THE SEX FILES: Interview with Jeff Takacs of off-Broadway’s Nutcracker Rouge

Photo by Phillip Van Nostrand

Photo by Phillip Van Nostrand

So, I saw this great show at the Mineta Lane last week (see my review here) and knowing it might be fun to talk to one of the stars of that show, I traveled far and wide, as I always do for you my wonderful readers, to get an interview with Jeff Takacs, who plays one of the MC’s,“Monsieur Drosselmeyer” in Company XIV’s production of Nutcracker Rouge. I figured a first-hand accounting of the back and side of stage craziness of this very sexy show would make for a perfect interview here. I think you’ll agree, Jeff’s a pretty special guy, with a special perspective of his work, life and a fantastic show.

As I watched you make entrances and exits, one of the first thoughts that came to my mind was, How does he negotiate all those different heels?

I love those heels – particularly the thigh-high 5-inchers. But as everybody knows, love doesn’t always feel good. I negotiate them the way I negotiate life: one foot in front of the other, with a quip on my hip in case of a slip.

Following from this, I was also thinking about swift changes into what seemed pretty complicated costumes (I’m thinking specifically of the ‘licorice boy’ bondage getup). Is there a dresser backstage or are you guys simply coming off, peeling off one thing, wiggling into another, always keeping a basic G-string on?

There are a couple of dressers backstage and yes, the G-string is always on. The costume changes are about as technically choreographed as the rest of the show. A fun part of Company XIV’s aesthetic though, is that many costume changes happen onstage in full view. There’s no fourth wall with Company XIV. Indeed, there’s often no back or side walls either!

Is one ‘aware’ that one is naked (or pretty much close to it) on stage or too ‘in’ character to notice a chill? Or in fact, does feeling exposed simply push you along for this kind of a show?

This goes all the way back: exposure or nakedness, onstage and off, is charged with the potential of a sleight-of-hand. Who has the power: the exposed performer or the costumed observer? As for chill, one does not notice it because the lights are hot and the muscles are working.

I was also thinking about blocking, those entrances and exists…there really is lots going on. Are you at all concerned-seeing as you are one of the characters to keep the action moving, telling the story -that someone will miss a mark, that something coming down from overhead might hit somebody, etc? I know this is all what being pro actors and actresses is about, but still, there seems lots more happening in this production then others.

To date, I don’t know of any significant injuries or horrible technical miscues with Company XIV. The designers – Zane and Jeanette – and the crew led by Nataliya Vasilyeva, are indeed pros. Plus, once that fourth wall is destroyed, everything can be part of the show. So no, I’m not worried, but I’m careful.

How was it working on a Coen Brothers film?

Working on the film was great. I play an Irish folk singer – which means my musical director was T Bone Burnett, who has been a musical hero of mine for many years. The film – Inside Llewyn Davis – just opened.

Let’s talk about your writing? What’s doing presently with your fiction/essays? What’s coming up in the near future for you in that regard?

I’m set to film a series of original, ultra-short comic pieces in Los Angeles once Nutcracker closes. In the meantime, I’m shopping a screenplay and heating my room with burning rejection letters for my fiction. Know any literary agents? Introduce me!

Working on something as seemingly challenging as this, with circus performers, ballet, a send-up of a Madonna tune and turning the Nutcracker on its head, at the end of this run will you be wanting a ‘quieter’ production or are shows like this ( know you have worked with Company XIV before) more to your liking?

It’s like the parable of the sower: you throw your seeds and see what springs. Maybe it’ll be quiet, maybe it’ll be loud. If I had a choice, I’d choose both.

Where might folks find you, beyond this show?

I mostly triangulate between my desk with its dictionaries and pens, an outside bench with a cup of coffee, and a pub.

Company XIV’s production of Nutcracker Rouge runs until January 5, 2014 in a limited 6-week engagement. Get tickets here.

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