I met Paul Nicely a couple years ago after hearing a LOT about him. No seriously, a LOT. I was like "enough already about this Nicely guy." And what I heard was all positive. Always. And then I did a show with him at IndyFringe last year (DeSade) and we had a great time and I quickly realized through the process that all that I had heard about Paul was true... and then some. Not only is this man a remarkable talent, but a truly awesome person to know and have around. I am incredibly pleased that we are were able to "have him around" in ZirkusGrimm for the remount as the Manager. So, even though you might know him, have heard of him, or seen him in a show, let's get to know him a little better with 9 questions...
— Ben Asaykwee
1. So, Paul, I consider you Indy Theatre royalty from all your involvement all around town and beyond... what is one of your favorite recent roles/shows and one of your favorite not-so-recent roles/shows?
Royalty, hardly. Lady-In-Waiting, maybe. Finally being able to play Javert in Les Miserables at Booth Tarkington was incredible. The wait was like 25 plus years and absolutely worth it. Going back further, it would have to be playing Paul in Nicky Silvers' The Maiden's Prayer at Stages Repertory in Houston. It was a role I wrestled with because there were so many similarities between us and those similarities are alot of what I had fought so hard to Not be. It helped me embrace a part of myself I had always denied.
2. You're playing The Manager in ZirkusGrimm, have you ever been a manager in real life?
Yes. A Photo Studio Manager and Project Manager. Very similar to Directing and/or Producing a show.
3. What is your favorite Brothers' Grimm tale?
Maybe Hansel & Grethel.They escape the clutches of the Witch so cleverly., helping each other. And are reunited with their father, sans stepmother, at the end.
4. Have you ever been to a circus? If so, what do you remember about it?
I have never been. But I have watched The Greatest Show On Earthdozens of times. Freaks, old old movie, is another favorite. And the book Geek Love, I've read a handful of times. Do those count? I really like the thought of these people, these off-beat, strange people, who have been shunned/ostracized, coming together and making their OWN family. Banding together, being proud of their strangeness and accepting of each others differences. (If you haven't read Geek Love Ben, you need to).
5. Assuming that you're having a good time :) what have you enjoyed most about the rehearsal process for ZirkusGrimm so far? Lost on Ice Island. (?!?)
It's a very clean process. Collaborative in nature. The Director has specifics in mind and is clear about them, yet also allows for the actor to grow the role. And working on a new piece is great. There are no preconceived ideas about what the show or characters look like.
6. If you were a circus animal, what would it be? (and you can't have Ostrich because I'm totally taking that one)
I'd probably be the Monkey that rides the elephants.
7. You saw the show last year, what was your favorite part as an audience member? Now being in it, what is your favorite part? (by the way if feels REALLY weird asking a question like that since I wrote the show we're talking about... like a "tell me all the things you like about me" type of question - but I'm really curious.. not about me but the show...but if you want to tell me all the things you like about me I can't stop you because we're doing this over email).
I remember the rawness of it. It was like watching this wild animal that was slightly, just barely, tamed. Very tribal, rough around the edges, and so vibrant and full of energy. Dangerous, but exciting because of that possibility of danger. My favorite part being in it is watching the director change it up according to his current cast. Singing the music in this is a blast. It's so varied and just when you think it's going somewhere, it changes up.
8. You were just recently Javert in Les Miserables at Civic Theatre and even though I didn't see it I heard you were awesome (p.s. I was gonna come one day and it was sold out and that's the truth). That show is about a bunch of french people doin' some stuff.. ZirkusGrimm is about a bunch of "german" people doin' some stuff... what other similarities do you think the shows have if any?
Both have very large casts and many storylines. There's certainly the main focus characters, but all of the characters are integral to the story. They're both also kinda epic in scope.The humour in both is very dark.
9. One of the songs you sing in the show is a new one called "Always A Stepmother".. what is your experience with those (stepmothers, I mean)? Do you have one? If not, have you ever thought of getting one? Tell me your thoughts on this...
Nope, never had one, never needed one. I have the best mother. And my Dad has a great new lady in his life, but she's just Louise. I'm way too old for that to effect me. But I do think stepmothers get a bum rap. I mean, how could you compete with the First wife and the FIRST mother? You can't! You're always gonna feel second class in some respects.