@bwaynews is proud to present the latest in our interview series – Raymond J. Lee! Ray has appeared in Mamma Mia on Broadway as well as tons of off-Broadway and regional work. Catch Ray currently starring as John in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Anything Goes!

Who or what inspired you to be an actor and dancer?

I think the first inspiration I had was to be a singer when I was a kid.  I remember listening to Mariah Carey’s “Music Box” back in the day and trying to sing like her.  She was a huge inspiration for me growing up and so was that album.  It’ll always hold a special place in my heart.  And as I kept on singing during middle school and high school, I was introduced to acting and theater and immediately fell in love.  I have been pursuing that love ever since.

What’s it like working with such masters in acting like Sutton and Joel?

I still pinch myself that I get to perform on the same stage as Sutton Foster and Joel Grey.  To me, they are both huge living theater legends, and I’m just in constant awe of them and their talents.  Plus they couldn’t be any more down-to-earth and wonderful human beings! I mean Sutton gets us bagels every Saturday since we opened and “Bagel Saturdays” have become a regular thing.  And Joel will come and hang out with all of us in our dressing rooms, checking in to make sure our days are going well.   It has really inspired me to be humble and professional in my everyday life.

I’ve noticed on your twitter that the AG cast seems like a big family. Tell us about Runway Sundays and what else you all do for fun backstage.

The AG cast is one ridiculously silly, warm-hearted family.  We really do have a great time with each other and really look forward to coming to work.  I actually tell people who come to the show that the show backstage is even zanier than the one onstage.  We constantly joke with each other and entertain one another.  Runway Sundays started back in the day and we’ve had several ridiculous themes.  And let me tell you, our cast doesn’t look like it, but we all LOVE to eat!

What are some of your favorite moments in Anything Goes?

I think one of the most memorable moments we’ve shared as a cast was The Tony Awards.  As a kid, I had always dreamed of going to one, and this past year I actually got to perform on them.  And it was so magical to be backstage when they announced that we had won BEST REVIVAL and when Sutton won for BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL.  We screamed and jumped for joy, all while backstage and staring at one TV.  The energy that night was palpable.

Are there any specific moments from the past year that really stick with you?

There are so many specific moments.  Opening night was really special because it was my first time opening a show on Broadway.  We also had former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton at the show, which was really cool! And of course, when I found out that Hugh Jackman was at our show, I nearly freaked out. 

People might remember you from the tv competition for FAME. What was that experience like for you?

FAME was one huge learning curve for me. I hadn’t really performed professionally outside of Northwestern University so to be suddenly thrust out onto the TV spotlight was frightening.  The pace at which we had to learn material was so fast and I had to make sure I was constantly on my game. But I learned so much from that experience and met a lot of amazing friends.  We all still keep in touch from the show and call each other “Fame-ily.”  It has been really cool to see what everyone has done post-Fame.  For example, Shannon Bex went on to perform in Danity Kane, Allyson Arena is now a member of Mamma Mia! On Broadway, Lauren Hildebrandt and Alex Boyd are both kicking butt as recording artists.   It’s great to get updates from each other and we make sure to keep in touch.

You’ve done tv ads, film, Mamma Mia on Broadway, plus tons of off-Broadway and regional work. What else do you hope to tackle?

I would like to do a lot more in all three areas: TV, Film, and Theater.  I would like to be a series regular on a television show someday and also hope to land a principal role on Broadway where I get to sing and do my thing.  It has been such a blessing playing the role of “John” in Anything Goes, but I’m excited to show New York what I can really do!

What do you think makes you stand out as an actor? Do you have any special skills listed on your resume?

Let’s see.  My current special skills include playing the violin (Suzuki Method Books 1-8), jumping rope, and imitating Mickey Mouse!  I think being an Asian American actor who sings pop music really makes me stand out as an individual and I’m excited to see what future projects I get to work on.

Tell us something not many people know about you.

I’m an army brat!  I went to six elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and one high school.

What’s your ultimate dream role?

Wow I have so many! To name a few: Leo Bloom in The Producers, Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Mark in Rent, and Elphaba in Wicked

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Stay humble and be considerate of others.

Favorite song to sing in the shower?

I am an absolutely Disney freak! My favorite shower songs include Part of Your World, A Change In Me, On My Own, and anything from Disney’s ALADDIN.

What current show have you been recommending to friends?

I was recommending Bonnie & Clyde to all my friends before it closed. I thought Laura Osnes was amazing.  The current show I’ve been recommending to friends is The Book of Mormon.  I have never laughed that hard in the theater!

Favorite twitters you follow? (theater and non-theater related)

 Well BwayNews…DUH! =)

Big thank you to Ray for taking the time to do the interview! Be sure to check him out in Anything Goes and follow him on Twitter @raymondjlee!

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