NEW YORK — It seems like every summer there’s a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but Nick Cearley feels the one he’s starring in nicely compliments gay pride month.
“I think that the relationship between Puck and Oberon has some gay undertones, overtones, whatever you want to call them, so I think it lends itself perfectly,” Cearley said.
The actor-musician stars as the wise-guy sprite Puck in a more imaginative version of Shakespeare’s masterpiece that runs a little shorter, includes some razzle-dazzle and adds music played by Cearley on ukulele and other instruments.
“This is a very musical Puck,” Cearley said.
The show runs through the end of the month at the 47th Street Theatre, but Cearley has a busy year ahead of him.
He’ll be on the road playing Alex Moore in the one-man show “Buyer & Cellar” in between playing short tours with his band, The Skivvies. The playful duo, which includes his “partner in crime” Lauren Molina, creatively plays a wide range of music “stripped down.” They are often joined by elite Broadway stars, who also must perform in their underwear or some other creative type of undergarment.
Cearley spoke to The Associated Press about the band’s growing fan base, gay pride and playing a Shakespearean character.
AP: You’re playing one of the more common and beloved characters the bard has offered, but you play him differently. Why?
Cearley: I feel a little bit like a hippy, especially with how I’m dressed and all the instruments I play, there a very tribal feeling. It’s very earthy. Especially in this production, I feel Puck is the first gay stoner ever written for the stage.
AP: Do you think that makes it the perfect Shakespeare for gay pride month?
Cearley: I do. I keep it so happy. It just feels like a gay pride parade up there. (Laughs.)
AP: With the Supreme Court hearing marriage equality, folks from the transgender community like Laverne Cox and now Caitlyn Jenner being accepted by a majority of Americans, what are your thoughts?
Cearley: I think in (the) time that I came out until now the world has changed immensely. I can’t even imagine in 1999 when I was going to college seeing Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of anything, and that was just 16 years ago. It’s the civil rights case of our generation. Each decade has had its own thing, but this is ours, for sure.
AP: Are you surprised at the success of The Skivvies, or is it that people just want to see nearly naked people playing in front of them?
Cearley: I’m surprised. But we’ve been getting more shows to play with our clothes on lately. So we joked, ‘I don’t know how to play this song in our clothes.’ We just played a long run in Florida, and ended with a big show for high schoolers, and they were like you can’t take off your clothes, but our kids love you. We played for 8,000 Florida thespians. And we played the Tampa Theatre (for 1,400), and it was our best show.
AP: What did you think about the Tony Awards?
Cearley: I was happy about ‘Fun Home.’ That’s a big deal for something like ‘Fun Home’ to win that big because generally the Tony Awards are about commercial productions and what tours well. And I feel the Tonys are just a big commercial for that, even though there’s wonderful people being recognized. So I was very surprised ‘Fun Home’ won best musical and very happy. I thought for sure it was going to be like the year (2009) with ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘Next to Normal.’ While that won the Pulitzer, ‘Billy Elliott’ played a bigger crowd. I thought was going to happen with ‘An American in Paris’ and ‘Fun Home,’ but it didn’t.