As a singer-actor who came to New York to pursue a career in musical theater just a short time ago, Ben Marcus is well aware that there are many who don’t make it. He also knows there are some who do.
“There are tens of thousands of other people just like me,” said Ben, who will have been in New York a year in November.
“It’s intimidating at first,” he said, noting the constant need to “put yourself out in front of people” such as casting directors, and the vast competition among performers to snag a coveted role.
“But you can still involve yourself pretty easily if you’re willing to do the hard work,” said Ben. “You get out of it what you’re willing to put into it.”
It was Ben’s willingness to come in and read for the role of Sheriff Bedford in “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” during a second set of auditions – despite not being tapped for the first auditioning round -- that helped land him the part. That, and his outstanding baritone voice.
Good singers were especially being sought for the upcoming production on Oct. 22, and Ben easily passed muster.
“Singing is my first and foremost pursuit,” said Ben, who didn’t perform in his first musical until his last year of college. He played the role of Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. “I loved it,” he said.
Ben was not new to the enjoyment of singing, however. He had sung in high school and college choruses, and always sang as a youngster. At age 12 he began to train diligently for his bar mitzvah, and family members attending that rite of passage marveled about his singing. He started taking voice lessons shortly afterward.
Ben's voice will be among those highlighted in the song“Make It Like It Was Before” for the Oct. 22 production. In that scene he takes on a second role, that of Mr. Richards. It is a part that came became open for him when the original actor took ill. Ben shares the role's lines with Lisa Dennett (see right). Ben will perform the part for the 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows.
Ben earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in economics from Boston University. Before moving to New York, he performed onstage at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. Productions in which he was cast include Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate and Wonderful Town.
"It's really all about the music for me," said Ben, adding that he especially enjoys performing in revivals. "The music [in classic musicals] is the greatest stuff, regardless of how old it is."
His favorite musical comedy is The Producers, while "on the dramatic opera side" he is enamored of Porgy and Bess.
"It's music you can't stop listening to," Ben said about the Gershwin classic. "It's spawned so many covers -- jazz versions and others." It's a work that he constantly listens to, he said. "You have it on repeat."
Other favorite composers are Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Sheldon Harrick.
As he begins to carve out his career in musical theater, Ben said he doesn't necessarily seek out leading-man roles.
"I've always been a big fan of character actors -- with great, big baritone voices," he said, adding, "I've always been a big fan of Danny Burstein's work."
Other actors he admires are Paul Giamatti and James Gandolfini.
"I'm a huge fan of actors whose work redefines what it means to be a leading man,"