Somebody up there must be watching – or at least like the idea of having an actor with a background playing dual roles successfully on Broadway. There’s only one person who’s a candidate – Robert Cuccioli – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde himself!
It’s 13 years since Bob Cuccioli created the roles for which he won a Tony Nomination, taking with him the song that has been a long time stepping stone “This Is The Moment.”
And now, for the second time in his career, he returns to Broadway to take on the roles of Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin in the 65 million dollar extravaganza “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” A lot has happened in between – Cuccioli has done lots of Shakespeare, numerous roles off Broadway and regionally in musicals and plays (Jacques Brel is Alive and Well, Lago, Man of La Mancha), concerts, revues, and shown himself as a fine director. This is also the year of the release of his first CD “The Look of Love.”
Cuccioli brings a refreshing change to this role created by predecessor Patrick Page, less austere with a lightness, a twinkle, a secret and a chuckle. But let’s hear what he has to say about it all.
SD: You’ve had a very interesting career away from Broadway for a number of years. How does it feel being back?
RC: It’s great. I’ve missed it but it’s been a productive 13 years away working in the regionals a lot, expanding my craft. I’ve worked hard on my craft – acting, singing, started directing. I’ve gotten into a lot of different things, exciting and rewarding. But I’ve been itching to come back to Broadway and couldn’t have picked a better show to do it with.
SD: You’ve done a lot of Shakespeare in your career. Do you have a favorite role?
RC: That’s hard to choose. Last year I did Lago and that’s definitely one of my favorites. I’d love to do them all again.
SD: If you could choose any role in any genre, what might that be?
RC: That’s a difficult question. Any of the classics, they’re the meatiest roles. My dream as an actor, because you really have to work at them to fill shoes. I’d love to do any of the classics. As far as musicals, I don’t know if it’s been written yet. I like to create new roles. I’d look for that opportunity again.
SD: Do people know you have a great sense of humor and can really be funny when you want to be?
RC: Ha, ha. If people come see Spiderman hopefully they’ll get that. That’s one reason I wanted to do this role. It allowed me to break out of that mold that New York knows me in. They know me as a serious performer, and I am. But I do love comedy, love to laugh and make people laugh. I enjoy myself. New York doesn’t see me in that light and now they’ll get a chance to do that. So come see Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and you will laugh.
SD: And I did. There’s somewhat of a difference between you and your predecessor – a little twinkle, a sparkle, an “I’ve got a secret” ha ha. What’s the sensibility that you feel you’re bringing to this role?
RC: I don’t think Norman Osborn or the Green Goblin think they’re funny. It’s how I use the situation to make the humor. Especially the Goblin, he’s very serious. He’s an intense fellow. But he’s in situations sometimes, whether it be stuck on a phone with an answering machine, that kind of stuff is a humorous situation and it’s how I play with it that helps to make it funny.
SD: In the midst of having all this fun on stage, you recently released your first CD “The Look of Love.” It’s quite a project.
RC: Thank you. It’s been a year and added a couple more gray hairs to my head but it was a worthwhile project; something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years. Not necessarily this specific CD, but I wanted to do an album for many years. It takes a lot of time, money and focus, none of which I had. I’m always running out of town and wasn’t able to focus on doing an album. So I made sure I had the time this past year even though I was out of town a lot. I came back on my days off and was very dedicated to getting it done. Took a year from raising capital to actually recording and getting it released. Almost a year to the day! It’s all standards which is a genre of music that I recently re-fell in love with. It took a while to decide what I wanted my first album to be about; I didn’t want it to be show music, even though I love that and it’s what people know me for. I wanted to surprise everyone so I rediscovered the standards and that’s what I chose my first album to be about. I’m very proud of it.
SD: And your voice lends so beautifully to that music. If you were thinking about a second project, what might that be?
RC: I want to recover from this one first. But I’ve been toying around with that and haven’t come up with a solid idea as yet.
SD: Do you have some words of wisdom for the many young theatre wannabes – what might you say to them?
RC: Kids find me and ask me that a lot – through email, Facebook. And I love to respond to them and help guide young talent. I think young people coming into the business should not ignore the rest of life. You need to learn as much as you can about everything in order to be an actor. The more well-rounded, the better the actor you will be. I think that’s very important. If it’s in your heart and you feel there’s nothing else you want to do, then you should do it – with all your passion and your heart. There’s no telling when that break will come. It’s happened for me. I’ve had many lean years when I wanted to give up. Then you get a call: “you want to do Spiderman?” So you need to keep your passion alive.
SD: You’re doing a great job. Keep “flying.”
RD: Thanks so much.
(video: Magda Katz)