Actor Nick Abbott has performed at theatres across the country—as part of the national tour of Motown the Musical, as Johnny Cash in a Colorado production of Ring of Fire, and as Carl Perkins in Million Dollar Quartet (Clarksville, TN). Now, he makes his FST debut with Friends in Low Places, the theatre’s hit contemporary country music revue featuring the songs of Garth Brooks, The Chicks, and George Strait.
We sat down with Nick to talk about his experience with Cabaret as an art form, his favorite songs in the show, and his personal connection to country music.
This is your first time at FST. What have you most enjoyed about performing for Sarasota audiences?
Sarasota audiences are amazing! It’s nice to look out into an audience of people who are just looking to have a good time. What I most enjoy about the audiences is how supportive they are. Seeing so many people singing along to these classic songs and having a great time with us has been so fun. The audience gives us all the energy we need for this show, and it’s been great to have every night!
You’ve been in a variety of musicals, from Million Dollar Quartet to Beauty and the Beast. How have your experiences doing musical theatre helped prepare you to perform on FST’s Goldstein Cabaret stage?
Much like musical theatre, many of the songs in Friends in Low Places are centered around characters and have a plotline, so having training and experience in musical theatre has been so helpful in navigating these great songs.
Do you have a personal connection to the music, or a specific song, featured in the show?
Listening to “Cowboy Take Me Away” every night – a song which my cast mate Hannah Taylor absolutely nails every night – takes me back to riding in the car with my mom with the windows down in Indiana. I loved The Chicks growing up and that song is just one example of the sentimentality that I have for some of the songs in Friends in Low Places.
In college you took a Cabaret class with Broadway star Sutton Foster, which culminated in a performance at Joe’s Pub called Let Yourself Go: An Evening with Irving Berlin. What did you learn from this class? What did you take away from the workshop that you brought into performances of Friends in Low Places?
Sutton Foster was one of my professors, and even directed me in several shows. This particular class was invaluable for preparing me for Friends in Low Places because it taught us how to create an evening of Cabaret. We chose Irving Berlin as our composer and each week she’d give us an assignment like mashing songs up, changing the intention of a song, or turning it into a duet. Through this process, we built a Cabaret, which ended up becoming Let Yourself Go. It was an incredible experience.
I noticed that you played Johnny Cash in a Colorado production of Ring of Fire. Based on your experience playing Cash, why do you think country music is so enduring?
I have a line in Friends in Low Places where I say, “Country music is truly a music of the people…regular people. It’s music for everyone.” Johnny Cash was someone who understood that and was an incredible storyteller.
This music reflects life, tells engaging stories, and pulls at your heartstrings. Out human need for that kind of shared experience isn’t going anywhere, and therefore, country music isn’t going anywhere.