Backbeard: The Musical is the rollicking tale of Backbeard, the hairiest pirate who ever lived, and his quest to answer the question “How should a pirate look?” When a rowdy birthday party ruins his clothes, a pair of persuasive tailors convinces him to try a vibrant new outfit of patterned trousers, a colorful coat, and a pig. Now the fearsome pirate must face his greatest challenges: winning the acceptance of the Pirate Council, the townspeople, and even his own crew, in a high-spirited story of courage, acceptance, and standing up for who you are. Starring as Backbeard is veteran actor Jimmy Kieffer.
T2C had a chance to talk to this sea loving pirate of the sea.
T2C: What had you done prior to coming to NYMF?
Jimmy Kieffer: I just played Luther Billis in South Pacific at the Guthrie. I do a lot of regional theatre such as the Alliance and Aekansas Rep. I mostly do Shakespeare and classical theatre such as Shaw. I was in Peter and The Starcatcher at New World Stages and Shipwreaked, so you could say I’ve played a pirate before.
T2C: What drew you to this show?
Jimmy Kieffer: My manager set up the audition. I hadn’t known anything about this show but I did two shows like this and I really am a sailor, so this role was no surprise to my friends.
T2C: What is your character like?
Jimmy Kieffer: I play Backbeard and he is a pirate who is in charge of the typical rough and rowdy crew. He has a crisis of identity when force to buy new pirate clothes. Having been told all his life pirates dress in black and browns, his new clothes are bright and are breaking his pirate rules.
T2C: Had you done a NYMF show before?
Jimmy Kieffer: No, this is my first normally I am out of town for the summer.
T2C: What advice would you give to young actors?
Jimmy Kieffer: Most of the actors in the show are college students or have just graduated. I tell them all the time figure out what you need to be the best actor you can be. I waited 12 years to go to graduate school. Look for performance opportunities.
T2C: What roles would you like to take on?
Jimmy Kieffer: Sweeney Todd is my dream role. Javeret in Les Miserable is also high on the list.
T2C: What is musical theatre lacking?
Jimmy Kieffer: I don’t think it’s lacking, its very inventive and new composers are becoming famous. The ideas are getting more and more diverse. What it does lack is the idea that it is accessible to everybody. I can’t see as many shows as I would like to see because it’s too expensive.
T2C: What is your favorite show?
Jimmy Kieffer: Sweeney Todd. I am a Sondheim nerd.
T2C: What is the one thing that has surprised you since being in this business?
Jimmy Kieffer: How much work you have to do to sell yourself as a performer. You think in the beginning that what was lacking was having an agent. Then you realize a agent only gets 10% and therefore only does 10% of the work. You think if you have an agent, that you are all set when you are young. You have to do most of the work.
T2C: What do you hope audiences take away from your show?
Jimmy Kieffer: The message of the show is be true to yourself and don’t sacrifice your personality for what the world wants of you.
Backbeard: The Musical runs at the Acron Theatre, 416 West 42nd St. 7/31 @ 8pm, 8/3 @ 5pm, 8/5 @ 10:30am, 8/5 @ 1:30am and 8/6 @ 1:00am.