Photos: Go Behind the Scenes of Off-Broadway's Corruption With Star (and Resident Shutterbug) John Behlmann | Playbill

Photo Features Photos: Go Behind the Scenes of Off-Broadway's Corruption With Star (and Resident Shutterbug) John Behlmann

The actor and self-taught photographer almost always has his camera with him.

Tech rehearsal for Corruption John Behlmann

For the past seven years, John Behlmann has been approaching theatre from a whole new angle—through the lens of his camera. Since starring in Significant Other in 2017, the actor has captured close-ups and inside glimpses on stage and backstage that hired photographers might not typically be in the room for. And though Behlmann's immense talent rings clear on his photography page, his outlook remains humble: "I'm a little sheepish about the whole thing, to be honest. There's so many people that do so many wonderful things in this town, so much better than I could ever do them," he says.

Although Behlmann confesses to experiencing a bit of "imposter syndrome," he also knows that he has a superpower in being the actor with the camera. "I'm not taking production photos, but I get the benefit of a lot of that beautiful theatrical lighting, and the setting of the endless hours being in tech rehearsals and preview rehearsals and backstage when everyone else has gone home, and it's just the actors and the crew around," he explains. "There's moments that you wouldn't get access to as a photographer hired for the day." 

Currently starring in Corruption at Lincoln Center Theater, Behlmann has taken his camera onstage during rehearsals for the new play by J.T. Rogers about a 2011 phone-hacking scandal in the British news media.

Behlmann confesses that a major draw for the project was the opportunity tackle something entirely new, and to form new collaborations. "I've never worked with Bart, I've never worked with J.T., and I've never worked with any of the actors, which is odd, at this point in my career, to have no one in the room that I've done a show with before in some capacity," he says.

He's been sure to capture the moment on camera, with a new collection of photos from Corruption that Behlmann is excited to share with Playbill. Check out the gallery below to see Behlmann's skillful snaps, offering onstage close-ups and more.

While Behlmann and his camera are somewhat of a package deal now, the actor recalls only really starting to dive into photography during his run in Tootsie on Broadway, starring alongside Santino Fontana. "It started out sneaky at first, but because it was a long run, I got a lot of chances to take photos as people started to realize that [my camera] was just in my hands all the time," he says. Following Tootsie, Behlmann created an Instagram account in 2020 dedicated to his photos, and began to upload snaps from the shows over the years, with pictures of Julie Halston backstage at Tootsie, and co-stars Lindsay Mendez, Luke Smith, and Sas Goldberg backstage at Significant Other.

"You have to develop some sense of trust that you won't take a horrible picture of someone and then put it on the internet. I think that's what helps, is that I have a longstanding rapport with the people that I'm shooting, because I've been working with them every day," he says.

Behlmann's camera became a welcome participant throughout the Broadway bow of Shucked (in which Behlmann played the big-city doctor Gordy), with countless shots taken from rehearsal room to The Thanksgiving Day Parade—one of his favorite images captured. "There's a great shot of Alex Newell on the morning of the parade on an empty 34th Street," he shares. His other favorite photos from the Shucked days reveal hidden secrets of the production that didn't make the final cut. "There's a photo of Andrew [Durand] standing as a scarecrow—that got cut." 

With both his skillful eye and his intuition for capturing organic moments amongst castmates, Behlmann's photos certainly stand out amongst the crowd.

"I'm so thrilled to have [these photos] acknowledged at all," he says. "It's just something I do for fun and for the people in the show, so to have anyone appreciate them is a blessing for me."

Corruption runs at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater through April 14. 

Photos: Behind the Scenes of Corruption at Lincoln Center Theater

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