Checking In With… A Strange Loop Star Larry Owens

Interview   Checking In With… A Strange Loop Star Larry Owens
 
Owens returns to Feinstein's/54 Below in July with his new solo show, Sondheimia.
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Larry Owens Joseph Marzullo/WENN

As the temporary shutdown of Broadway continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.

During Pride Month, the series continues with LGBTQIA+ artist Larry Owens, who was most recently seen on the New York stage in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop, for which he received a Drama League nomination as well as Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel, and Drama Desk Awards. The actor's other Off-Broadway credits include Spamilton, Gigantic, and Fat Camp, while his screen credits include High Maintenance, Betty, Dash and Lily, and Helpsters plus the upcoming seasons of Modern Love and Life and Beth. The actor also provided voices for Fairfax and Harley Quinn.

Owens will return to Feinstein's/54 Below July 9 and 31 with his new solo show, Sondheimia, which explores time, love, and ambition through the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Owens debuted the concert evening June 19; click here for ticket information.

Checking In With… Kinky Boots Star Kevin Smith Kirkwood

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Larry Owens and cast of A Strange Loop Joan Marcus

What is your typical day like now?
I’m so happy that live performances are returning! In addition to singing and acting, I do stand-up comedy. I spend my days answering e-mails and pretending to be a calm person until I can go out and be onstage. I just moved into a new apartment, so I spend a lot of time on that plus exploring my new neighborhood in Brooklyn.

How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
My 54 Below show Sondheimia [Sond-HEE-MEE-uh] is the product of my overflowing creative juices during this time. Left with not a ton to do, my mind was full up of the potential to create. What I missed most, I think, was being able to be the vessel. To be the interlocutor between art and audience. Alone in quarantine I felt so much pressure to “save myself.” I had to remember that I had always been saving myself, it just used to happen onstage.

I’ve always wanted to do a Sondheim show, but I never thought that I had the time and diligence to dive into the work in a special way. I’m so fortunate that I was given that time, and this show is a product of that. Performing Mr. Sondheim’s music and lyrics feels like coming home to my body.

Larry Owens in <i>Gigantic</i>
Larry Owens in Gigantic Photo by Carol Rosegg

How do you feel about returning to live performance?
Please go see a show! The ecosystem of New York relies on our audiences. More people go to Broadway each year than to see the Yankees. Plus, behind every great show is a huge team of folks in hospitality, production, tech, and venues who benefit as well. It’s thrilling to be reconnected with them, my colleagues and collaborators.

What would you say to audience members who may be feeling uneasy about returning to a theatre?
Trust the science, babe.

Are there any particular ways you celebrate Pride Month each year? How will you celebrate this year?
Fortunately, my debut 54 Below show [fell] on June 19th, which [was] so perfect—the intersection of Juneteenth and Pride Month! I [could] think of no better place to be than onstage with my amazing music supervisor Josh Kight and performing this show I crafted with my brilliant co-director, Chip Miller. The entire experience feels like a huge party, as Pride Month should.

What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I love, love, love the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and the Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program.

Checking In With… Jose Llana, Star of The King and I, Here Lies Love, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

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