2014-2015 studio season with the one-man show, Buyer & Cellar.

 

Inspired by Barbra Streisand's coffee book table, My Passion for Design, the story centers around an unemployed actor, Alex Moore, who is hired to curate the old time shops she had built in her Los Angeles home. The story is in no way factual, as Alex clues the audience into how this is just a work of fiction.

 

I had the opportunity to steal Jeremy Webb, who plays Alex, away from his preparations to talk to him about his life, the legend, and the show.

 

Where are you from originally?

 

I originally hail from Ithaca, New York.

 

Why did you start acting? Who are some of your idols? Buyarrep2

 

My mother likes to tell people that I came out of the womb acting. And while that is probably not true, I was bit by the theatre bug at a very young age. School shows followed, then plays at Cornell, because that was in Ithaca, then performing arts high school and Drama School. It was pretty clear from an early age that this was what I was going to do with my life. I tend to idolize actors of the British stage, like Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellan, David Suchet, Derek Jacobi. Those amazing transformational actors are the actors I idolize and model my work after.

 

If you could cast yourself in any role what would it be?

 

Wow. Any role?!?! Ok, Hamlet. It's the greatest play ever written and I have never had the chance to do it. But then Camille is a good role too...

 

Do you prefer doing musicals or plays?

 

If I had to choose I'd say plays, but musicals are a blast too. Honestly the best thing is the back and forth. This summer I played Private Lives by Noel Coward followed immediately by Spamalot at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. The back and forth of it all is delicious and keeps me on my toes.

 

You have played St. Louis before – what do you like most about the city?

The restaurants! I mean I am a restaurant person and the fried chicken at Old Standard is rocking my world. Also I love that you guys have the Glass Menagerie house and all the locations from that amazing Tennessee Williams play. There is such a rich history here. It's an all around great city. 

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Starring in a one man show has to be daunting. How do prepare for a role of this nature?

 

Well. It's like an athletic event a one man show, so I have had to approach it in that regard. I have trained for this role. Working out more, eating the right foods, laying off the booze. The show is an hour and a half with no intermission and that just takes stamina. Beyond that, its about staying on top of the work and preparing for what the next day holds. I have loved the challenge of this piece. I am more invigorated by the work than I have been in a long time.

 

 

What is your biggest challenge in this role?

 

Probably daring to actually look into people's faces and tell the story right to them! I mean there was a guy just taking a really expensive nap in the front row last night! And so it's also about letting people have their experience and not being offended by something like that in the theatre. But the narrative, storytelling aspect of the story is probably the most challenging aspect of Buyer and Cellar. I have to dare myself to connect with the audience.

 

Barbra Streisand is one of the most beloved of gay icons. Did it intimidate you to be in a play regarding such a legendary performer?

 

No, not at all. She is written as a full character with her own motivations and vulnerabilities in this play, camp though it may be. And I love her. I mean the Barbra in this play. I love her fullness and her realness and I cherish the opportunity to play her. But it's not an impersonation. There are no wigs and no dresses and no heels. It's hard to explain a bit, but ultimately I think the play just makes it make sense. It's a little like the show I might have put on as an eleven year old behind my closed bedroom door...

 

The play is chock-full of laughs. Was there ever a moment when you were expecting a big laugh only to hear silence?
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Oh my, yes. That happens (ahem) all too often. It's just about getting on with it, I think. Moving to the next moment with grace. And trying not to have egg on your face. The central character in Buyer and Cellar, Alex , is a character with tons of wit and charm and he has plenty of pop culture references and observations at his fingertips. So if the audience is not going for a Bea Arthur joke one night, well, maybe they will love the Barbara Boxer jokes instead?

 

I love to hear all the backstage stories – is there anything that happened during rehearsals or backstage that stand out in your mind?

 

 

I instituted a Buyer and Cellar dance party at the beginning of every rehearsal and now it has carried over into performance. Doing a one man show can be a lonely experience and it is a way to get some of that energy going that is so easy to feed off of when you are performing with other people. So I make the crew and the staff and my director get up and dance with me. All About The Base is definitely a dance party fave. I honestly love that part of every day. It's the best.

 

How do you decompress after being on stage for an hour and a half?

 

I eat way too much food, listen to classical music and read The New York Times online! And maybe a hot bath.

 

Where else will we see you after this production of Buyer & Cellar?

 

I have a busy schedule that includes an upcoming feature film called I Do! I Do! , about gay marriage in New Jersey and willBuyerCellar5 supposedly star Vivica A. Fox and Whoopi Goldberg. I have three scenes in that. I am supposed to do projects for The Alley Theatre in Houston and Studio Theatre.

 

Before the show even got underway, The Rep extended the run of Buyer & Cellar due to high demand. That's not shocking - the St. Louis LGBT community loves their icons. Arguably, Ms. Streisand is one of the biggest. With such iconic movie lines as “Hello gorgeous.” and “Your girl is lovely Hubbell.” what's not to love? For us older gays, this is a night to celebrate one of our favorite stars of stage and screen and for the younger gays, consider this production a mandatory on-ramp to LGBT (pop) cultural history.

 

Buyer & Cellar runs through April 5th. Please visit repstl.org for show times and ticket prices.

 

 

 

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