Actor, 18, Born and raised in LA.
Interviewed by Noah Lee Jordan
January 27, 2011
“I definitely don’t feel famous,” says Coby Getzug. He’s explaining to me the feeling of emerging from the stage door to find almost a hundred people screaming, snapping photos and vying for a signature from him. “For a minute I was like who am I?”
The 18- year- old actor found his passion for stage at the age of eight. “The first show that I remember really resonating with me was The Lion King, and after that I went home and I told my mom I wanted to do theatre.” And so it began, after pursuing theatre primarily on a community level, Getzug decided it was time to take his new found passion a little more seriously and transferred to the L.A. County School for the Performing Arts his sophomore year. Some may think performing arts high schools are like the movie, FAME, full of students who are all more focused on becoming famous than actually learning, which can be true, but unlike this stereotype Getzug admits that he was really into school. Even after finding an agent, he spent more time doing school work than actually auditioning.
Getzug stepped into the role of Moritz Stiefel – the sad, soulful, sleepy headed friend of Melchior — far before rehearsals for the final national tour of Spring Awakening began. After waiting in the wings, understudying for the Broadway revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs and spending a little time on stage with Chris Pine in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Getzug was prepped and ready for the spotlight.
Fast forward, Getzug is in New York touring colleges when his agent calls with news of Spring Awakening auditions. “When I went in to audition, I was near the end of the casting. It was my first audition but some people were on their third or fourth callback.” After being called back for not one but two roles, Getzug was offered the role of a lifetime.
“I don’t remember if I connected with Moritz specifically but I know I definitely connected with the show and the material as a whole. Going into the audition experience I wasn’t sure what part I would be considered for or even what part I really wanted to be considered for, but I got called back for both Moritz and Ernst. In retrospect I think Moritz is actually the best fit for me because having the role now I really see the connections between him and me,” says Getzug.
“The moment I got cast, I was worried they (his family) would be upset about me postponing college for a year”, he admits. “But from day one everyone was 100% supportive.”
As he talks, Getzug exudes a likeability factor that makes it easy to see just why he stood out among the crowd. Even just talking to him over the phone, he feels engaging and I wish I could hire him for something. Of course it wouldn’t be as glamorous as his current gig.
At eighteen, the success Getzug is feeling could easily go to one’s head, making him cocky and overbearing but deep down he’s just like everyone else. When he’s not rocking out on stage, he’s kicking back like everyone else. “While on tour, I do a lot of eating and sleeping. Outside of that… (Pauses)…I like reading and music but it’s been so long since I’ve had free time. (Laughs)”
The Spring Awakening tour may only be on the move for so long but Getzug thinks it will continue to survive the test of time. “I think the original script was relevant then, it was relevant when it was on Broadway, it is still relevant and it will continue to be relevant to infinity and beyond. (Laughs) Hopefully Disney© won’t sue me for using that.”
With such a young, energetic cast – how close are you all?
When we started I was worried, I went to a performing arts school so I knew how theatre kids could be. But luckily this group gets along so well and everyone is so supportive of each other. We are all just so excited to be a part of something so amazing. Plus, we are touring in such small confines that if we didn’t like each other it would be miserable. (Laughs)
I mean I still pinch myself every day. I’m living such a charmed life right now, touring the country, being a part of such an amazing show. I’m excited to take this show to places that have not experienced anything of this nature.
Do you have a favorite part of the show?
I really look forward to the song “And Then There Were None”. For all of Act One, my character is nervous, timid and confused or frustrated but then I get to break out and become a rock star. Me, myself, I am far from a rock star but then I get to pull out this a microphone stand, the other guys join in and it becomes this giant cluster of energy on stage that I think the audience can really feel.
This tour is pretty much the final hoorah for Spring Awakening, do you stay true to the original character John Gallagher Jr. created or do you fight to put your own stamp on the role?
I saw Gallagher on Broadway and he was unbelievable. So I definitely respect and admire everything he put into the role. During the rehearsal process I had the opportunity to really try some new things and infuse myself into the role. Now I use Gallagher as the base but I’ve tried to expand on that and really make it my own.
In rehearsal our director, Lucy Skilbeck, really impressed upon us that when we pull out those microphones we are no longer our characters but we are ourselves going through the same circumstances. So for a moment I am no longer Moritz but I am Coby looking through the lens of Moritz and really connecting with the material.
Spring Awakening was a huge success on Broadway, especially with the younger, newer theatre fans. Do you think the content in the show (abortion, masturbation, suicide, etc.) fits the audiences Spring Awakening continues to entice?
I feel like the issues presented in the original story are very relevant and will remain relevant over time. I think it’s a great experience for people, especially kids and teens, to come and see these German kids going through the same thing that they are going through. Both kids and parents can come to the show and find connections within it. It’s racy, it’s different and it definitely turns a lot of heads but it’s not at all gratuitous. All the issues presented are presented tastefully.
At first we were concerned with taking the show to smaller areas that can be considered more conservative but now, I actually look forward to performing in those places and not necessarily blowing their minds but exposing them to something so powerful.
How do you think the altitude will affect your performance and rest habits?
Funny, because we had a break in December and started up again in January in Salt Lake City, UT which isn’t as high as Denver but we definitely felt it.
While we were in Beaver Creek, which is actually higher than Denver, I ended up having to miss the performance. We had oxygen on the side of the stage for the cast and they definitely had to use it, but now I’m prepared. I know I really need rest more but I think I will be able to keep up in Denver.
Teen suicide has been a major issue over the past few months in America. Your character ultimately makes the same choice; do you have any words of wisdom or advice for teens that find they are feeling that way?
There is a huge campaign going out with the motto “You Are Not Alone”, so the biggest thing would be, you are not alone. I don’t personally know but I think a lot of people, teens especially, feel they have no one to talk to or nobody understands. There are always people and places to turn, which means there are always other options.
My character in the show lived in a time when there weren’t many options but now the circumstances are completely different. There are hotlines and so many outlets. There are people out there that want to help and are willing to listen.