5-minute interview with………..Jeff Brooks
You looked like you had a ball playing Cheech. How much fun was it to play the likable gangster?
This character is one of the most interesting I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. His journey throughout the piece is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting to watch. Of course, I’m biased. Cheech changes the most of any of the characters in the story, which is always fun for an audience member to watch. I’ve had the opportunity to play more “Runyon-Esque” gangsters before but Cheech has a life-like quality about him. He’s truly a dangerous individual that’s surrounded by a world that he knows nothing about, and eventually he finds a way to succeed in it, to some degree.
Your character was very knowledgeable about writing. He knows more than David. How do you explain your character’s gift for words?
If you asked Cheech if he were knowledgeable about writing, he’d tell you that he never cared much for books and learning in school, as David Shayne did. Everything that makes Cheech’s writing so profound is directly linked to his lifestyle. He understands how real life works and he knows how real people talk. He doesn’t try to speak with a voice that isn’t his own. That quality is what makes his writing more believable and more natural.
Did you fashion Cheech after real life criminals or was it all you and natural charisma that brought him to life?
Cheech is an amalgamation of crooks I’ve had the opportunity to play in the past (Like I said, I’ve had my fair share of Runyonland). But the best part about Cheech is that he’s a real guy, complete with flaws. I wanted him to be real before anything else. Before a song-and-dance man, before the “Broadway Musical Gangster”, he had to be at his core a killer and a brute, a man who wouldn’t compromise for anything. From that jumping off point, natural flavors like charisma can flow freely and be believable.
Do you think people misunderstand Cheech’s swagger?
Not in the least. He has his own twisted brand of humor and wit, but the job always comes first. That’s what makes him so good at what he does, be it murder or playwriting. He can be a charming guy. Just not when he’s working…
What do you have coming up after the tour ends?
As far as the next project, there are a few things in the mix that haven’t come fully to fruition yet, but the ball is always rolling forward. The show schedule can be found at bulletsoverbroadway.com. Facebook,www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=510849133, is always a good way to keep up with me.