Aaron Lazar: playing Dad

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Wednesday December 5, 2018
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It's been 18 years since Aaron Lazar last passed through San Francisco on a Broadway tour. He's in Dear Evan Hansen at the Curran through December 30, and has a solo engagement at Feinstein's at the Nikko on December 17.

In Hansen, Lazar plays Larry Murphy, whose son and daughter are both deeply entangled with the titular character. The only adult male in the ensemble, Larry is a relatively small part, but one that comes with a powerful second act song ("To Break In A Glove") that underscores the importance of caring male role models in young men's lives.

For half of each week when he's at home, Lazar is a single dad to two sons of his own, ages seven and nine.

Luckily, Hansen rehearsals and the tour's first month-long engagement have been in Los Angeles, allowing him to maintain a relatively regular schedule with the boys before hitting the road at an admittedly touchy time.

"Brotherly-love-wise, they're right at that age where they've been pounding on each other, " says Lazar, " I just got them boxing gloves and we've all been taking lessons together, so hopefully that'll redirect some of their energy."

Among the sweetest memories Lazar will take with him on the road is the Los Angeles opening of Hansen. "It's the first time the boys have been old enough to come to the opening of one of my shows, which felt so special."

Shortly afterward, his elder son introduced Lazar to a school friend, saying, "This is my dad. He's one of the most famous people in the world."

It's been 18 years since Aaron Lazar last passed through San Francisco on a Broadway tour. A whippersnapper in the role of a swashbuckler, he played the Orpheum here in April 2000, understudying the lead role in Frank Wildhorn's The Scarlet Pimpernel, his first big job out of conservatory.

The New Jersey-born actor, currently based in Los Angeles, returns to the Bay Area under very different circumstances.

Both offstage and on, in Dear Evan Hansen at the Curran through December 30, and a solo engagement at Feinstein's at the Nikko on December 17. Lazar has grown into the role of a devoted and somewhat anxious dad.

As it happens, Lazar recently spent the better part of 18 months with some of the most famous people in the world. He's the stand-in for Benedict Cumberbatch in the Avengers: Infinity War and its follow-up, which shot concurrently in Los Angeles.

"As an actor, you hesitate to do a job like that," says Lazar. "But I had never worked on a $500 million movie and figured it was an opportunity to learn a lot working with great people like Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Pratt while staying close to home. They were shooting for a year and a half, so individual actors have to leave and travel for other commitments. When Benedict was away, I was Doctor Strange, the full costume and everything."

That's quite a change of pace for an actor accustomed to romantic music theater roles in the likes of Les Miserables, A Little Night Music, and The Light in the Piazza, all of which he's played on Broadway, where he's worked steadily for most of his career. Through the years, he's also developed a significant side career singing with orchestras and performing solo concerts of show tunes like his upcoming Feinstein's gig.

Embarking on his first theater tour in nearly two decades, Lazar says the nature of road show life has been significantly changed by technology.

"Now we have a dedicated app for the touring company that we can use to check in, arrange housing, everything. We have a company Uber account so we don't need to worry about transportation in the cities we play. I mean, we didn't even use the Internet when I was in The Scarlet Pimpernel."

Technology will also make it easier for him to have more substantive contact with his boys from the road. As online amenities have made touring better, Lazar says that being on the Hansen tour will make his solo gigs better.

"Normally, when I do my cabaret show, it's just me and a pianist. But now a bunch of guys from the touring orchestra will be playing with me. We've worked out charts for a full combo. It's going to be super cool."

Aaron Lazar performs 'From Broadway to Hollywood' at Feinstein's at the Nikko, 222 Mason St. Monday, 12/17, 7 pm. $24.50-$55. ($20 food/drink min.) www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com