2015 Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Nominee: Will Porter as Pinocchio in North Shore Music Theatre's "Shrek: The Musical"

Before we announce our 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Winners, we are proud to present our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series. 

Photo Credit: Ted Ely

Photo Credit: Ted Ely

NOTE: If you were nominated for a 2015 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com.

Will Porter dazzled and danced his way into our hearts as the wooden toy who just wanted to be a real boy, and lamented his fate as a Fairy Tale Creature as Pinocchio in North Shore Music Theatre's Shrek: The Musical.  His range, strong character choices, vibrant energy, and dancing feet earned him a Best Supporting Actor in a Musical nomination. 

Hello, Will, and thank you for interviewing with us. Can you start by telling our readers a bit more about yourself and your work?

Hi, guys!  First of all, thank you for having me!

Me:  I grew up in Acton, Massachusetts, training at the Acton School of Ballet.  I graduated from Muhlenberg College with a double major in Theatre and Dance, and now I live in New York – where there are no Red Sox.

My work:  I am an actor, singer, and dancer, often at the same time.  As a performer with Stage 4 ADHD, I feel at home in the world of musical/physical comedy. I find myself sympathizing with those odd-ball characters with a short fuze who have to break out into song or else they will explode.  Some people tell me that I remind them of Martin Short. 

How did you become involved in North Shore Music Theatres Shrek: The Musical?  Do you remember what you sang for your auditions?  Did you read for Pinocchio?

It was an exciting journey.  I had performed with Mara Newbery Greer (our choreographer) in back-to-back productions of Cats and Spamalot at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.  She encouraged me to come to the open dance call for North Shore Music Theatre’s Shrek: The Musical

From there, the team asked me to come back and read/sing for Pinocchio.  I remember being really nervous, so I would keep funny things in my backpack to make me laugh - a wig, a Barbie. 

Pinocchio (Will Porter*) laments his life in North Shore Music Theatre's Shrek: The Musical (Photo Credit: Paul Lyden) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

Pinocchio (Will Porter*) laments his life in North Shore Music Theatre's Shrek: The Musical (Photo Credit: Paul Lyden) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association).

I sang the theme song from Pokémon at my final callback.

What makes you laugh?  Cry?

Laugh:  A good, old-fashioned stage slap.

Cry:  Thinking about the SAT, or any standardized test.

What is your favorite fairy tale?  Disney movie?  Why?

Does The Hobbit count as a fairy tale?  If not, I would seriously choose Pinocchio.  He's such a happy puppet, and makes terrible choices in adorable lederhosen. 

Hocus Pocus is the best Disney movie . . . period!  ::bangs gavel::

What is your day like during a production run (rehearsals and/or performance)?  What is it like during audition season?  How do you fill your days?

During a production, I am a big fan of ice baths, massages, vocal rest, sleep, steam, my foam roller, knitting, and gym time.

Audition season is just pure madness: dance classes, coaching audition material regularly, making sure I'm working out and eating right, and balancing all of this with my survival jobs and scheduling auditions!  Everything frequently conflicts.  You have to constantly think three steps ahead.  You have to go to bed early, and you have to wake up early.  It's also helpful to have something spiritually/mentally grounding, like yoga or a therapist.  A loving, supportive tribe of friends is essential.  Coffee is the lifeblood.

What scares you the most about performing?  What excites you?

I often question: "Have I done enough to prepare for THIS moment?"  This is what scares me the most about performing.  Have I put in enough work?  Can I sustain my performance and keep it consistent?  The truth is there's always more work to be done, and there's always something to improve – finding the confidence to say, "Yes, I am enough," is a challenge, but vitally important. 

The unknown excites me!  The indefinable moment between two people onstage where you both know the lines, and yet each moment is filled with our own individual thoughts, feelings, our lives offstage.  Layered on top of that is the experience of a live audience.  At North Shore Music Theatre, they are all around you.  We are biologically different with every breath we take, so each moment actors share onstage, while adhering to the vision of the playwright and director, is inherently different. 

Who is your favorite Disney princess?  Prince?  Why?

When I worked for Disney, one of my jobs was to host meet and greets for the Princesses - or “Princess Gatherings.” My favorite Princess to greet was Snow White.  Her energy is always at a 10, she loves baking Gooseberry Pie, and don't it twisted - she's the boss. I guess you have to be when you live with seven jewel-mining bachelors. 

As for the princes, Prince Phillip is a lyric baritone, he can slay dragons with a single sword, and wears black tights and a very handsome cape. And he can dance. 

Pinocchio (Will Porter*) and other Fairy Tale Creatures sing "I Believe" in North Shore Music Theatre's Shrek: The Musical (Photo Credit: Paul Lyden) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association). 

Pinocchio (Will Porter*) and other Fairy Tale Creatures sing "I Believe" in North Shore Music Theatre's Shrek: The Musical (Photo Credit: Paul Lyden) (* Denotes a Member of Actors' Equity Association). 

If you could play any role for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?  Would you have any ideal co-stars?

Definitely Applegate in Damn Yankees.  I love the music, I love villains, and it's a Fosse show!!! As for co-stars, Leslie Margherita would play Gloria, my dear friend Tory Trowbridge would play Lola, Ellen Degeneres as Meg, Tom Hanks as Joe Boyd, and Nick Jonas will play Joe Hardy.  The Senators would either be played by Muppets, or real Senators.

Did you have a nickname growing up?  If so, what?  How did you get this nickname?

Will & Grace was a revolutionary television show in so many ways.  Thanks to Karen Walker, most of my friends started calling me "Wilma" in high school.  And they still do! 

Two truths and lie. Go!

OKAY...

- I was asked to portray a terrorist during a routine Crew Safety Drill aboard Disney Cruise Line, and four deck hands tackled me to the ground because they thought it was real!

- I almost flunked gym in seventh grade.

- I am currently playing Carole King in Beautiful: The Musical on Broadway.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Up next, I will be performing in "Turn The Beat Around" at Feinstein's/54 Below – celebrating the disco legacy of Studio 54.  Aside from that, audition season is in full swing, and I should probably start my taxes before April 1st . . .

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

I have the Greater Boston arts community to thank for making such a wide range of theatre and dance performance available to me growing up; I still remember seeing shows at North Shore Music Theatre when I was in high school.  Having the amazing opportunity to play Pinocchio at NSMT last summer felt like giving back to the community that fostered me, and I hope we passed along the spark to the next generation. What a dream come true! Thank you, ArtsImpulse!