Bill Heck, who is typically interested in projects that require “to get dirty,” jokes that his current role in the Broadway revival of “Take Me Out” is the cleanest he’s ever played on stage, featuring some of the play’s best-known scenes. locker room shower.
Of course, the actor in “Leftovers” and “Old Man” in the TV credits only meant it literally. “There’s a melancholy in the game that I find really amazing and heartbreaking,” he told HuffPost. “My soul is a wreck every night.”
Written by Richard Greenberg and directed by Scott Ellis, “Take Me Out” follows the New York Empires, a fictional Major League Baseball team that collapses after the disclosure of its only bi-racial player, Darren Lemming (played by Jesse Williams). publicly announces that he is gay.
Heck, who last appeared on Broadway in the 2014 reboot “Cabaret,” stars as Kippy Sunderstrom, who tries to rekindle his team’s sense of camaraderie while maintaining his kinship with Lemming. Ellis recommended Heck for the role as he worked together on two episodes of TNT’s “The Closer.” Heck stepped in after Patrick J. Adams, who played Kippy from April to June of this year, was unable to return when “Take Me Out” was remade for a fall engagement in October.
As the game’s narrator, Kippy initiates intense discussions about the toxic masculinity, racism and homophobia embedded in America’s pastime.
“There’s something beautiful about the way she desires to live her life that I really feel connected,” Heck said of the character. “What I love about her is her desire to be open to all the beauties, complexities and nuances life has to offer. He is not afraid to experience joy and let it relate to what is going on in the world. But it also gets you in some trouble.
And despite “Take me out” Premiering on Broadway in 2003, it seems particularly urgent given the current crackdown on LGBTQ rights in many conservative states and the fact that no active player in Major League Baseball still turns out to be gay.
“It’s a little unsettling that it’s still so relevant,” Heck said. “I felt like there was a time when progress was linear and we as a society had really figured things out, and it’s amazing that this was suddenly arrested at the authorized level. It’s connected to Darren’s personal journey in the game where resistance comes from unexpected quarters and betrays him when he expresses his true feelings from people he thought were safe. looks.”
The current production of “Take Me Out” received nearly universal praise from critics and received two Tony Awards, including Best Animated Play. As in 2003, much of the buzz surrounding the show highlighted shower scenes where the majority of the all-male cast appeared completely nude.
All the attention to the shower scenes was not entirely welcome. Audiences are required to lock their phones in sealed bags during the performance, but after nude footage of Williams from the show was leaked online earlier this year, theater staff reportedly installed infrared cameras to detect potential phone users. producing.
Heck, who had previously gone full front in an off-Broadway production of “Angels in America” more than a decade ago, approached the “Take Me Out” scenes with a sense of humor.
“I still do push-ups before I go on stage, but instead of being nervous, I’m just having fun with it,” she said. “I think the most daunting thing is making sure you’re doing a proper job choreographed with washing and speaking. There are some strategies for washing which parts of you should you wash so you don’t get carried away with the dialogue.
“I felt it was doable, believing in how it served the game and wanting to honor that.”
When “Take Me Out” hits theaters in February, Heck will turn his attention back to the big and small screens. He recently shot a horror film with Sarah Paulson called “Dust”, which he describes as “very scary, sinister and sad in all its entertaining ways”. Fans can also look forward to his return in Season 2 of “The Old Man,” starring the younger version of Jeff Bridges’ character Dan Chase.
For now, Heck is content to continue fighting alongside Williams and the rest of Empires.
“Some projects are harder to sell than others, but I totally believe in this game, this production,” he said. “It’s not just an essential piece, it’s also a lot of fun. It’s so satisfying to be there as the audience discovers how hilarious and also how touching it is. And I hope as many people as possible can have that experience.”
“Take Me Out” is now playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York.