RC: Why did you stay?
RJ: Well, Londonís really the home of theatre. The traditions and skills that you can tap into are just unbelievable, and itís nice to be part of that. The other added advantage is that despite the fact that thereís a lot of anti-Americanism feeling -- itís always been the same, itís not because of this war -- to be a foreigner in a country where you didnít grow up, every day is an enlightening experience. You get to appreciate the world a lot more. And Iíve lived here so long now that when itís a sunny day Iím kind of shielding my eyes and complaining itís too hot. When the grey clouds of London come flying over I always breathe a sigh of relief -- thatís how long Iíve been here!
RC: But youíre from New York, which people think of as the heart of the theatre scene.
RJ: Well you always want to be where youíre not. I grew up through the 80s and all the music I was listening to was from here. It was an unbelievable burst of creativity -- The Smiths, Depeche Mode, The Cure. So before I got here I was completely turned on by the music scene and the culture. In New York we think about musical theatre differently; itís considered an art form, something legitimate. Here in England you read reviews of shows that open in the West End and critics say things like ďthe well-drilled castĒ like it was an army or something. Itís just rare that theyíre taken seriously. And I saw a niche in the market. I think that if I was in New York Iíd be one of 500 people trying this, while here in London Iím maybe one in half a dozen.
RC: What other projects are racing around in your head?
RJ: I run a little production company and we're working on several things, including a show called Tick Tick Boom by the guy who wrote Rent. That could happen late this year or early next year. Thereís also a show called Elliott Ness in Cleveland that Iím working on with Hal Princeís office in New York. Heís only the biggest musical theatre director in the world and Iím helping his office assemble a production here in London. So itís thrilling. But as with all freelance jobs you canít predict too far into the future.
RC: Are there any pet projects?
RJ: Well the most unbelievable thing Iím working on is a musical based on Reanimator, which is one of the most fantastic horror films of the 80s. Itíll probably be incredibly bloody and violent, and I donít know of any other shows with someone that loses his head but still manages to come back and sing a few songs. So thatís been rumbling around in my head for years. Iíve assembled the most amazing composer and lyricist team that theyíre going to be huge stars when that show goes up. The goal is to try and do a big environmental production, not in a standard theatre but somewhere where the audience gets quite close and sprayed with blood. Itís not just to shock or titillate, itís to make people think, "This is the kind of lives we live, where weíre just so callous." Hopefully this show will kind of snap people out of that. Who knows? Weíll see. Itís my mission.