Gavin Creel is one of the biggest names on Broadway: He won an Olivier Award for his performance in “The Book of Mormon” on London’s West End and has been nominated for Tonys for his performances in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Hair” on Broadway. He just wrapped up a critically-acclaimed run in “She Loves Me” at Studio 54, and next March, will star with Bette Midler in the highly-anticipated revival of “Hello, Dolly!”
This weekend, Creel joins Sirius XM “On Broadway” host Seth Rudetsky at the Parker Playhouse for an evening of songs and stories about life on the Great White Way.
SFGN spoke with Creel about his career, achievements and aspirations in advance of that Broadway Series appearance.
SFGN: Is there any role that has particularly defined your career?
Creel: Claude in “Hair” is the one at the top. To be a part of “Hair” on Broadway and in London was magical, a transcendent experience as a human being. At the same time, we were fighting for marriage equality; we were embracing a moment, using our art to make a little bit of noise here. As an actor, I’m always trying to get back into that place of bliss and joy.
Several years ago, you formed Broadway Impact, an organization to advance LGBT issues. Is Broadway Impact still active?
The organization hasn’t gone away, but it had one mission at the time and that was to get marriage equality in New York state and then nationally. We wanted to have an action committee to awaken the community of performers—I pause to say political—but to be activated and at the time it was marriage equality. I wasn’t political before, but once in a while something smashes you around and you have to do something. In this uncertain time, I hope our community will continue to stand up for LGBT rights and minorities and the disenfranchised and the scared.
How did you feel about the “Hamilton” cast’s onstage statements to Vice President-elect Mike Pence at that performance after the election?
It was a complicated reaction for me. I don’t agree with what this man has done in the past and what he has said—especially against the gay community—but I guess I was proud of the team. Whether it was the right call or not, I don’t know. I wasn’t the producer in that position. I did find it disappointing the audience booed the man when he walked in. The theaters should have class. It’s one thing to boo a performance… but, he sort of asked for it, coming to the biggest show in the world eight days after the elections. Sure, he wanted to go out, but Barack Obama said it, don’t boo, vote, engage. I thought the speech was stunning. Whether it was right or not, I don’t care, but I was proud. They took a chance and made a decision and that’s what makes them all bad asses.
You turned 40 this year. Has that milestone changed your perspective on a career in the theater?
I don’t care much about age, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it...it does affect me in vain, stupid ways. I look in the mirror and ask why’s my skin doing “that.” It’s the same thing that 30 did for me. When I turned 30, I said I deserve to be respected now. If you don’t respect me, I’m going to engage with someone else. When I turned 35, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing. At 40, I decided I’m going to work and not spend time doing anything I don’t want to be doing, just because I think I should or to make people feel happy. That brings a half-assed Gavin and doesn’t produce good work. At 40, I want to wake up and do what I want to do and also be a better citizen. Hopefully, I can be selfish and magnanimous at the same time. Is that possible? Call me at 45 and I’ll tell you.
Do you currently have someone special in your life?
I don’t talk about the details, but I’m very much in love. I have a wonderful boyfriend. That helps at 40. I have a new mantra to not take things so personally this year—to be playful, not personal for 2017. I think it’s working. Being in love helps that. I’m not giving enough credit where credit is due.
Gavin Creel and Seth Rudetsky appear in Mark Cortale’s Broadway Concert Series on Friday, Dec. 30 at 8:19 p.m. at the Parker Playhouse, Tickets start at $37 at ParkerPlayhouse.com.