From early career highlights playing a bench to current hijinks as co-writer and performer in You, Or Whatever I Can Get at Flying V through February 27. Vaughn Irving tells all in this week’s Take Ten.
1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
The first show I remember seeing is Phantom of the Opera. I was probably seven years old, and the music, the lights, the spectacle of it...from the moment that organ started playing I was in. The energy coming off that stage was so exciting that I started asking for theatre tickets for my birthday every year.
2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
When I was eight years old I started doing an after school theatre program. I was shy and terrified. The show was Pinocchio and I played a bench, a donkey, and part of a house.
3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
What a question! I’ve never been good with favorites. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Children’s Hour, Importance of Being Earnest, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Company, Urinetown… too many choices. I want a play to hold me inside its fictional world, suspend me in a place and time that is not my own, and then (without me realizing) make me think about large human issues.
4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?
Stockboy at Joann Fabrics. I was doing regional work and I was at one theatre for about 6 months so I got a supplementary job. I would get done with my show at 10:30 or 11pm and then get up at 4am to shower before going to work. The job was taking thimbles, spools of thread, scrapbooking materials, out of boxes and hanging them on walls. Did I mention I’m colorblind? Because I am. I worked from 6am to 10am 2 days a week for 7.50 an hour. In the long run, my sanity wasn’t worth the $50 a week in take home pay.
5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
I was 21 and playing Jonathan Harker in a comedy adaptation of Dracula called Dracula ReVamped at a summerstock in North Carolina. During an early scene, the Count sat me down in a chair while two attractive female vampires kissed my neck and stroked my arms and legs. On the first performance, when I stood up, something else was standing up too. It was embarrassing, but also hilarious. Hilarious to both the cast and the audience, but it really worked for the moment.
6) What are you enjoying most about working on You, Or Whatever I Can Get?
The team. Hands down. This show was written by the director, the music director, and the four core members on the cast (including me). I feel so lucky that we were able to assemble such a talented and brilliant group. While I am credited as “lead writer” I could have never written a piece this strong on my own. It’s like being in a sitcom writers room. Everyone is smart, creative, and hilarious!
7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
Oscar Wilde. Who would not want to talk for a few hours with one of the wittiest people that ever lived?
8) What is your dream role/job?
Role: There are too many to list. But now that I’m thinking about Oscar Wilde, Algernon in Importance of Being Earnest.
Job: I always dreamed about running a theatre company in my home town, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in September of last year I was hired as the Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Playhouse.
9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
I must be in a comedy mood right now, because I want the see the Marx Brothers back in their vaudeville days, before they started making films.
10) What advice would you give to an 8 yearold smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
I would want advice from the 8 year old. “What is it about the theatre that gets you excited, and how do we get more people interested?”
For a graduating MFA student: Don’t forget to create. I did five years of professional regional work before I came to DC; I was working consistently and earning equity health weeks, but I wasn’t artistically satisfied. I came to town and, for the first time, I had trouble getting cast. So I started writing and producing my own work, by far the most fulfilling thing I have done in my career.
VAUGHN IRVING is an actor, musician, playwright, songwriter, and director. Vaughn has performed in over 40 professional productions in seven states and the District of Columbia. DC area credits include: Wiley and the Hairy Man , and The BFG (Imagination Stage); The Temperamentals (Rep Stage); Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk, which he wrote, produced and starred in at the Capital Fringe Festival in 2013. Vaughn has recently taken a job as the Artistic Director of Santa Fe Playhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Vaughn is a proud member of Actor's Equity.