Q&A: Josh Groban of ‘Josh Groban’s Great Big Radio City Show’

John Groban, photo by Andrew Eccles

This February, Josh Groban will debut his one-of-a-kind residency, Josh Groban’s Great Big Radio City Show, at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall. The concerts will begin on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2020 with additional shows on April 18, 2020, June 20th, 2020 and Sept. 26, 2020. One dollar from every ticket sold goes to Groban’s Find Your Light foundation, which is devoted to helping children experience a quality arts education. A Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-nominee, Groban stars in this new show that spotlights his performing career, and will feature special guest stars. The shows will be somewhat spontaneous, with audience requests and duets. No two shows will be the same, making each evening a unique experience.

A multitalented singer, songwriter, musician and actor, Groban has recorded eight studio albums. His most recent album, Bridges, contains duets with Andrea Bocelli, Sarah McLachlan and Jennifer Nettles. Groban has appeared in the feature films Crazy, Stupid, Love; The Hollars; Coffee Town and Muppets Most Wanted.  On TV, he has been in The Good Cop, The Office, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Crazy Ones. He made a big splash on Broadway in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including a nomination for Groban. Groban also released his first coffee table book, Stage to Stage: My Journey to Broadway, which chronicles two years of his life on Broadway in The Great Comet. He recently attended New York Stage & Film’s annual Winter Gala, which celebrates 35 years of service to nurturing artists and their shows. Groban paid tribute to six-time Tony Award-nominated producer and philanthropist Diana DiMenna, who was being honored.

You were so wonderful in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Are you coming back to Broadway perform in a musical?
Josh Groban:
I would love to come back to Broadway. There are no plans right this minute, but in my head I’m thinking 2022, 2023. I would like to come back?

What is your dream role? Is there one you are aching to do?
JG: I was very spoiled by Dave Malloy. (Malloy composed Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, and was the brainchild behind the show.) It was really fun to bring a new piece to Broadway. If something new of that level came about, I would love to do that. For something that is not new, I would do anything for Stephen Sondheim. He’s God to me, and I would love to do something of his.

You’re too young to do Sweeney now. But maybe someday?
JG:
Maybe one day.

What was the first Broadway show you ever saw?
JG:
Actually, the first musical I ever saw was Cats when I was nine years old. I saw it in Los Angeles, where I grew up. I had been very spoiled living in Los Angeles. We get a lot of incredible shows in LA. Many of the Broadway shows eventually tour there, and we have had some incredible casts.

Speaking of Sweeney, the first Broadway show I ever saw was The Diary of Anne Frank with George Hearn, who played one of the Sweeneys in the original production of Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Natalie Portman played Anne Frank. It was a beautiful onstage portrayal. It was my first time visiting New York, and I had come to audition for colleges. My dad took me to see it.

There is something about the Broadway community. There’s the Broadway energy. There’s a level of talent on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. You would be hard-pressed to find a bad performance in this city anywhere. There is an incredible standard that many of the actors have here. Going into Broadway myself was very scary, but everyone welcomed me.

After you perform on stage in a show like The Great Comet, which is bursting with energy and nonstop, how do you come down and get back to Josh?
JG: It’s an emotional rollercoaster every night, eight times a week. You have to find ways to wind down. Honestly, for me, I would come home, have a salad for dinner and play video games. I would find a way to shut down my brain and do something silly and stupid. I was so focused and immersed in hitting such a deep emotional place. I needed to play Angry Birds, or something like Candy Crush, just to find a way to get out of it.

Is there something you wish you could tell your younger self, or the kid who was just starting his career?
JG: I would tell myself to relax a little more, and enjoy the process. People are thrown into this business. There is a lot of good that comes with it. But there is also a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and immaturity. They don’t prepare you for so much of it. They don’t say, “Here’s a record deal and a shrink.” They just say, “Here is al this pressure and all the things that come with it.” So I think I would go back and warn my younger self of some of the traps. And I would slow down time, and try to enjoy it, because it goes very, very quickly.

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