With decades of experience on the stage, Tony nominees Raúl Esparza and Norm Lewis have plenty to reflect upon in Eddie Shapiro’s new book A Wonderful Guy: Conversations with the Great Men of Musical Theater. In an exclusive roundtable, the stars sit down with Shapiro again for a video interview above.
Together, Esparza and Lewis discuss which roles they’d like to re-examine, what they learned from working with Stephen Sondheim, and how it feels to be interviewed in-depth (hint: it’s awkward, but also kind of flattering.)
In addition, the pair discuss what changes they hope to see in the industry landscape when theatres reopen, including more equity and accessibility. “We are clamoring and hungering for each other to get back together, but there’s going to be a whole new thing that we’re going to have to deal with once we [return],” says Lewis, referring to the past year in which the industry suffered a global theatre shutdown, faced a social justice reckoning, and demanded accountability for abuse of power.
“There is a great deal of gratitude involved in the thought of coming back at all. Live performance is an extraordinary privilege and gift. It goes both ways; it feeds the audience and cast members alike to create that moment...but absolutely nothing will be the same,” adds Esparza.
A Wonderful Guy features intimate, career-encompassing conversations with 19 leading men. In addition to Esparza and Lewis, the book features interviews with Gavin Creel, Jonathan Groff, Cheyenne Jackson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more, as they explore what it means to be a leading player on Broadway in the past 50 years. The book is available now from Oxford University Press.
Looking for more books to read? Check out our Spring 2021 guide.