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Interview with Douglas Storm

Doug joined the cast with the new version in October, `98. He plays Leggett, the Bounder who says, "Did he say fight? As in fight the French?" Doug has great facial expressions on stage and adds considerably to the nonsense in "The Creation of Man."

NR: Where did you grow up?

DS: St. Louis, Missouri.

NR: I understand your mom is a piano teacher?

DS: Yeah, my mom is a piano teacher. That's kind of how I got into all this. Instead of Little League and stuff, she was teaching me piano and music. I did community theater and I started doing professional theater when I was ten at the St. Louis Muni. I did Hans Christian Anderson and later on that year, I did what was at that point the longest running Equity show in St. Louis. It was The Sound of Music. Peter Palmer, who was the original Little Abner, was our Captain Von Trapp. Then we had a lot of great people. There was a lot of regional theater in St. Louis awhile ago - good theater. I did commercial work. I did McDonald's commercials as a kid, Parker Brothers commercials - all of this stuff filmed out of St. Louis, but then it just all kind of dried up.

Later I started singing with the St. Louis Symphony. I started doing classical work. My mother would say, "This theater is great but I don't want him to be one of these theater brats." She's definitely not a stage mother. I started doing symphony work. I started doing work as a boy soprano. After doing a couple of solo gigs with them at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, they allowed me to come into the Symphony Chorus as a child in the soprano section. This had never been done before, and has never been done since. I stayed there till my voice changed and I started growing up and basically getting away from it all. High school hit and I said, "Enough's enough - forget it - see ya." Then high school was done and I sort of floundered around and didn't know what I was going to do. I thought about being a disc jockey so I was working at a couple of radio stations. I was interning at a classic rock station in St. Louis and I was deejaying weddings and proms. Then, Les Miz came through town. My friend dragged me to it kicking and screaming. I'd heard the music. I'd listen to Terry (Mann) singing "Stars" over and over and over again. I loved that song but I didn't really listen to much more of it. We went to go see it and I was just floored. I said, "OK, there's my direction. This is what I need to be doing." So, I went back to the Symphony and I said, "Listen, I want to come back. I want to start singing again." They said, "You're in." They checked my vocal type and put me in the tenor section. I sang with them for about a year and we came here to sing at Carnegie Hall, where I understudied one of the soloists. They really said, "You've got to stay here. This is where it is."

NR: "Here" meaning New York?

DS: Yes, once we were here and I sang at Carnegie Hall. I was about 22 at the time. I remember going back to the hotel and I just sat there on the bed, almost in tears, looking at my parents, and I said, "Look, I've got to stay here. I don't even want to go home." This was before Christmas. I said, "I'm afraid if I don't stay here now, I'll just end up in St. Louis not doing anything with my life." That year for Christmas, my parents gave me the best gift I've ever gotten. They said, "We will help you move to New York. We will setup an apartment. The first six months there, any classes you want to take, and your rent, that sort of thing, is on us. Your second six months is a loan and it will be paid back when you get your first big job." Well, four months in the city, I wasn't in the union. I didn't know which way was up. I was taking some classes down at HB Studios. I didn't see anything in "Backstage" for Les Miz and that was really all I wanted to do. So, I just got fed up and I wrote them a letter. I just wrote them a letter and I said, "Listen, I've only been here four months and I really want to be in your show. I'm not in the union or anything like that. Could I please have an audition?" I dropped it off by hand at about five o'clock at night at the Cameron Mackintosh office and another one at their publicists' office and the next morning I got a phone call saying "Can you come in tomorrow?" So, I went in the day after that and sang "Anthem" because I didn't really know any musical theater songs but I'd read in "The Making of Les Miserables" that Colm Wilkinson had gone in and sang "Anthem" from Chess. I also sang "Giants in the Sky" from Into the Woods. They were loving me and everything. I left the audition high on life and I didn't hear anything for a couple of months, so I thought I must have blown it. I talked to the people like Tim Shew. Anybody with a Les Miz cast jacket I would stop on the street. Now people do it to me with my Pimpernel jacket, which is really kind of cool. So, I always try to be really nice to anybody who ever stops me because I remember when I was doing that. At any rate, all the people I would talk to would say, "Listen, I had to audition so many times."

Then I saw in "Backstage" that the casting director and the producer were giving a "How to audition" seminar, so I thought, "I'm going to take that seminar so that the next time I go in to audition, I'm going to know better what to do." Well, the first day of the seminar, Richard J. Alexander said, "I'm sorry to be taking up class time folks. I kind of know Doug here. As a matter of fact, I'm ready to give him a job - he just doesn't know it yet."

NR: Wow! That's incredible!

DS: He said it in front of the whole class. Everybody was just amazed - me too. I almost fell on the floor. So, for the next six weeks of this class, I was the example. It was crazy pressure because one time I got up and I sang "Maria" from West Side Story and I FORGOT THE WORDS. There's only one word in the song! I don't know what I was singing. I think it was "Cindy...Mary...Jenny...Julie." After it was all over I thought for sure he was never going to hire me now and I just felt like the biggest fool. He stood up and he said, "You see - that's the sign of a true professional. He just kept on going even though he forgot the words!"

Well, the class was over and I got a letter from him saying, "I meant what I said. You're going to have a job. We just have to wait for the right position to open up." Almost a year to the date after I had my first audition I got the phone call which said, "You're going to go out on the tour and you're going to understudy Enjolras." To top it all off, my first performance as Enjolras was in Springfield, Missouri, three hours away from my home town.

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Interview conducted and photographs by Nancy Rosati.

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