Exclusive Q&A: Tony-Nominated Jared Grimes Talks ‘Funny Girl’

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Jared Grimes has a big week coming up! Not only does he play Eddie Ryan EIGHT times a week in the hit Broadway musical Funny Girl, but he also has the Tony Awards this weekend where he is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. Jared Grimes is a quadruple threat singing, dancing, acting, and choreographing his way into our hearts. We got the pleasure of chatting with him on it all.

Stage Right Secrets: Do you remember the first time you saw Funny Girl? 

Jared Grimes: Growing up I remember always seeing bits and pieces of it as it was playing on TNT, TBS or any other network. I feel like it was always playing on some channel in a hotel room. But the first time I watched the entire movie was when I was auditioning for Funny Girl. 

SRS: Safe to say that this cast is AMAZING! How were rehearsals? 

JG: Rehearsals for Funny Girl were amazing! It was always a good time being able to crack jokes with the rest of the cast and spend our time enjoying the stage. Rehearsals gave us a time to bond and talk about other things such as UFC Fights, boxing matches, football and even social media. 

SRS: How do you relate to your character, Eddie Ryan? 

JG: To start off, Eddie Ryan is a choreographer and I like to think of myself as a choreographer as well since I’ve been dancing my whole life. Having such an extensive background in dance has allowed me to understand what kind of perspective to bring to the role. I like to think he’s one of the early remnants of what a tap dance star would be like. I tend to think that’s what he represented, stars such as Bojangles, John Bubbles, The Nicholas brothers, and so on. To me, Eddie Ryan represents a lot of amazing African American tap dancers who the history books don’t really write about. So when I got to play Eddie, I was like okay cool, I’m going to try to set the foundation to what would have been the springboard to future acts such as those. 

SRS: Do you have a dream role to play or show to choreograph? 

JG: For sure! Sammy Davis Jr and Fred Astaire. It’s kind of crazy because I look like both of them. But that would be my dream role, to play one of them or both of them at some point. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to fill one of their shoes, fingers crossed!

SRS: You use to dance in the NYC subways (which is incredible). Do you have a favorite story from your experience? 

JG: The entire experience of performing in NYC subways is my favorite story to look back on. When I first moved to New York, I wasn’t able to get on stage as much because no one knew who I was and so I thought, okay let me bring the stage to the subway. My friends and I used to go down there with a board and their buckets and we would spend hours down there just dancing and creating. Audiences and crowds would walk by and check us out. Some people would even stop to dance with us and one time someone even put $200 in the bucket. 

SRS: Do you have any preshow rituals? 

JG: I and two other tap dancers usually dance in the lobby of the theater 30 minutes before the show. That’s our designated area to just be loud, create and have fun. We like to say we turn the lobby into our lab. I create all this cool stuff 30 minutes before the show and some of it actually shows up in the show – small moments of improvisation.

SRS: What are your dressing room must-haves? 

JG: My dressing room must-haves are towels. I take a lot of showers, I’ll get to the theater, do my pre-show ritual in the lobby I just spoke about, and then I’ll take a shower. After that I usually get into mics and then after the show, I’ll take another shower. So on 2 show days, I’ll usually take around 4-5 showers in one day. Towels are a must-have for me! 

SRS: What do you think the future of theater looks like? 

JG: Future of theater. I hope it just becomes more diverse and not because people feel like they have to but more because people want to. That’s what I think theater will look like and hopefully people will give more people an opportunity instead of the same people we see getting jobs all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love who works consistently because consistent work is great work but I’d love to see new faces and new perspectives on art as much as I can. So hopefully new faces and more diversity in theater. At least that’s what I think it’ll look like if the arts really want to acquire the best artistic minds out there and not just the same artistic minds. Sometimes the best is something new we haven’t seen before.