Greg Messmer is hysterical. Like laugh-out-loud hysterical. I was lucky enough to sit in on a rehearsal for PMT’s Cinderella and he had me cracking up. Lanky and tall, his body language was as expressive as his face – which is saying something. He’s mastered the art of subtlety in his expressions. Every curl of his lips, every eyebrow raise, every twitch in his cheek added to his performance. If this kid is acting this way now, I can’t wait to see what he’ll be like when he’s twenty and thirty and forty! A class act all the way, it was my great good time to interview him. Enjoy!
1. You play the King and in the rehearsal I sat in on, play him very well! You have me cracking up! So tell me first, does comedy come naturally for you? Is it easier to make em laugh instead of cry? 🙂
Comedy is actually something that I have had to work on. It takes precise timing and practiced delivery for a joke to come off as it was intended by the writers, and I think that’s why it’s really easier to make the audience cry. It’s so much easier to make a serious situation seem real. With comedy you get one chance to have the audience in stitches, and if it doesn’t work you may have a hard time regaining control of the scene. However comedy definitely has a bigger pay off as you get to interact directly with the audience, and I love that.
2. What are you doing to make the King your character?
First, I’ve only watched the show once. Just to see some of how the part has been played before and how the story comes together. I try to do and say things as I would if I were in the situation, and I feel that’s where a lot of the realism can come from. Aside from that, I’m trying to avoid playing him as regal or stuffy, because he’s really one of the most down-to-earth characters in the show.
3. As you learn and explore, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about your character?
As much as the Queen worries about the Prince and his well being, and as much as the King tries to brush off the situation, I feel that he really has his son’s best interest at heart, and that’s something I really love about this character.
4. How is it acting with your Queens?
Leah and Hope are both fantastic to work with. They both work so professionally and have so much to contribute to every scene that we do. It’s already turning out to be a fantastic experience, and I don’t think I could have asked for any two better people to share it with.
5. You’re character wants nothing but the best for his family. How important is family to you?
Family is extremely important to me. Both of my parents are very supportive, and both of them push me to get better and better at what I do. My siblings are also very supportive of me as the youngest. In fact, I think a lot of what is helping with the “magic” of this show is having seen my niece at Disney World. There’s absolutely nothing that can compare to a child’s dream of meeting a princess come true, and I’m so happy that my family can share as we bring this iconic princess story to life.
6. It’s such a young cast and everyone has such marvelous energy. Describe an average day at the studio.
I honestly don’t think there is and “average” day. Every day holds something new here. As a member of the Pre-College Program, I’m in class here from 1:30 to 4 or 5 and then in rehearsal from 5:30 to 9:00. The days are long, but the experiences are so rewarding that it’s hardly an issue.
7. Okay, let’s switch gears a moment. You’re a young actor. You’re in a field that has certain, shall we say, stereotypes. Is it difficult being a young male singer and actor? Have you ever been bullied or ostracized for being in this profession? And if so, what’s your advice? How do you overcome things like that, and not let people like that affect you?
It honestly is difficult. I get made fun of on a daily basis, and I get questioned constantly as to why I want to be a performer. In truth, I’ve come to ignore the things that people say, because they honestly are not going to affect my opinion. The advice I have is to just do what you love, because if you don’t love what you do, it’s not worth doing. People’s minds will change; their opinions will change, and it eventually becomes something that you can be proud of. To say that you can touch the lives of hundreds of people a night is no exaggeration, and it’s the best reward of any career path.
8. Pittsburgh Musical Theater seems like such a fun, warm and nurturing environment for actors. Tell me about your experience with them.
I honestly believe this to be the best place if you are a young performer. The teachers and staff are so caring and helpful and it makes for an environment that just breeds creativity. I came to PMT my freshman year of high school, and fell in love immediately. I did just saturdays my first year, then was in the transitions program two years before being a part of the Pre-College Program this year. It’s actually a bittersweet experience this year, because I’m applying to and auditioning for colleges and I really don’t want to leave this big, crazy family.
9. Finally, my end question to every interview: tell me some advice you have for the people reading this interview that want to act and break into the theater community in Pittsburgh?
Audition, Audition, Audition. Pittsburgh has such a great arts community and the best way to break into it is to just get you name out there as much as possible because it’s such a small city. The more you do, the more people will remember you and the better your chances at taking advantage of one of the many wonderful opportunities this city has to offer.