I had a chance to sit down with John Arthur Greene, currently on Broadway as Theo in School of Rock the Musical. We discussed his former and current shows, as well as what it was like to be a contestant on American Idol.
Joy: What was your first exposure to Broadway, and how did that influence you?
John: First shows were Les Miserables and Phantom Of The Opera. I’ve seen Les Mis 13 times and Phantom 14 times and that was over [a period of] 28 years but those shows really allowed me to understand what music was and how beautifully it could touch and impact somebody’s soul.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you do? What are they?
I always warm up. At least a half hour before, I start my warm‑up. With Matilda, my warm‑up was an hour before. With West Side Story, my warm‑up was an hour and a half before.
Well, you had a really big part.
Yes. I had to dance and get my body and spirit ready. So it’s just a constant upkeep.
You were on American Idol’s last season?
What was it like to audition for that?
Well, one of the executive producers knew my guitarist and asked me to audition.
What’s more nerve‑wracking? Auditioning for American Idol or a Broadway show?
I think they are one and the same. Although in a Broadway show you can hide behind a character, so that’s fun and that’s not as exposing. American Idol– you are representing yourself. You know, you got to be honest about who you are because the world is going to see. So I think it’s weighed and balanced differently. They are both terrifying because you are being judged. So you got to walk in, leave your emotions at the door and say; you know, if this is meant to be, it’s meant to be. If not, I am [still] going to show up and put my best foot forward. Because this is what I love to do.
Have you always wanted to do Broadway? If not, what did you want to do instead?
I wanted to be a baseball player.
You played it a lot when you were little?
I played a lot of ball. Yes. I was an All‑Star center fielder. I was a big baseball player, and when I was 14 I had to make a decision between playing the Leading Player [in Pippin] or going into a Triple A [baseball] team in North Carolina. I [chose] the Leading Player. I guess I had magic to do. (I can’t believe I actually said that)
Did you see the last revival on Broadway?
I did. I loved it. It was really beautiful.
You were part of the original cast of Matilda on Broadway. What was it like to originate the role of The Doctor?
Originating the role of The Doctor was fun. I originated it on Broadway [not West End]. So technically I did not originate…. Still waiting for that!
On Broadway, right.
And the revival of West Side Story I was part of the original cast, but then I took over for Riff because I was a standby.
God, that was eight years ago. But it’s amazing. It’s amazing to be able to start a show and be the original cast. I am really itching to do a show that has never ever been done before and then nobody has any preconceived notions allowing me to really create a character from the ground up.
How did you keep a straight face with Lesli Margherita when she goes “I am going to have a baby!”
She is a very funny lady, and I love her dearly. But, we are acting so we have got to keep a straight face, on a side note there are definitely times where we have all either fibbed a line or something has gone wrong on stage that we had to turn and try to keep a straight face, but you pick up, move on and keep on going.
What is your dream role?
It hasn’t been written yet. But right now one that I have been dying to play is Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar.
So write the role for yourself. Write the music.
Yes. That’s what I am trying to do. I have three shows that I am writing. I have three shows that are coming out. One in January and then later 2017 and 2018.
You were also in Peter Pan Live as a pirate.