Catching Up with Beetlejuice’s David Josesfsberg

David Josefsberg as Adam Maitland in Beetlejuice

 

by Melissa Griegel

 

Theater Pizzazz had an opportunity to speak with veteran Broadway actor David Josefsberg. His career spans ten Broadway shows, in addition to regional work. Most recently, David was seen playing the role of Adam Maitland in Beetlejuice at the Winter Garden Theatre.

 

Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, Scott porter, Tyler Maynard, David Josefsberg

 

MG: Hi David! You have come a long way since we were in High School productions together. My mom always said that you were very talented. When did you know you wanted to do this for a living?

DJ: Hi there. Well, first of all thanks to your mom. I guess I would say it was sort of a gradual thing. I got a lot of attention for my singing when I was very young, and people told me I was good. Then for my Bar Mitzvah my theme was “David on Broadway!” I thought I would either be the second baseman for the Mets, or try my luck on Broadway. 50% ain’t too bad, right? Ha. So about that time I guess I also spent half of my day at a theater high school which solidified what I wanted to do with my life.

 

MG: Tell me a little about your experience at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. What did you study?

DJ: I absolutely loved being at Tisch. Although I missed campus life and sports, which I really would have loved (I’m hoping my sons give me that…ha), being in the city for four years really gave me a nice head start. For my first two years, I studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. It was about eight hours a day three days a week in addition to regular classes. I learned quite a bit there, but my love for singing took me to what was called Musical Theater Works (Cap21) for my last 2 years.

 

MG: Who was most inspirational to you at school? Did you study with any stars that are now in Broadway productions?

I guess there were a lot of inspirational people at NYU, but I will say the one that helped me the most was Frank Ventura. He was the head of MTW and would bring in leaders in musical theater for master classes. One class, Martin Charnin came and plucked me out of school for one of his shows. It was called Winchell and I got my equity card on it. Also, Frank let the rehearsal process of that show count for my grades during my senior year. Pretty cool…even though the show didn’t get to Broadway! Lastly, tons of stars went to NYU but I did do a few shows with Broadway’s Raul Esparza and had a doo wop group with Jesse L Martin!

Liz and David as Cosette and Marius (Les Miserables)

MG: You have a long history with the show Les Misérables. How old were you when you started? Can you talk about your trajectory with the show?

DJ: Les Miz was my first big show. I started on tour when I was 24 and spent almost two years touring the country with it. It was absolutely incredible. I covered Marius (a dream of mine) and went in and out of the show for years until it ended. I made so many lifelong friends. I actually met my wife on the show. She was a Cosette understudy and I was a Marius understudy and the rest is history. She has since left show business and is an amazing wellness coach. She helped people like Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Simpson and Charles Barkley lose weight and then developed her own program and wrote a book called Target100 (shameless plug). She’s the best. Now I can continue pursuing my hobby!

Anyhoo, one other funny story about Les Miz was when I was waiting tables in NYC in between jobs. Les Miz had a day where many of the men were out and they called me to fill in. Unfortunately, I was waiting tables literally around the corner so I didn’t know what to do. They begged me to come so I closed my checks, did the show, came back between shows to finish my shift, and then did the night show. I actually waited on people who just saw me in the show!

 

MG: Ha! That is awesome. You covered the 4 male leads in The Prom. How did you keep all the lines and staging in your head? Which role did you enjoy playing the most?

DJ: Okay, so The Prom! I will say that I was always semi-stressed out during that time. I really, really loved the show, the people, the message, but covering FOUR LEADS!? That was a lot! I have two dogs and so every day while walking them I’d be running one character or another. Even though I didn’t have to do the show every night, the stress that I might have to, always kept me on my toes.

I would say I loved playing Mr. Hawkins the most. He had a beautiful song, some nice character work, and I loved working with Beth Leavel! It was my second time working with her. I got to play Adolpho to her Drowsy. Lucky me! Also, I enjoyed playing Barry in rehearsal and making people laugh.

MG: Your Broadway career spans 10 Broadway shows, several off-Broadway shows, and regional theater. What are some of your favorite roles? Are there certain actors/directors/choreographers you enjoyed working with or learned a lot from?

DJ: My favorite roles: Les Misérables (Marius), Altar Boyz (Abe), Honeymoon in Vegas (Buddy Rocky/Roy Bacon), Waitress (Ogie), The Producers at Papermill (Leo Bloom), Lend me a Tenor (Max) and , of course, Beetlejuice (Adam Maitland).

