By Frankie Kujawa
Joy, love, heartache, strength, wisdom, catharsis, LIFE—everything you've been waiting to see in a Broadway show is an IRONIC gift just waiting to be unwrapped this December! JAGGED LITTLE PILL, the fearless musical based on Alanis Morissette’s world-changing music, is currently running through Sunday, December 18th at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre. Baltimore-native, Charles P. Way recently chatted about his excitement about returning to perform in his hometown of Charm City!
Frankie Kujawa: As a Baltimore-native, how does it feel to be back performing in your hometown?
Charles P. Way: To be honest, being back in my hometown is always a glorious feeling! This city is ground zero for the performer I am today. I’d performed all around the downtown area when I was growing up. Lexington Market -and the inner harbor were my favorite and most memorable venues. As someone who’s been fortunate enough to now perform in the same theater where I attended my first live concert, I cannot help but to see it as a kind of “Come to Jesus” moment. With some of the better known themes of this show, I am honored to be performing Jagged Little Pill here. I’ve always said that I wanted to use my God given talent to make a difference here in Baltimore; so this is a big one for me!
Frankie Kujawa: What can audiences expect from this production of Jagged Little Pill?
Charles P. Way: From this production of Jagged Little Pill, audiences should expect to see a show that gives them a chance to be both entertained while simultaneously experiencing honest and true moments of introspection.
Frankie Kujawa: Could you describe your different role(s) as a swing in the production?
Charles P. Way: As a swing for this show, it gives me a multitude of opportunities to tell stories that someone may need to hear/see to know that they are not alone. Whether they be my own, or someone else’s entirely, I am a servant to the story. In fact, while performing, I often consider myself a mirror, reflecting the image of the world I see back on itself. For example, when playing Dani, I access a part of myself that I’ve struggled with my whole life; continuing to be secure in myself while growing up gay in the black community that sees black boys with effeminate qualities as a weakness, and therefor the subject of much scrutiny. However, while playing Mary Jane’s doctor, I tap into the strong black man who bares the weight of dismantling stereotypes by educating others on drugs, and the telltale signs of addiction. While I may not be a doctor off-stage, both of these people exist in me, and I know there are others who look like me, who face and have faced similar challenges in their lifetime.
Frankie Kujawa: If you could give advice to others who are growing up in Baltimore and want to pursue their dream/passion to be a performer, or even your younger-self, what would you say?
Charles P. Way: If I could give my younger-self or any young person advice who wants to pursue their dream of becoming a performer, it would be, "It will be difficult, but not impossible!" You have to decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it! Don’t worry about what anyone else has to say, especially if it doesn’t feed your passion for the future you see for yourself. There will be people who don’t want you to shine or see you win, but if you were born and believe you were meant to, don’t let ANYONE even try to steal your joy! Your worth is not defined by how others view you, but rather how you view others, as well as yourself. Be kind. Everything has a way of coming back around, including people. Trust!
Frankie Kujawa: In closing, why do you think the music of Alanis Morissette is so enduring?
Charles P. Way: In my opinion, Alanis Morissette's music is so enduring because she writes to the heart of the human experience. I asked her once, for whom do you write your music? As a singer/songwriter I was more than curious to know. She almost without hesitation, said that she writes selfishly 100% for herself, but once it is shared, it is to be interpreted however it is to be interpreted, but doesn’t mean that she won’t write something dialogical that is macrocosm. After explaining further, I took from that to mean that she writes to the human experience that is being alive. You can write about a situation that is so specific to the moment it is written, and then by broadening the lens and asking the self what might this mean to another person with a completely different vantage point on the same subject/situation. All in all, I say that to say, her music is so enduring because it is able to be interpreted almost infinitely.
For more information on Jagged Little Pill, please visit: www.ticketmaster.com/artist/2867226?venueId=172363