Paul Pecorino is no stranger to transforming himself for his art and no doubt Ruthless! The Musical is all the better for it.
BroadwaySelect met with Paul Pecorino a few hours before curtain at St. Luke’s Theatre, Off-Broadway for an exclusive interview:
What was the first moment that you knew that you wanted to be a performer?
Paul: That’s pretty easy: My family is pretty old school Italian meaning that my mother is now 92 so it’s pretty old world. Old School Italian. And Every Sunday They always watched the movie Musical that was on Television so I was pretty Much Raised on watching Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and all those movies like ‘Singing in the Rain’ ‘An American in Paris’ and things like that. Charlie Chaplin was my real favorite, for show and tell in kindergarten I used to perform Charlie Chaplin. So with that, right away I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. My parents instilled that in me.
What has your experience been like performing for Ruthless! ?
Paul: When I got the phone call to come and audition, this show was not in my wheelhouse at all. I remember I was in college in ‘92 when the show first came out and I remember hearing about it; people loved it but it wasn’t until I got the phone call from the Producer to come and audition that I thought “what is this role”? I started listening to it and then I thought “This is something I could do- This is a really fun show it seems like a fun part.” It is a lot of fun to play. I do enjoy being Sylvia. I mean getting into the character can be taxing at times but once it’s all on and the curtain comes up then I’m ready to go.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process that you go through becoming Sylvia?
Paul: Well before I come to the theatre I have my vocal warm up because she does sing a lot throughout the show and I use a different register to my normal voice so it’s really important for me to warm up vocally. Then I get here two hours before curtain to meet the makeup artist and I start with her so- today we have a 7 o’clock show so I have to be here at 5. So she starts with me first and she generally finishes with me by about 5 45/ 6 o’clock. Then I get my boobs on and my heels and my tights and my nails- which I have to press my nails on every performance. Then 6 15 we have sound check and then at half hour that’s when they put me into my dress and then the wig. So generally I like to be ready 15 minutes before curtain because I like to be ready I like to know that she is there. So it’s a process. It’s a two hour process to make it all happen and then it takes 10 minutes to get it all off- I’m out of here in 10 minutes.
Tell us a little about who she is as a character?
Paul: She is a woman of mystery but you have to come see the how to figure out the mystery. She develops talent, particularly with children, she plans their career. She spots someone who she thinks is amazing and takes them under her wing and puts them on the road to success. She has seen Tina Denmark performing at an old folks home and she decides this is someone she wants to develop. She puts Tina through her education process in becoming a star- there are other things involved but that is the mystery of Sylvia St. Croix.
What is it about her as a character that makes you feel connected to her?
Paul: I really love to transform myself. That’s always been excited for me and a lot of the characters I do play I do get to completely transform. I find that a lot of the characters like the boy next door can sometimes be a little boring to me so I enjoy when I get to become someone else completely- you know my physicality, how I look, how I walk and speak. So that’s what really drew me to her and you know she’s pretty big, she’s flamboyant and larger than life and I like that.
Why do you think audiences should go and see Ruthless! ?
Paul: I think it’s tried and true- it was a huge hit when it first came out and this revival has been doing extremely well we have been running since July. We’ve been extended two or three times, I think that says a lot too. It’s funny, it’s a show where you can just come and have a good time and I think that’s important- particularly how things are in our country right now. I think this show is harmless it’s fun, the music is great there are great characters in it, you know. I think it’s one of those shows where you can just come and have a good time and laugh. I think that is important.
For more information on Ruthless! The Musical visit: http://www.ruthlessthemusical.com/