by Sara Brown
The first time I saw WEST SIDE STORY it was the movie version, but I instantly fell in love with the story and music. This year, I saw the new national tour and became obsessed. In this interview Jeff Smith, who plays Jet member Snowboy, talks about touring, his past and future, and shows off a hidden talent.
BWW: What got you into musical theatre/how did you know it's what you wanted to do?
JS: I grew up playing around in my parents' gymnastics gym, so from a young age I had been flipping around and working on my body and really learned to enjoy training. I feel like that's one of my favorite things about musical theatre. The work is never done. You can always improve.I think that's the one thing that keeps me working. I love knowing that a higher peak can always be reached.
BWW: What is it like to tour a production verses being on one stage?
JS: Touring with any show you have to be aware of wear and tear on all parts of your body and voice. Even tiny pains from shows can start to add up when you get to show number 255.
Also, the constant changing of venues is another struggle that can at times be very rewarding. Learning to deal with new spaces seamlessly can really season even the most green of musical theatre performers.
BWW: What is your favorite musical/play and why?
JS: I am careful to pick favorites or least favorite shows. I think every show has something great to offer. And for me, any show is a potential job for me. I don't want to choose a show to love or hate and risk making myself unhappy in a professional working situation.
BWW: Typecasting aside, what would be one role you would love to play?
JS: I've always wanted to play Enjolras in LES MISERABLES and... It is my type! 2014 Bway revival? ;-)
BWW: What is your favorite memory of any show you have done?
JS: I played Plato & Macavity last summer at Gateway Playhouse with a healthy number of performers who had done it on Broadway many years ago. Our closing performance of the jellicle ball was unbelievable. Such an inspiring number for the cats onstage. All shows try to share those moments with the audience. But CATS is one of those show you just need to be in to fully understand how it feels. Amazing moments.
BWW: What keeps you energized on the bus rides?
JS: Nothing! I sleep as much as I can. Or I fill out interviews. :-)
BWW: Do you have a favorite theater tradition?
JS: I can't say that I do. We've played over 80 cities in the last 9 months. Sadly, we don't have time for anything terribly extra. I do always eat a couple mints before I have any romantic moments onstage. It's only polite, right?
BWW: What has been the best part of touring with West Side Story?
JS: The material. This show is one of the greatest shows in terms of heart, and balance, and the need for true triple threats! This show is really amazing ride and I feel very blessed to grace the stage each night performing it.
BWW: Any future plans you can share?
Yes! I'll be playing Big Deal (WEST SIDE STORY) at Ogunquit Playhouse in September. Yay for employment!
Like the Jeff said, to be in WEST SIDE STORY, you have to be a triple threat, so it's obvious the boy can sing. but did you know he can play guitar as well?
You can find more videos like this on his YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/JeffxMichaelxSmith?feature=watch. You can also keep up-to-date on what shenanigans he and the cast get into by following him on Twitter https://twitter.com/JeffmsmithNYC