Brennan Caldwell is an NYC-based actor who recently starred in the Off-Broadway musical comedy Baghdaddy at St. Luke’s Theatre. The show is a dark musical comedy about the run-up to the Iraq War.
Originally from Kansas City, Caldwell majored in theater at Yale before moving to New York City in 2012. We sat down with the current Upper West Sider to discuss life in the theater and his love for the City.
Tell us about the first time you performed in NYC. What was that experience like? Brennan Caldwell: My first production in the City was a reading of a new musical for NYMF [the New York Musical Theatre Festival], performed at the Davenport Theatre. Though there were only a couple of shows, it was still thrilling to perform here after dreaming about it for so long. This past summer, I got to return to the Davenport for another Off-Broadway show, Money Talks.
How is NYC different from other places you’ve lived? BC: New York is hard to define: I feel like the one constant is change. But nowhere else can you match New York’s theater scene and its sheer volume of passionate artistry.
What are some places in NYC that inspire you as an artist? BC: Whenever I get overwhelmed by New York—which is often—I like spending time in its parks or bookstores. I live close to Central Park and find myself there a lot. I also love Westsider Books, a little hole-in-the-wall rare and used bookstore at 80th and Broadway.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment as a performer? BC: I once sang a concert with my all-male a cappella group for an all-boys middle school in Wisconsin. We got zero applause between songs, and the sketches went over so poorly we abandoned one in the middle. I still have nightmares about it.
Describe the impact the LGBTQ community has had on the theater world in NYC BC: I think it’s impossible to describe because it’s almost beyond description: there would simply be no theater world without the LGBTQ community.
How can LGBTQ travelers support LGBTQ performers and shows in the City? BC: As the LGBTQ community is so entrenched in New York theater, attending any show is sure to support these artists in some capacity. No matter which ones you end up seeing, consider donating to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. They’re a nonprofit fundraising organization that supports essential services for HIV and AIDS across the country.
Do you have any tips for people coming to see a show for the first time? BC: Take a chance on something off the beaten path. It’s natural to want to see something surefire or quintessential Broadway, but some of the most exciting and remarkable shows happen in the smallest theaters downtown or in another borough.
Also, please make sure your cell phones are off during the show; no calls, no text messages, no photos! It’s incredibly distracting for other audience members—and for the performers on stage.
Off-Broadway Week offers two-for-one tickets to select productions; it runs through October 8. Click here to find a list of participating shows and to purchase tickets.