Grey matters 

Brought in to keep some of the spotlight on FAC theater affairs, Joel Grey shares insight

click to enlarge Joel Grey
  • Joel Grey

Joel Grey wouldn't reveal exactly what he hopes to speak about at the Fine Arts Center's Extremely Grand Opening on Saturday. And his background certainly doesn't give anything away.

He might best be known for his Tony- and Academy Award-winning performances as the Master of Ceremonies in the original Broadway and film incarnations of the musical Cabaret. And, surely, if you watch even the slightest amount of television, you'll recognize his face this past year, he starred in guest spots on both FOX's medical drama House and ABC's family-centric Brothers & Sisters. He's also currently writing his autobiography and, as if that weren't enough, the 75-year-old is a budding photographer.

This extensive rsum made him a logical choice by the FAC to re-christen SaGaJi Theatre during re-opening ceremonies. (Its renovations are almost two years old now.)

He spoke with the Indy about all of these things, and more:

Indy: You've never been to Colorado Springs, let alone the FAC. How'd you end up on the docket for the grand opening?

JG: The reason that I was invited was that I have another career as a photographer, and I have my second book out, and my second show. It's something that is really taking up a great deal of my creative energy and my interest. I'm spending a lot of time at it. I'm excited about it; it has nothing to do with my performing career. I've always taken photographs, all of my life. I'm a photographer collector and a photography lover, but I never thought of myself as having a career in that field. And I've always been so admiring of the art of photography.

Indy: With Broadway credits like Cabaret, Chicago and Wicked to your name, one thing you can certainly attest to is the importance of a proper opening. How does a stage opening compare to that of a museum?

JG: What happens is that, all of a sudden, it puts whatever it is that you're doing into the spotlight and in a large way, where it gets a lot of attention. And then that spreads to people being interested in going and checking it out themselves. And the same with a Broadway show: If they read a lot of publicity, people going to the openings and a review, all of a sudden, there's a spark in people to want to see it.

And I think that will be the same in this circumstance. It's an event, that's the deal. It's an event, and very often stage openings are events too, especially in our society now, which is so publicity-oriented.

Indy: Have you seen a great deal in change in how publicity works over the span of your career?

JG: Probably on a global level. It was always such in the theater. It was always the way in which a play got either celebrated or panned and closed in four days or was taken to another level and everyone wants to see it and it was sold out.

I actually have been very lucky; I'm kind of working on an autobiography, and I realized in the looking back at the work that I've done, I've never been in something that closed ... immediately. I've been spared that. I've been in things that didn't necessarily run for as long. But never an out-and-out flop.

Indy: So what's the secret?

JG: There is none. It's a lot of luck. pete@csindy.com

Joel Grey

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center SaGaJi Theatre, 30 W. Dale St.

Saturday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $45 to $49; visit csfineartscenter.org. (A separate reception with Grey, which will be held after this lecture, costs $30-$34 to attend.)


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