Broadway’s ‘Chaplin’, Rob McClure: “I really enjoy being onstage, and I believe audiences sense that, and it makes them comfortable”

It would have been easy for the producers behind Chaplin, a new Broadway musical based on the life of the famed early film icon, to find a Hollywood star to cast in the lead.  But going that route would have made it unlikely to equal the performance of Rob McClure, who initially received rave reviews portraying the man behind the Little Tramp during the musical’s run at California’s  La Jolla Playhouse.  In an interview with his hometown NorthJersey.com, McClure talks about how dedicated he is to the role and how closely he studied Chaplin to prepare for his first lead Broadway role.

McClure explains that he has to bring a lot to the role in order to make it “click” for the audience.  He says, “I think what I bring is a sense of having fun – I really enjoy being onstage, and I believe audiences sense that, and it makes them comfortable.  I want them to feel, ‘We will choose to believe for the next couple of hours that you’re Charlie Chaplin.’  And I’m willing to take risks; when a director suggests something, I won’t say no. Warren [Carlyle, director of Chaplin] asked me if I thought I could learn to play the violin if they set up lessons. If he has confidence in me, then I think I can do it.”

For instance, while McClure admits it isn’t enough just to imitate Chaplin — he says “Doing the ‘tramp shuffle’ isn’t enough, though.  Reenacting what people can see on film would be silly; I have to bring something to the table” — he had to make sure to study the beloved comedian’s routines.  He reveals, “I went back to watch his films again.  That little kicking out of the shoulder or knee that he did happens when he’s been disappointed. He’s shaking it off.”  Once he had the movements down he was able to do more with the role, pointing out, “I had to become comfortable, fluent in Chaplin, before I could improvise in Chaplin.”

That lead to McClure coming up with Chaplin-ish routines of his own, one of which he had to utilize for his final audition.  He says, “I had six callbacks, and for the last one I had to do a two-minute Chaplin-style routine.  I brought a fly swatter, played [a recording of] ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and lost a battle with the bee.”  Hmm… definitely sounds like something Chaplin would’ve done if he had thought of it first!

Chaplin is now in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.  It opens September 10.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/daniel-craig-spectre.jpg
Daniel Craig on Being “Typecast” as James Bond: “I mean, talk about a high-class problem”
"It’s not the job of an actor to judge your character" - Daniel Craig
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/jake-johnson-digging-for-fire.jpg
Jake Johnson on ‘Digging for Fire,’ Improv, and Producing His Plays in New York
"I thought my path was going to be as a writer, but I'm pretty happy doing it as an actor." - Jake Johnson
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/margot-robbie-z-for-Zachariah.jpg
Margot Robbie: “Ironically, you have to do the bigger films in order to make a small film”
"When I first tried to do Z for Zachariah, I couldn’t attach enough value to my name" - Margot Robbie
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/jesse-eisenberg-american-ultra.jpg
Jesse Eisenberg on Starring in Action Movies, Kristen Stewart, and How Playing Lex Luthor Felt Like an Off-Broadway Play
"The old cliché in theater is, if you’re nervous, pick up a prop, which will immediately take you outside of your mind." - Jesse Eisenberg
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Ian-McKellen-Mr-Holmes.jpg
Ian McKellen on CGI, the One Character He Wants to Play and Why He Doesn’t Like Being Called “Sir”
"Each part will have its challenges and I like that because if you're trying to solve a problem you're fully engaged" - Ian McKellen