Adam Perry's life may be described as ‘surreal' these days. The talented performer from a small town in Tennessee is currently dancing up a storm in the Tony Award Winning revival of ANYTHING GOES. He works side by side with stage and screen legend Joel Grey, whose daughter Jennifer starred in the movie that first inspired him to pursue a career in theater. And if that isn't ‘surreal' enough, next Wednesday he will appear up on the silver screen, dancing alongside actress Michelle Williams in the highly anticipated film biopic, ‘My Week With Marilyn'.
BWW had a chance to catch up with Adam Perry in the middle of his hectic schedule to talk about all the exciting opportunities that have recently come his way.
I was lucky enough to see ‘Anything Goes' the other night and thought it was fabulous. The audience reaction was incredible - the applause went on and on. How does it feel when you get that kind of response?
It's really thrilling. It's probably the coolest thing that can happen. To be in front of all those people screaming and cheering and clapping - it's so incredibly special. It gives you such a rush.
Your resume includes such impressive productions as 'Promises Promises' and 'A Chorus Line'. What was your Broadway debut?
‘Wicked' was my Broadway debut. It's so funny because when I first came to New York after college I had won the lottery to ‘Wicked' and saw it in the front row. I just was totally in awe of the cast and I loved the dancing in the show. I just thought the ensemble dancers were so cool - they had these funky haircuts and these funky clothes and they were doing this really contemporary choreography and I was like ‘they are the coolest people ever. I will never be that cool.' And then later on down the line I ended up becoming one of those people - it was literally a dream come true!
Who would you say were some of your earliest influences as far as dancing?
You know I come from a very small town in Tennessee and I didn't start dancing until I was 20 years old. I started dancing very late. There were only a few studios in the area I was from and they were kind of far away. There wasn't a Drama Department in my high school or anything like that so I didn't really start studying until I got into college. And it's funny with the Marilyn Monroe movie happening because when I was younger my only exposure to dance was really through the movies. I remember ‘Dirty Dancing' - I wanted to be just like Patrick Swayze. I had the movie on VHS tape and I would try to do all the moves from the movie in my living room. I just loved him so much. I would also say Gene Kelly was one of the people who influenced me. But no, I didn't have a lot of experience in theater when I was younger - it was all TV and film where I saw dance and musical theater.
And how funny that you ended up working with Joel Grey, Jennifer Grey's father.
I know! I know! Exactly. I told Joel that. I haven't had a chance to meet his daughter but I told him that ‘Dirty Dancing' is one of the reasons why I am a dancer now - it's because of that movie!
Stephanie J. Block is doing an outstanding job temporarily taking over the role of Reno Sweeney for Sutton Foster. Did the cast have any sort of rehearsal time to help her transition into the show?
Stephanie had a couple weeks rehearsal and we had basically only one extra rehearsal where we just came in and we ran the show with her. I have a lot of interaction with her because I have to lift her a lot in the dances. She has just honestly done an amazing job. She really is just such a trooper and such a hard worker and always just stays cool, calm and collected. She's like, ‘Oh I know I'm gonna get it' when she made mistakes. She wouldn't beat herself up over it - she'd make a joke about it and move on. It's been kind of a seamless transition. She's really done a great job in moving into the role.
Kathleen Marshall, (the Tony Award winning choreographer for ‘Anything Goes') was responsible for the choreography in "My Week With Marilyn'. Is that how you became involved in the project?
Yes. Basically what happened was I was on my way to a Wednesday matinee, just walking to the theater and I got a phone call from Kathleen Marshall herself saying ‘I'm working on this film project. I'd love to have you in the studio with me with Michelle Williams to help me figure this number out. We're going to have two guys in the room. We're filming the number in London so we're not sure exactly if we can bring the two of you yet because there may be some sort of rules about hiring local dancers. So we're not necessarily sure that you are going to be in the movie but we would love you to work with us as a pre-production kind of thing. ‘ So it was really a very cool opportunity, working in the studio with Michelle Williams on this film project. I mean that's totally cool.
So what eventually happened? Did you get the chance to go to London?
What happened was after a couple of weeks of rehearsal they said, ‘we're going to try to take the two of you'. Of course we were beside ourselves! It was my first time to Europe - I'd never been across the Atlantic. I was ecstatic about it. We had to work out all those kinks of getting out of the show for a week. Kathleen Marshall was so wonderful about all of it. I was just so flattered and honored that she chose me and that she took me to London with her and I got to film this amazing movie. It was an incredible experience. In London, I had a little free time so I got to explore the city.
The movie opens with Michelle Williams as Marilyn, yourself and one other male performer dancing to the classic song "Heat Wave'. Was the choreography copied from an actual Monroe performance or was it all new, original choreography?
It's not based on an actual thing that she did specifically but she did sing these songs at different times. I think they just pulled these numbers from different movies that Marilyn did and made their own simple but very sexy version of it, and then set it in this smoky, jazz club kind of place.