THE LEADING MEN: Perez Hilton, From Blogging to Off-Broadway in NEWSical the Musical

By Brandon Voss
31 Aug 2012

Perez Hilton
Photo by Rhoel Paghunasan

What were some of the first musicals to make an impact on you?
PH: My first trip to New York was in January 1996, when I came here to audition for NYU. My mom and I went to see Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews and Grease. I don't think Rosie O'Donnell was still in that production in 1996, but Rosie has been a great source of inspiration and motivation for me when it comes to theatre. I don't mean this with any disrespect, but for the last year or so, as I've really been putting it out there that I wanted to do Broadway, I've been telling people, "If Rosie O'Donnell can be on Broadway, then so can I." Because she's definitely not the best singer in the world, and some people would say that she's not a good singer at all, but that's OK, because she's a personality, she's fun, and she brings a lot of great energy to the theatre. I think that's what I do too.

So you don't consider yourself a singer?
PH: I'm definitely not a singer at all, and we mention that and make fun of it all in NEWSical. The show doesn't take itself too seriously and I don't take myself too seriously, but I am taking what I do very seriously. I showed up to the first day of rehearsals completely prepared and off-book, and everybody was shocked. Apparently, a lot of people don't come to the first day off-book and with all their songs memorized, but I feel like I definitely have something to prove here, which is that I don't suck. I want everybody to know that I want to be here, I respect this, and I'm appreciative.

You've played yourself in a number of TV shows and films. Are you playing yourself in NEWSical?
PH: There are parts were I'm playing myself and parts where I'm playing characters — real people. But I want to put this out there through Playbill, because maybe it will happen, but I would love to have a role on "Smash," and it would be great to not play myself. So to anyone involved with "Smash" who's reading this, I'm available and will work for free!

In rehearsals, as your first performance gets closer, what do you see as your biggest challenge?
PH: I like being overly prepared, and I need to be overly prepared, because I'm such a hard worker — it's the Cuban in me. But the way that NEWSical works, because it's going to be a majorly updated new production with new material, there's some material that's still being written. So there are some songs that I don't have yet, and I just wish I had them to start drilling them into my head.