There are so many actors, directors and choreographers that I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll say the first 5 that come to my head: John Rando, Casey Nicolaw, Alex Timbers, Stafford Arima, Chris Gatelli…Oh, uh, already too many. David Hyde Pierce, Jason Robert Brown, Don Stephenson, Joe Mantello. so many more! Tyne Daly…okay, I’ll stop!

 

MG: Do you have a dream role you would love to play?

DJ: I mean, I feel like I’ve already had so many! I feel so grateful.

 

MG: Had you seen Beetlejuice before landing the role of Adam Maitland? What advice did Rob McClure give you before stepping into the part?

DJ: I actually didn’t get the chance to see him before I auditioned, but we did speak a lot. He just said “You’re perfect, do you!!!” So I found a bootleg and copied him. Just kidding! He just gave me some thoughts on the character and really said to bring the heart and just be me. He is the greatest guy and I thank him profusely.

 

MG: Talk to me about Beetlejuice. How has the experience been for you? What was it like being part of the Macy’s Day Parade? Is there any news yet on a potential move to a new theater?

DJ: Beetlejuice has been one of the best experiences of my life. The cast, crew and everyone involved, producers, dressers..EVERYBODY has been exceptional. Fun, hard-working, loving and just great to be around. I didn’t realize how great the show was while I was in The Prom. But it is that good. Funny, biting, heart-warming; it has it all. And the fans — the best I have ever seen. The Macy’s Day Parade was super fun and I am hoping that Broadway comes back and we find a new home!

 

MG: How do you balance doing eight shows a week with keeping up with your family activities such as your sons’ sporting events?

DJ: Well, it is the biggest sadness that comes with the job. I love my kids so much and love sports, well — almost as much. Missing baseball and soccer games has been terrible. That being said, I go as often as I can and play sports with them whenever they let me. Ha! It can be hard getting up at seven on the weekend to see games, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I mean, except when I do: I can’t get up every time!

Cooper, David, Liz, Benji Josefsberg

MG: Do your kids have any interest in theater? Do you think either of them will follow you into a Broadway career?

DJ: They both can sing very well but I am not sure either one has interest in it. Right now, one wants to be a Fortnite player and one wants to be a CSI. Although, you can catch Benji singing with me on my Tiktok or Instagram pretty often. He’s good. Davidsjosefsberg (Insta and Tiktok) I know, I’m a teenager!

 

MG: Yeah, my youngest daughter was the one that got me on Insta and Tiktok. She loves making Tiktok videos. Congratulations on becoming a certified health coach from the Health Coach Institute. Was your wife Liz an inspiration behind doing that? What are your plans for using this new certification? Will you be doing it in-between productions, at the same time, or is this a future career? Will you be working with Liz?

DJ: All good questions…and I will say yes to all of them. Not really sure yet. I really enjoy it, and think it could have a place in my career. I could definitely see it being something to do between jobs, or even while working.

 

MG: How has this quarantine been for you? What Broadway-related stuff have you done (such as Stars in the House with Seth Rudestky and James Wesley)? How are you keeping up with your singing and dancing chops? 

DJ: Well, being an actor I am used to being out of work sometimes so that is okay. Getting to spend more time with the family, because I’ve been working a lot lately, has been amazing. This pandemic though, is HORRIBLE. We can’t see our parents, and I miss my job, but am grateful for everything we have. I have been doing things like the Seth thing, doing zoom things with castmates, singing and making Tiktoks and Instagram videos almost daily, doing some readings of new shows…keeping busy.

 

MG: Yes, as horrible as this is, the best part is the extra time with immediate family. What family stuff have you gotten to do, now that you are on hiatus due to COVID-19?

DJ: So many things. Singing, baseball, basketball, walks, cornhole, cooking, making videos, watching all the Marvel movies, Monopoly, cooking videos for Lizzie with the Vitamin Shoppe, meditating, working out, soccer, watching the Michael Jordan Documentary, playing poker. Sounds fun, right?

Jim Parsons, David Josefsberg, Sean Hayes

MG: Do you have any thoughts on the outlook of Broadway and recovering from the shutdown?

DJ: Well, I am hopeful that we come back strong and that Beetlejuice continues the run it deserves. I have no idea how long this will take, and what changes will have to be implemented, but I believe that we are resilient and we will be back!!

 

MG: What is the first thing you want to do when the quarantine is lifted?

DJ: See my folks, have a party, and perform in Beetlejuice!

 

MG: Thanks for the chat. Anything else you would like to add?

DJ: Should we do a revival of The Miracle Worker? That was the show we were in, right?

 

MG: Ha! Yes. I was Helen Keller and you were my dad! These days, I prefer being behind the camera. It was nice catching up with you. Looking forward to seeing you on Broadway again.

 

griegelphoto@optonline.net

 

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