By Remy Sisk | Arts & Entertainment
From playing the suavest scarecrow in the Emerald City in “Wicked” to portraying a gay songwriter on the television show “Nashville,” Kyle Dean Massey’s career has seen him tackle some extremely distinguished roles. Other characters he’s most known for on the Broadway landscape include a vision of a dead teenager in “Next to Normal” and a prince with a yearning heart in “Pippin.” But despite these very unique – and very different – roles, Massey’s commitment to the performing arts and dedication to his craft have allowed him to not only be versatile enough to realize each of these characters with ease but also deliver absolutely stunning performances in every facet of his indeed multifaceted career. Interested audiences will be able to get a taste of his extraordinary talent when the actor brings his solo show to The Cabaret in Indianapolis on July 28.
“I think when you are auditioning for roles,” he says, “you have to connect with the character in such an exact way to be able to actually get the job that really it’s before you get the job that you have that moment of ‘clicking’ with that role.” Transitioning from “Wicked” to “Next to Normal” back to “Wicked” to “Pippin” would be a challenge for any actor, but by immersing himself into each of these characters, Massey was able to navigate each of their nuances and shape them all into genuinely astounding performances.
“That’s kind of the lovely thing about theatre is that you do get eight shows a week to perfect these performances,” he maintains, “where you get to try it again the next night and sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of times, so you kind of get do-overs and redos where you get to hone your performance and make them very fleshed-out, full, real people.”
Beyond Broadway, Massey reached an entirely new audience when he appeared on “Nashville” as Kevin Bicks, a gay love interest for Will Lexington. “Nashville,” in its very structure, is something of a more hetero-oriented show – its focus on country music, straight relationships and the American South lends itself to a format that perhaps would not welcome an LGBTQ character; however, it did just that not only with the principle character of Will but then to a new level with the introduction of Massey’s character – who was in every way “normal,” a move with a significance that was not lost on Massey.
“We were hoping that my character would be just a normal dude – just a normal guy with a normal job who just happens to be gay,” he relates. “And that was the thing – because I think so many times on TV and in movies, you know, they have the gay character and it’s this very flamboyant sometimes comic relief kind of presence on the show or the movie – so that was the thing: Gay people are just like normal people and they have normal jobs and do normal things and they just happen to love different people.”
Being an advocate for positive change is not something that’s new to Massey as he has a history of philanthropy, being a constant advocate for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Trevor Project. And whereas nonprofit involvement may be more of an afterthought for others in his industry, for him it’s a focus.
“That the best thing about having any kind of small following on social media or any kind of platform where you can stand on a stage and make appeals to people who are there right in front of you,” he affirms. “It’s using any kind of fame you may have for good or for something that is close to your heart – that’s honestly the best thing about all of this. And even in the small kind of ways that we do it, you realize from letters and emails that it really does change people’s lives and it really does affect people in a very positive and real way.”
Connecting with his fans is without question important to Massey – in both his philanthropy and his performance. For his show at The Cabaret on July 28, he looks forward to truly sharing an evening with those in attendance and authentically engaging with them. “It’s just a very intimate evening with me and singing songs that either I love to sing or have never gotten to sing before and kind of the stories that go beyond them,” he describes of the show. “So it’s not just me sitting on a stool and singing songs – it’s talking about why the song is important to me, why it has a place in life, what it means to me. I hope that people find it funny and touching, and hopefully they hear some songs that they love, some songs from Broadway shows that I’ve done and maybe some songs that they’ve never heard before that hopefully they enjoy after hearing the setup of it all.”
It’s clear that his show at The Cabaret will indubitably be a very special and unique affair, but what’s even more clear is that Kyle Dean Massey is not just a Broadway actor who crisscrosses the globe singing songs and performing in musicals; he is an actor and vocalist dedicated not only to bringing to life the extraordinary depth of his characters but also infusing his performances with energy, connection and heart that are unequivocally distinct. From Fiyero in “Wicked” to Kevin on “Nashville” and everyone in between, these people have become a part of him, and his astoundingly ardent assurance that each and every one is realized to his fullest potential elevates Massey to a position of true eminence in the world of musical theatre that is utterly resplendent. VT
Kyle Dean Massey
The Cabaret, Indianapolis