‘Once’ Star Steve Kazee: “I’ve had some ups and down on Broadway, and I had sort of sworn it off”

Steve-kazee-onceAfter an acclaimed run at the New York Theater Workshop, the musical Once has moved to Broadway.  Coming with it is star Steve Kazee, an actor who previously thought he had done his last Broadway show.  But as he tells the Huffington Post, when it comes to acting sometimes the last place you’d expect to be is where you eventually end up.

Kazee made a decision to move his career away from Broadway in 2007 after having trouble finding success and moved to Los Angeles. 

He explains, “I’ve had some ups and down on Broadway, and I had sort of sworn it off and moved to L.A. and said I was sort of done with this side of the business for a little while. It just wasn’t for me.  It was very frustrating. I was like, ‘Why am I slaving in New York?’ I’ll just go to L.A. At least I know my place out there. At least I’m just one of a thousand faces out there.”

But less than five years later Kazee found himself back on Broadway, starring in the lead male role in Once.  It wasn’t something he  planned for, and he says, “It’s hard to believe it’s actually happening. I question reality quite a bit.”  Nonetheless, he was cautious — he explains that even though he adored the script for Once, he was worried he wouldn’t live up to its potential.  He says, “It’s that weird thing of really loving something so much and not wanting to be a part of destroying it in some way.”

What attracted Kazee to the show is that it isn’t a typical Broadway musical — for one thing, the music is played by the actors on stage and not by a traditional orchestra.  He points out, “It wasn’t slick and it wasn’t Broadway. It was finding reality in small movements. I immediately felt like I was part of something different.  I knew it wasn’t going to be this commercial piece of junk.”

So although Kazee left on a self-imposed exile from Broadway, how does he ultimately feel about his return to the Great White Way?  He admits, “I love New York and I love Broadway. I get very disheartened to see where it goes sometimes.  You want it to hold itself to a higher standard. Frankly, I don’t think it does sometimes. I think it sometimes lives up to pandering and taking the easiest route to make the most money.”

Once is now playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

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