Photos from IMDB.com except where noted.
Meet Broadway’s newest star – Christopher J. Hanke. In his short career, he’s performed in stage productions of “The Full Monty,” “Rent,” “Hair” and “Cry-Baby” and he’s currently co-starring in one of the biggest Broadway hits of 2011, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The musical revival features Christopher J. Hanke as the menacing bad guy Bud Frump acting along side Tony Winner John Larroquette and Daniel Radcliffe. He’s won rave reviews for his performance and he is poised to become Broadway’s next superstar. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask the megastar in the making a few questions and as you read on, if you haven’t already fallen in love with Christopher J. Hanke, you will by the end of this article.
According2G: How do you prepare for performing in front of a live audience each night? Do you have any rituals/totems/good luck charms?
Christopher J. Hanke: I arrive at the theater about an hour before the show starts. By rule, we have to be there no later than a half hour, which is 30 minutes before curtain, but the more time in the theater, in my dressing room prior to a show, the more relaxed I am. A pre-show shower to wipe off my day is a must, as is my pre-show meal, eaten in my dressing room. Something smallish and usually healthy. I warm up and steam my voice. Actually not in that order, steam first, then warm up. I don’t have a good luck charm but I do have a planters rock from my one and only waiter job in NYC that sits at my dressing room table. It reminds me that when things get tough at work, I need to remember I could always be waiting tables.
A2G: What’s the first thing you do when you get off stage?
CJH: Drink! Water! Relax. Every time I come offstage, Josh, my dresser, is there with my very cold metallic blue water bottle. I’m constantly hydrating my vocal chords and muscles. And the end of the show, the first thing I do is get undressed and head to my post-show shower, to wipe away the play and come home clean!
A2G: Can you share an interesting fan experience?
CJH: Hmmm. So many to choose from. I have awesome fans I know that. They send me the most clever, inspiring fan mail/gifts. My favorite so far has been this DVD that two girls from out west made me. It was like they had their own talk show and ate snacks while they were doing it. I don’t know if that was intended to be humorous but it was to me. I’ve watched it over and over. I’m gonna actually reach out to them soon and thank them.
A2G: How is Bud Frump like you? (and/or different than you)?
CJH: Great question, Geoffrey. I don’t relate too much to Bud, but I do find his inner child to be the most forgiving quality about him. And I sometimes connect to my inner child at times, so that I understand. He is very different from me, though. Bud is not confident. Bud lives in fear of Finch and not getting ahead. I don’t. I am feel even keeled and go through life knowing what I have to offer and if that doesn’t work out in an audition or acting job, I am totally cool with it. Just means there is something perfect for me up ahead. Bud is also a whiner, complainer, manipulator–I would like to think I am different in those respects, too, although my parents might disagree…
A2G: What’s it like working with John Larroquette and Daniel Radcliffe?
CJH: John seems very quiet and reserved at first but secretly he is this supreme jokester. It has been a pleasure watching him tear up the stage with physical comedy–an eye look, a slouch, whatever gets a laugh. Daniel is in a word: classy. Wise beyond his years. Gracious to all those around him. And I love that I can make him break on stage with a simple gleam in my eye—he’s so easy!
A2G: Can you talk about what it’s like each night leaving the building and seeing the mania surrounding the screaming girls waiting and hoping to meet Daniel Radcliffe?
CJH: They are waiting for me, Geoffrey!!! (laughs out loud)
A2G: What do you do in your off time?
CJH: I am always extremely busy. I don’t find enough time to take care of basic things like paying bills, grocery shopping, errands….I work out 6 out of 7 days to stay in shape for the show. I go to voice lessons each week, auditions, meetings–those things all fill up my days. I also have a secret design project I am working on that takes up my days as well. Nights post shows are reserved for meeting friends for a drink or resting my voice at home watching the news. I love NIGHTLINE & AC360.
A2G: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you love Mexican food. As you spend time in both LA and New York, can you tell us some of your favorite places to get some good guacamole?
CJH: Rosa Mexicano in NYC. Table side. Freshest ingredients. Served with a side of frozen pomegranate margarita goodness.
A2G: What are your favorite (and least favorite) things about New York and Los Angeles?
CJH: I’m kind of jazzed about Los Angeles right now, although she and I are still in the early in love phase. I even like the traffic because it allows me to learn all the Top 40 songs. New York will always be my first love. The sexiness and sparkle NYC brings will always trump. But I hate schlepping all over the city with a backpack and not being able to swing by the grocery store and throw your bags in the back of the car….you know, normal stuff. I miss that about L.A.
A2G: What’s your workout routine? Any special diet?
CJH: I am a HUGE fan and currently obsessed with BARRY’S BOOTCAMP. There are NYC and LA locations. Do. Not. Miss. This.
A2G: Tell us a few of your guilty pleasures.
CJH: TV: Hoarders FOOD: queso dip (velveeta & rotel, y’all) DRINKS: Arriba Arriba (NYC) frozen MAMA margaritas—like 2,000 calories
A2G: What’s on your Ipod ?
CJH: Right now I am banging to Beyonce (p.s….where is the little line over that goes over the e on this keyboard?????) and her new album “4”. LOVE ON TOP is by far my favorite song. It’s like Stevie Wonder goodness. I play it in my dressing room before each show on endless loop. My castmates hate slash love me.
A2G: Who inspires you?
CJH: My friend Tom. He’s 13. He has Cerebral Palsy. He is more comfortable in his own skin than I could ever be. He is truly a hero. Plus he’s a wicked comedian.
A2G: If you weren’t an actor, what would you want to be doing?
CJH: Directing probably.
A2G: What’s your advice for how to succeed in business?
CJH: When in doubt, sing a showtune!