A few weeks ago The Old Globe announced that New York City-based actor Jeff Skowron is returning to San Diego to play the Grinch for a second year in the production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
We hung out with Skowron last December for a story in our People at Work series. I’m intrigued by the way arts organizations all over the county bring in people for a weekend or a few months to perform, direct, sculpt, dance. While they’re here, they participate in the economy: they buy groceries and gas and go to the Zoo and whatever else.
I thought it’d be fun to follow Skowron through his run as the Grinch this year. He arrives this weekend; the play opens Nov. 20 and runs through Dec. 26. He agreed to blog for us, so we’ll check in with Skowron every week or so to see how things are going.
What have you been up to this year since you last were in San Diego?
When I returned to New York last year, I began rehearsals for ENRON on Broadway. It was a daring, exciting play and I loved every minute of it. I was signed to a year contract so I thought I wouldn’t be able to return to San Diego this year. Unfortunately, ENRON closed prematurely. It was depressing. But the day after the press releases went out announcing the closing, Samantha Barrie (Old Globe’s casting director) got in touch with me and said, “I’m so sorry about ENRON. You wanna come play Grinch?”
That was nice to hear. Also, the week after ENRON closed, my writing partner and I shot a pilot of a tv show we’ve been developing for a couple of years, “Greg and Donny.” We entered it in the New York Television Festival. The festival took place at the end of last month and we won the top honor: a development deal with the Independent Film Channel. I’ll have more news about this later.
How many of these types of residencies do you do in a year? Is this the only one?
Every year is different, but since my time in San Diego last year, I’ve only done one other job like this. I was in Sacramento.
What kind of ends do you have to tie up to leave your life in New York for a few months?
I’m actually moving out of my apartment two days before I travel to San Diego. Everything is going into storage. I’m a little stressed out about it.
What’d you learn from doing the role last year that is changing something about how you’re packing for this one, or thinking about this one?
I’ve learned that I need to get my Halloween costume as soon as possible. Last year Logan (Young Max), Gina (assistant director) and I decided to go out for Halloween. We waited until 7 p.m. that night to start looking for costumes.
Bad idea. All of the costume stores looked like they had been pillaged by Vikings. Logan had to buy a child’s prisoner costume that looked really flammable. I couldn’t find fangs so I tried to cut Lee press-on nails and glue them onto my teeth. It didn’t work. I’m doing it early this year.
I also learned that I need to bring a humidifier. As you know, the show is very vocally demanding and sleeping with a humidifier beside me makes a huge difference. I used to make fun of actors who used humidifiers, it made them seem like fragile hypochondriacs. But I was wrong. Those things work.
What preparation do you do, if any, before you get to San Diego to do a role like this? Last year’s production seems like it happened yesterday. I honestly remember every bit of it. I think I’ll read through the script on the plane and think about new things I’d like to try with the role. We have a different director this year, James Vasquez. So it will be a new experience for me, which is stimulating. But all the hard work, figuring out what it’s actually like to play such an exhausting role so many times a week, and how to pace myself: that was accomplished last year, so I feel nice and confident going into this again.
Jeff Skowron will be writing occasional posts from backstage for the next few months while he plays the Grinch at The Old Globe. Have a question of your own for him? You can leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0531. You can follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.