Spotlight: Telly Leung

April 13, 2012

You know him from Glee, you know him from the stage, it’s Telly Leung! He’s been a part of Wicked and Rent, and now he’s rocking Godspell 8 shows a week. Definitely a stand-out in that cast, Telly talks about his experience with the show plus his theater past.

Let’s talk Godspell! What I love about the show is that it’s not overly religious, it’s universal and more about how we should all treat each other. What first attracted you to doing Godspell?

The thing that first attracted me to GODSPELL is Stephen Schwartz’s incredible score. Believe it or not, he wrote the whole thing in 3 weeks! It’s kind of mind-blowing, to think that these songs that have touched so many people in the last 40 years was written in 3 weeks by a very talented, 23 year old! The score is filled with such joy – and his melodies linger well after the show is over. Also – there is something about MUSIC that’s able to inspire and touch people of ANY religious background. Music unites – and breaks barriers.


Who has been your favorite guest at Godspell so far? I was there when Paul Shaffer appeared, that was a real treat!

Sharing the stage with Paul Shaffer was great. He is GODSPELL family – and we had a blast with him the show. He is PURE MAGIC behind the piano. He was so game to play, and such a great sport – and supportive of this new production. I think he’s been my favorite on stage guest. My favorite celeb to visit the show has to be Angela Lasbury, hands down! She’s a living legend – and an inspiration to everyone on Broadway.


Your list of theater credits is neverending. What’s something you would love to do if given the chance?

I’ve been very blessed to be a part of a lot of fantastic shows, but I’m bummed that I NEVER got to do Les Miz. It’s one of my favorite shows, and the show has a great reputation of casting actors non-traditionally. I’d love to be a part of the production someday: Marius, Enjoloras, Thenardier, Val Jean, or barricade boy #3! Just wanna sing that score.


What was your experience like being a part of the final RENT cast on Broadway?

RENT was the show of my generation. It was THE show that I saw in high school that inspired me to pursue a career in theater. It was the first time I saw the DIVERSITY of my home, NYC, represented on a Broadway stage, singing music that was of MY generation – and it opened my eyes to the possibility of being part of the Broadway community. I was definitely a RENT head. I must have seen the show over 20 times ever since it opened in 1996 (thank goodness for rush seats and lotto tickets). Who would have thought that 10 years later, in 2006, I’d get to join cast, stand on “the line” singing SEASONS OF LOVE, looking at my front row seat the first time I saw RENT? It was a full circle moment.


 …And how was the Hollywood Bowl experience?

Neil Patrick Harris is part of the RENT family – and I was thrilled he asked me to be a part of this awesome production. We got to add some new folks to the family (Vanessa Hudgens, Nicole Scherzinger, Wayne Brady – my darling Collins) – and they all stepped up to the daunting task of putting together this beast of a show in 10 days! The Hollywood Bowl is a “dream venue” to play. 17,000 seats, being broadcast on a giant jumbo-tron, singing I’ll Cover You with Wayne Brady under the stars… it was an experience I’ll never forget.


Aside from the stage, I’m sure you have a big following because of Glee as well. What has been your favorite part of working on that show?

My favorite part of Glee: Getting to know Darren Criss and my Warbler brothers. It’s truly a great group of guys – all super talented and genuinely good people – and I’m honored and proud to call them my colleagues and friends. We’ve all keep in touch (thanks to twitter and FB), and I miss my boys terribly.


Godspell is such a physically demanding show, so what’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

I try my best to STAY QUIET on my day off. I also try to catch OTHER shows and sitting in the audience, instead of performing. We have Monday nights and Wednesday nights off from GODSPELL, so I actually DO get a chance to see my friends in shows – even though I’m in a show myself. I also enjoy spending my day-off catching up on my DVR!


Anything new on the horizon you can share with us?

I have some exciting things coming up! On May 14 (7 pm), I’ll be doing a one-night only gig at BIRDLAND with an amazing trio of musicians (Gary Adler – composer of ALTERBOYZ is my music director with Michael Croiter on drums and Mary Ann McSweeney on bass). You can get tickets here:

I’m also working on a solo album as well – with the good folks at YELLOW SOUND LABEL. I’m honored to be working on my full length album with the same folks that have done recordings for other artists I really respect like Chita Rivera & Alan Cumming.

In the fall of this year, I am expected to star alongside Lea Salonga and George Takei in the world premiere of ALLEGIANCE, a new musical about a Japanese American family during the Internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The show is being directed by Stafford Arima, one of my favorite collaborators, and I will be reunited with Christopher Gattelli, my choreographer on GODSPELL. The out-of-town try out of ALLEGIANCE will be at the Old Globe in San Diego, and we have high hopes that the show will open on Broadway in the Spring of 2013.


Tell us something not many people know about you…

I hate water chestnuts (I know – shocking, since it’s found in so many Chinese dishes!)


Favorite twitters you follow?

At the moment, my favorite tweets are from my GODSPELL cast mates. We are a VERY tech-saavy cast, and our cast is big on social networking. We all love to tweet, Facebook, use instagram, etc.


Huge thanks to Telly for taking the time to chat with @bwaynews. Be sure to check out Godspell on Broadway. Follow Telly on twitter @tellyleung


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