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  BLUE PUPPET TALKING: AN AVENUE Q & A.  
   
 

Playing the closeted investment banker Rod in Broadway's summer buzz-machine Avenue Q isn't a stretch for this blue puppet from Staten Island. "The part is based on me," he admits. "I met the writers and they said, 'Hey, you're blue, you're a banker, you're perfect!'"

BT: Do you find it hard to play yourself?

R: It's bizarre. There are some nights when I come off stage and I feel very introspective -- I have to take a moment. But it's also easy. I mean, I can't imagine what Melanie Griffith is going through, walking into a role where you're playing someone else! Wow. But she's got legs so…

 

 
 

BT: Do people judge you because you're blue?

R: People have trouble because of my species. Some people aren't into inter-species dating. I find that most people are pretty accepting-they're fascinated by my pigment, so it's an icebreaker that kind of opens them up. Especially living in New York. We're lucky because everyone appreciates different colors.

BT: Is this your first big acting gig?

R: It is.

BT: Were you with the show off-Broadway too?

R: I was. I acquired the role. Before this I was an investment banker-as I still am part-time. And my friend said, 'Hey, why don't you go audition?' and I said, 'Okay.' And I sang Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back."

BT: That's a tough song.

R: It is-it's very challenging to the vocal range but I pulled through. You know, no vibrato, I just sang it out from my heart, and I got the part.

BT: How did you feel when you heard the show was going to Broadway?

R: Oh, I was thrilled. It's a childhood dream. I dreamed of someday seeing my name or my face on the Great White Way. And here I am. Every night before the show I sing along to "Hello, Dolly" to get me in the mood.

BT: Do you get along with your co-stars?

R: I do. We go to family dinner every Sunday -- sometimes to Chat 'n Chew or sometimes to Virgil's and get some down home cookin'. We have taffy pulls. They tried to freeze my bra -- I mean, I don't

ROD'S RANGE.
His name may be Rod, but he looks like a Tony to us.

 
 

wear one. I just have one. For the drawer.

BT: So no tension between you and your co-stars with legs?

R: Oh, no-they're dreams. You know, it's nice -- we have monsters, we have me, we have people. Some of us fight over who gets to sleep in which storage bin and who gets to hang on which peg, that kind of thing. But usually we get along pretty well.

BT: No diva behavior?

R: Oh, no! I stay real.

BT: What's your favorite scene in the show?

R: I like "Fantasies Come True," my solo. It's a challenge for me because I have to dig down inside and find an emotional center. I hear Tom Cruise does that too -- he looks deep inside before he does a scene, and that's kinda what I do. Not that I'm as famous as he is!

BT: But I hear you were recently photographed by Richard Avedon, right?

R: That was the coolest thing in the world! I couldn't stop talking about Marilyn Monroe. The man photographed the Beatles for Christ's sake! And now me!

BT: Do you get recognized a lot now on the street?

R: Yeah, I do. I find it hard to go out, you know. If I walk through Chelsea it's like, forget it. It's a little scary because I'm a very private person, but it's flattering. Now I know how Antonio Banderas feels. It must be the same thing.

BT: Any thoughts on your next acting project?

R: Bea Arthur and I are trying to put a show together. It's gonna be called "Old Friends, Good Times…" you know the rest.

 

*BT*