Jason Gotay goes cabaret: 'Gossip Girl' and 'Spider-Man' star gets musically vulnerable

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023
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Jason Gotay
Jason Gotay

"I was a girly boy," explained Jason Gotay, an ache in his sweet, reedy tenor as he shared stories of growing up, coming out and finding a sense of self in musical theater during his solo cabaret show, "Where You'll Find Me," which had a brief, three-night run at Manhattan's Minetta Lane Theatre last fall.

Gotay, who makes his San Francisco debut at Feinstein's at the Nikko this weekend on January 13 and 14, played to just a few hundred audience members at the Minetta Lane, but his vulnerable recollections are now available to a much broader audience than performers typically have the opportunity to reach with a cabaret act.

It's now an audience that includes legions of present-day girly boys who live far from New York, are years too young to attend a nightclub, but stand to benefit the most from hearing Gotay's stories of being bullied and building confidence.

Jason Gotay  

"Where You'll Find Me," with music including surprisingly fresh, tender takes on 'Over The Rainbow,' 'All I've Ever Known' from "Hadestown," and 'When You've Got It, Flaunt It' from "The Producers," is one of a select few cabaret shows produced and recorded live by Audible, Inc. for online sale (Others include "An Evening with Amber Iman" from the star of the recent Berkeley Rep smash "Goddess," and "Legal Immigrant" by gay favorite Alan Cumming).

Gotay, 33, whose Broadway parts have included the title role in the infamous "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" and who last year won his widest recognition playing a gay high school teacher involved with one of his students in the "Gossip Girl" reboot from HBO Max, views the Audible production as a rare opportunity.

"I've played many different characters," said the Brooklyn native in a recent phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, "But being given the chance to tell my own story on stage and have it distributed so widely was amazing."

The stage and his life do mix, as Gotay recently married fellow actor Michael Hartung after meeting on the set of "Peter Pan Live!" as Lost Boys.

There is a bit of a downside for Gotay, though. "That show belongs to Audible now," he said. "I'm not allowed to do the same act live on the road."

Bummer for him, but a boon for Bay Area audiences who now have the opportunity to catch Gotay performing two different cabaret sets (albeit one via recording) in short order.

"It's going to be a different show," he said. "I'll pull in some of the theater music I did in 'Where You'll Find Me' but I'll also do my spin on songs by some well-known pop artists I like: Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, Harry Styles."

While Feinstein's marks his local cabaret debut, Gotay has performed in the Bay Area twice before: On a 2011 pre-Broadway tour in the original cast of "Bring It On: The Musical" (with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda); and originating the role of Ramses in the world premier of Steven Schwartz's "Prince of Egypt" at Silicon Valley Theatreworks.

Creating new characters in new shows is one of Gotay's favorite aspects of his career.

"I do a lot of readings and workshops of new material," he explained. "You never know whether any individual project is going to take off, but the chance to build a role from scratch, collaborating with the creative team is such a valuable experience no matter what."

Over the past few months, Gotay has performed in readings of a musical take on "A Wrinkle In Time" and a new show called "Teeth" by Pulitzer-winning "A Strange Loop" composer Michael R. Jackson. Gotay says he's also on the lookout for opportunities to play queer roles.

"'Gossip Girl' was my first major gay part on a big platform. It was a scandalous storyline, but it got me some significant recognition in the business. I went right from that to playing a small gay part in 'Spoiler Alert.' I'm always going to be looking for quality queer stories that I can be a part of."

Jason Gotay at Feinstein's at the Nikko, Jan. 13-14, 8pm. $55. 222 Mason St. (866) 663-1063. www.feinsteinssf.com

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