If you find yourself sitting in the audience of Laughing Matters thinking, “That guy sure does look familiar…” you’re not wrong. Late last month, actor Gil Brady wrapped up his Mainstage comedy performance as Chris aka Inspector Carter in FST’s sold-out production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Fellow actor William Selby of Laughing Matters had a pre-planned engagement to perform in Forbidden Broadway at North Coast Repertory Theatre in California for part of the scheduled run. So, as soon as he was finished making audiences laugh in FST’s Gompertz Theatre as part of The Play That Goes Wrong, Gil shaved his mustache and hopped “across the hall” to FST’s Court Cabaret to take Selby’s place in Laughing Matters.
Gil is no stranger to FST. He has performed in nine previous productions at Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre including Spamalot, Outside Mullingar, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. We sat down with Gil to talk about his love of drama (as a theatrical genre), funny audience interactions, and how he manages to pull off nine performances a week.
What was it like to transition from The Play That Goes Wrong to Laughing Matters?
I had to put a cap on how many hours I rehearsed for Laughing Matters during the day so that I was still fresh and could give The Play That Goes Wrong what it needed every night. Of course, it was stressful to go directly into another show, but actors so rarely get work immediately after work—especially at a theatre they love—so I couldn’t pass it up.
I was genuinely impressed and relieved I could pull it off! But, it must be said, that could have never happened without the support from Jim Prosser (who helped create the show and is FST’s Resident Pianist) and the cast of Laughing Matters. They saved my butt quite a bit that first week.
Laughing Matters is a musical sketch comedy show that requires you (and your fellow cast members) to be constantly moving, quickly switching between songs and sketches. How do you take care of yourself so that you’re able to do this show nine times a week? Do you have any pre-show rituals to get you in the right headspace?
Yes! The Cabarets at FST are an entirely different beast than the typical play or musical. A vocal warmup and stretching are essential and I like to run through the toughest parts of the show beforehand just to get my brain ready. Plus, I find, you have to schedule at least a little time during the day to rest. Especially vocally. The Cabarets require so much of the human voice (different singing styles, wide ranges of pitch/volume, impressions, silly voices) that it definitely takes its toll. As a cast, the four of us also check in with each other when they call “places” and do a quick circle/breath before we hit the stage. It helps us connect and get centered.
This is not your first time performing in an FST Cabaret. In 2012, you were part of Reel Music. How is performing in a Cabaret different from a Mainstage production at FST?
Reel Music was a really special show, celebrating the songs that provided soundtracks to movies of the last century, with songs like “Moon River,” “Toot-Toot-Tootsie,” “Flashdance,” and more. It was a fantastic concept, a huge hit, and I have so many wonderful memories of that time. But, what a challenge! There was so much jam-packed into that 90 minutes that we had to bring our A-game. The absolute best part of Cabaret is that the audience is much more a part of the show. It’s informal and intimate and the focus is on the performer and their interpretation of the material, particularly since there’s not much of a set.
What is your favorite song or sketch in Laughing Matters to perform and why?
I LOVE doing impressions, so maybe Joe Biden? I am passionate about the message in the song “Trouble,” too—which is about the overdevelopment of Sarasota—despite how tricky the song is to remember all of those lyrics. I’ve also been dying to play Harold Hill in The Music Man for most of my life.
What is something that FST audiences would be surprised to know about you?
I’ve done a lot of comedy at FST, but I absolutely love playing dramatic roles and am very much at home in that genre. I’ve played roles like John Proctor in The Crucible, Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Howie in Rabbit Hole.