Benjamin is a dream (& a nightmare!)

Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:29:00 pm

Benjamin McHugh has been evoking cheers and jeers during performances of Jekyll & Hyde. As the alternate for Jekyll & Hyde...the Aussie star has had to jump in on a moment's notice... read on! 

I'm originally from Adelaide, South Australia.  When I was 14, my family moved from Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where I finished my high school years.  While I was there, the school had a very strong music department and every year they would have a mid-year musical.  During my final year, they held auditions for Grease.  I had no intention of performing, but was really interested in lighting - so I went along and asked if I could be the lighting operator.  The director said "sure - but why don't you audition anyway and see how you go?".  So I did and I ended up landing the part of Danny Zuko that John Travolta made famous!  With absolutely no acting, singing or dancing experience I went on.  It was hilariously bad but I had the best time and the seed was definitely planted for my love for this industry.

Acting?  I think to begin with it was just lots of fun.  I did community theatre for 5 years in Adelaide after I returned from NZ, and It was the "community" aspect I loved - making lots of friends and going to the pub after rehearsal.  I think actors that have influenced me the most are Hugo Weaving, Anthony Warlow, Tom Hanks & Al Pacino . 
My friend Noelle Berry wrote to me telling me about the auditions coming up.  She was part of the Westchester cast of J&H from 2001 and couldn't stop talking about how much she loved the show, loved working with Bob Cuccioli and thought I would be perfect in it.  I'd never done the show before, but I got really excited about the opportunity to work with Bob and sing the score.  When I found out I was the Jekyll & Hyde understudy, I was thrilled!

Going on for the first time last week was like nothing I had ever experienced.  The role is huge and very intimidating and I had only 2 hours rehearsal!  It was an incredible time.  We managed to get through it - JUST.  Luckily, we have an amazingly talented and supportive cast and crew that helped me through every step of that first show.  The best part of my first show was when at the end of "The Way Back"  during the transformation, I tried to pull the hair-tie out and instead my entire wig was off my head and on the floor in front of me!  Ahhhh... Live Theatre! Nailed it!  It has been amazing since.  I can't say enough about the incredible cast and crew I work with.
Jekyll & Hyde has always been one of those dream roles.  But I would also love to play Chris in Miss Saigon, Tony in West Side Story, and Enjolras in Les Miserables.  Next To Normal is a new favorite along with A Little Night Music & Merrily We Roll Along by Sondheim.  
I love working on my new home that my wife and I have just bought in Brooklyn.  It's a beautiful 100-year-old Brownstone and in really good condition, but there is still a lot of love and care needed and on my days off from J&H, it seems to dominate.  As I am typing this, I have three electricians working on lighting problems right now!  Apart from that, I love going to the movies, seeing friends and of course hanging with my beautiful wife. 
 Hmmm, whats on my iPod?   So so much.  I love all sorts of music, but the style I always seem to fall back on is chill-out or house music.  My brother is a London DJ and he sends me mix CD's all the time with his latest creations.  I have to credit him with a lot of my musical influences.  But my favorite band of all - Zero 7.  Awesome awesome awesome!  Check them out!  I'm sure if you've never heard of them, you more than likely would have heard some of their stuff.  Most fav song is called "Destiny"!


Leave a Comment