Theater Interview: JASON GRAAE (Appearing in His New Cabaret “Graavitas” at CVRep on June 20, 2024)

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by Jason Mannino on June 13, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Palm Springs (Coachella Valley)

Jason Graae is a frisky clown.

The New York Times

What can be said about musical comedy actor and funny man Jason Graae? Well, first, his last name is pronounced “Grah.” Second, third, and fourth, he has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and on over 65 CDs (“over”? no one has counted?). But Graae especially shines in the cabaret scene. He has won four NYC Bistro Awards, among others; he starred with Faith Prince in the critically acclaimed The Prince and the Showboy); and his own Graaetest Hits the Sequel was a riot. Now, the infinitely talented Jason Graae returns to CVRep in Cathedral City on June 20, 2024, with his new show Graavitas, in which he explores his roots (life, not hair) with songs and stories.

Jason Mannino had a chance to catch up with Mr. Graae for Stage and Cinema.

S&C: Commendably, your career has crossed so many mediums. What has been your favorite?

JG: I tend to romanticize the past so I love whatever art form I haven’t gotten to do in a while. Right now, that’s Opera and TV. I miss the grandiosity of the Opera World. I was trained as a classical pianist and oboist before I began acting, so l feel oddly at home in the opera world. I’m kind of a 2-trick pony in that world — I’ve done many Merry Widows and five Die Fledermice. Oh and I did Grand Duchess at LA Opera directed by Garry Marshall. THAT was a trip and a 1/2! And TV pays so darn well and so many people are able to see your work, so that’s fun. Hopefully both will make a return to my world soon!

S&C: What is your inspiration for this new cabaret, Graavitas?

JG: I came up with the title months before I came up with the show. I feel the title has given me a lotta leeway to explore both weightier parts of life with the funny and sometimes absurd.

S&C: Tell us about the essence of this show and how it came together.

JG: Oh it’s a hodgepodge! Or should I say smorgasbord? My family comes from Denmark. I’ll talk about my Mom who was a dancer in NYC, as well as my rise and fall as Lucky the Leprechaun for Lucky Charms Cereal. It’s all over the map!

S&C: You are no stranger to Coachella Valley stages/cabaret. What keeps you coming back to the desert?

JG: I love the desert! Also, I tend to go wherever I’m hired so it’s very lucky that I love Palm Springs. How can you not? And the audiences are always so savvy and frisky.

S&C: What do you want audiences to leave with after seeing your cabaret?

JG: My CDs.

S&C: You have quite a legacy career e.g. the original cast of Forever Plaid (one of my favorites) on stage at the Hollywood Bowl as Benny in Guys and Dolls and Marcellus in The Music Man, the Met Opera. Are there milestones for you?

JG: Well Forever Plaid will always be near and dear to my heart. I made friends for life in that show. I played Houdini the US premiere of Ragtime in LA at the Shubert Theatre — what a spectacular show! Probably my favorite show I’ve ever done is Falsettos on Broadway and the National Tour. That show laid me out. I recently played the Wizard in the National tour of Wicked — every night was like opening night. Audiences went absolutely nuts for the show. It really is a phenomenon.

S&C: Tell us about other upcoming projects.

JG: Well I’ll be flying to NYC the week after my CVR show to do a run of Happily Ever Laughter at 54 Below with my great friend Liz Callaway. We will be live streaming it on closing night July 6th. Then back to LA in Jason Graae and Friends at Catalina’s Jazz Club, on July 28th with some very spectacular special guests.

Jason Graae – Graavitas
Coachella Valley Rep
Thursday, June 2o, 2024 at 7p.m.
for tickets ($50), call 760.2962966 x 201 or visit CVRep

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