The Role That Got Away: Will Chase on Returning to ‘Something Rotten!’

Actor Will Chase in Broadway's 'Something Rotten'

“I know that I am a poor man’s fill-in-the-blank. And I know that there are poor man’s Will Chases out there. That’s just the nature of the business.” – Will Chase

Almost any actor will tell you about “the one that got away.” In their case, it’s usually not a person — it’s a role they really, really wanted but had to turn down for whatever reason. In the case of Nashville star Will Chase, he has had the opportunity to get back to the role that got away. Last month he joined Broadway’s Something Rotten! to play an over-the-top version of William Shakespeare — a role that, as he tells the Associated Press, he had to pass on several years ago.

Chase appeared as Shakespeare in workshops of Something Rotten!, but he had to pull out of the show in order to do Nashville. As it turns out, Christian Borle — Chase’s former Smash co-star — not only took the role, but he also won a Tony for it. However, don’t ask Chase to curse his luck. He says, “Ten years ago, I might be bitter and jaded about it. But no. It’s truly a treat to see how far it’s come and to have been a part of those early things.”

Of course, it happens both ways — Chase was nominated for a Tony in 2013 for his performance in the revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which was a role he wasn’t originally slated for. He says, “I’ve been given roles that people have turned down. I won’t say who turned down the role that I got my Tony nomination for, but somebody turned down that role. They weren’t like, ‘Get Will Chase in here now! He’s going to win a Tony nomination for this!’ So I know that I am a poor man’s fill-in-the-blank. And I know that there are poor man’s Will Chases out there. That’s just the nature of the business.”

Chase has a long history of appearing in musicals — mainly comedies — on Broadway dating back to the late 1990s. Even with all that experience, he admits it’s still challenging. He says, “Comedy is terrifying. Comedy is a terrifying prospect. But when it happens, it’s like a drug. And I’m enjoying taking that drug.”

But despite the “terrifying” aspect, he has been in love with acting since a friend convinced him to act in a summer stock production while he was in college for music. He recalls, “I fell in love with it. I was like, ‘OK, I’m cutting my ponytail.’ The day I graduated, I got my diploma, I moved to Chicago and started acting.”

As a result, Chase gets to return to doing what he loves — even if he had to pass this specific role up once before.

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