Claybourne Elder is another one of our next generation actors who's on the rise! He's thrilled to be making his Broadway debut in "Bonnie & Clyde" as "Buck Barrow," after originating the role in La Jolla Playhouse and Asolo Rep. Claybourne's other theatrical credits include rave reviews in Moises Kaufman's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "One Arm," at Tectonic Project/New Group and Stephen Sondheim's "Road Show" at the Public Theatre where Claybourne originated the role of "Hollis." Regionally, Claybourne starred in the US premiere of Matlby and Shire's "Take Flight" as "Charles Lindbergh" at McCarter and as "Wolf/Cinderella's Prince" in Moises Kaufman's revival of "Into The Woods" at Kansas City Rep.
You can currently catch Claybourne in "Bonnie & Clyde" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in NYC (236 West 45th Street). In the role of "Buck," Claybourne brings much heart and sexiness to the show as well as a terrific singing voice! Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Well, I played the violin my whole childhood until a teacher told me that my hands were too big to really be a great violinist. I was pretty heartbroken but that was the year I did my first play.
2. Who is the one or more than one person that you have not worked with that you would like to? There are so many! Walter Bobby definitely, Neil Patrick Harris, Moises Kaufman (I've already worked with him but I always want to work with him again).
3. What attracted you to "Bonnie & Clyde" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I think the best thing we can hope for as performers is that someone is changed in some way by our show. I was attracted to Bonnie and Clyde, and my character "Buck" because I felt like his story has such an amazing arch. It asks the question: What makes a seemingly moral person do bad things?
4. What is it about your character "Buck" that you identify most with? Buck always follows his heart and wants to do what is right to take care of the people he loves. I'm not sure I always want to do what's right, haha, but I really identify with his need to care for people. I think he would have been a great father.
5. What does it mean to you to be making your Broadway debut in "Bonnie & Clyde"? It's amazing. I try to stop and take inventory on this experience as much as possible because it is the fruition of years and years of work. Opening night was an amazing celebration. My whole family came out, it was a great way to say thank you to them for all the voice lessons and driving me to play practice :)
6. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? Previews are by far the best part of rehearsals for me. I love getting response for the audience in the evening and then coming in to rehearse during the day based on their reaction. I also feel like its the best time for the audience to experience the show for themselves before anyone else has told them how to feel about it. When I was working on "One Arm" we did A LOT of work during the preview period on the ordering of scenes. I never left the stage so I never had the chance to go backstage and look at my script to see what would happen next. There were definitely times when I would finish a scene and think to myself 'I have no idea whats going to happen next, but I know that someone is going to come out and start talking to me and I'm going to have to talk back at them' We often joked that we would never call 'line' because we'd forgotten, but we would call for a 'scene.'
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? You have to really know yourself and be comfortable with yourself. To really be daring in the choices you make on stage, you have to be ready to fall on your face. I can't tell you how many terrible jokes I've made in rehearsals in my life, but if you don't weed through the really terrible ones, then you never find the gems.
8. What was it like to perform at in the "80th Birthday Celebration of Stephen Sondheim"? It was amazing! Working on "Road Show" with Sondheim was my first job in the city and so it was great to give back to him in some way. My favorite part was singing selections from "Pacific Overtures" with B.D. Wong because I don't suppose I'll get another opportunity to sing that show with a full orchestra, haha. When I came in that day for my sound check, I walked off stage when I finished and ran into someone (literally) on the stairs and I was halfway up to my dressing room when I realized it was Catherine Zeta Jones! She's remarkably glamorous. The absolute highlight of the evening was sitting backstage next to Angela Lansbury in her robe and slippies listening to Len Cariou sing "Sweeney Todd." She was incredibly sweet and got really emotional when he started singing. It was really touching.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Be well rounded. My freshman year of college I had a mentor who urged me to always explore and not just bury my head in the theatre all the time. So I got a job working for a Non-Profit that set up English schools in communities around the world and took off time from school to work in China and Russia. People questioned why I was wasting my youth as a performer, but the real life and struggles I saw while working with those people changed my life. In many ways those experiences have informed me as an artist and actor.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My dog Diogi (pronounced like D.O.G.). He's always happy. I wonder what he would do if he was in a dream land where he could do anything he wanted. He would probably go open the refrigerator and eat all the almond butter.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? Going to the movies, reading, playing in the park with Diogi. I like to run outside when it's warm or do yoga with Melissa van der Schyff who plays my wife in "Bonnie & Clyde."
12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs.
13. Favorite website? www.bbc.com. I don't know why I rely on the British for my news, but I do. I just like the format of their website.
14. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? Well, Julia Murney, an Elphaba, lives in my building and makes the best brownies in the world, so I would say Elphaba.