Bryce Pinkham is busy.
The week I chatted with him, the singing actor was doing a reading, working with his non-profit organization based in Madagascar, and, of course, charming audiences as the murderous yet enchanting Monty [D'Ysquith] Navarro. Killing off six other D'Ysquiths once a day (and twice on Wednesday and Saturday) to the tune of 48 hilariously tragic murders a week at the Walter Kerr Theatre can make a man work up quite an appetite.
"The schedule is so skewed, and food has a lot to do with it," Pinkham says. "I haven't figured it out yet honestly, and I've been doing the show for two years."
Killing off your kin requires a special kind of fuel, and Pinkham has tried his fair share to feed fair Monty.
"The thing that happens is, I can't go out there with too much food in my stomach," he explains. "I'm running around out there the entire time. If I don't have enough in my stomach, I will get lightheaded and lose energy. But if I have too much in my stomach, I'll get indigestion onstage, which can affect your singing."
The California native likes to keep it healthy even while working on such a demanding show. Though he loves a good pasta as much as the next guy, he usually avoids the guilty pleasure when he knows he's going onstage.
Growing up, Pinkham says he was surrounded by some of the finest produce in the Golden State. The self admitted "fruit junkie" is all about the fresh produce: bananas, berries, peaches, plums, apples, whatever happens to be in season near his parent's house in Northern California.
"My mom always makes it a point to stock up the fruit bowl when I'm coming home," he says. "If you put a fruit salad in front of me, I will probably not talk to you for a while."
With the demands of his schedule hardly leaving him enough time to grab a coveted smoothie, he values the importance his family put on meals together. He remembers fresh fruits and usually a fresh garden salad to go along with every meal.
"My parents were pretty good about trying to get the entire family to eat a meal together every night, [even if it] didn't always happen," he says. "I recognize now how much work it must have taken to plan a meal and the effort of getting us all together. The career and the city I’m in sort of limit the ability to plan that far in advance, and to develop a routine. The only routine you have as an actor is when you’re in a show — a lot of the life as an actor is living without a job, which is sporadic, because no job is constant. It's hard, to be honest, to get around the table at the end of the day."
Finding good food to fuel up after a show as grueling as Gentleman's Guide has not always been easy for the Tony nominee. Getting out late from shows, he eats late — which affects his sleep — but he tryies to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle, even in a city with as many options as NYC. Still, it's not something Pinkham tries to get too hung up on — for him it's all about perspective.
"All these things, I'm saying about particularities in my diet, I recognize that those are first world problems," he says. "I do an NGO [nongovernmental organization] that works with at-risk kids in Madagascar, and they're surviving on beans and rice every day, and I mean surviving and not thriving. It's easy for me to complain about not having a healthy option after a Broadway show, [but] there is food, I'm getting a ride home, and I have an apartment with a stove and electricity — it's important to have perspective. At a certain point, I get tired of hearing people say this is not completely organic; it's important to remain grateful for what we do have and not to lose sight of what is in front of us."
The journey from California to the Broadway stages of Manhattan has been a steady climb for Pinkham. After getting his undergraduate degree from Boston College, and his masters from the Yale School of Drama, he moved to New York.
"I worked in restaurants when I first moved here. I worked at 12th St. Bar and Grill — it was a way to get free food," he says. "They had a great menu. I would carry home a burger or a steak or a guilty bowl of pasta on a nightly basis. And all the bread you can eat. When you're first moving to NYC, that can be crucial when you are counting your pennies."
But the smash success of Gentleman’s Guide — and not to mention several other starring roles — have guaranteed you won't see Pinkham waiting tables at your local watering hole. The sensation of the show has certainly contributed to Pinkham being, well, very busy.
"I wish I had time to be a foodie," he jokes. "Certainly on my one night off, food becomes the central focus of that day. My girlfriend and I will find a new spot to go have dinner on a Monday night, one of our sort of favorite places to go, we keep that window open."
Among his new favorites is the recently opened Talde in Brooklyn. They love the pretzel pork dumplings with mustard sauce. ("Sort of like a combination of a ballpark pretzel and a pork dumpling.") For a treat-yourself meal they enjoy Blue Ribbon Sushi for an appetizer-friendly shared meal. He's a huge fan of Dizzy's Diner when he's near the theatre and local Hell's Kitchen haunt Blue Dog.
"I love their tuna tartare," he says. "They serve it with chips and guac, but it's a more fine dining version. Or I'll get smoked salmon. That's a good example of what I'll eat on a show day. But when I'm out of the show, I'll have something a little less healthy…" Like what?
"Oh the pasta," he laughs. "Pasta is a guilty pleasure. I love pasta. By the time I'm done with the second show, I'm ravenous for a meal, which will turn into me ordering a bowl of pasta from a local place. I recently ordered Bolognese; thankfully doing Gentleman's Guide there aren't many things I can't burn out the next day."
As Gentleman's Guide winds to a close, things are different for Pinkham than they were when he first delighted audiences with the exuberance of Monty Navarro, but he admits the challenges are always there. And while one show reaches its close, one thing remains true, Pinkham will continue to be busy.
"It's not easy now — it's just a different kind of hard," he says. "It never gets easier; it's just different."
Broadway Eats highlights the way food connects people, while connecting our readers with the people they love onstage through food.
Kori Frederick is a senior producer for "Chopped" on the Food Network and a freelance contributor to Playbill, with a strong love for food, theatre, words and NYC. She can be reached at [email protected].