Since the origin of the role of Michael Mell in be coolerwowing fans in regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the series, and garnering millions of hits for her deeply felt and deeply touching rendition of “Michael in the bathroom” on Youtube, George Salazar has been a constant and much-loved presence on stage, screen and digital media, as well as in the recording studio.
In addition to his famous award-winning role in be coolerSalazar’s musical theater credits include the 2011 revival of divine spell (his Broadway debut), the revival of Off-Broadway’s Drama Desk Award tick, tick. . . BOOM! and The Lightning Thief: The Musical by Percy Jackson (for which he received a Drama Desk nomination), the second national tour of spring awakeningand regional productions of Broadway bounty hunter (in its premiere at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA) and Little Shop of Horrors (at California’s Pasadena Playhouse in 2019), and more. Her rich, expressive voice can be heard on a number of these cast recordings, as well as albums by The Jonathan Larson Project and Two player gamewhich he performed in sold-out cabaret acts at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Among the actor’s notable TV appearances was his recent recurring role as Eric Sosa on the NBC comedy series Hypermarketand during the pandemic shutdown of performance venues, his virtual presence was felt through his digital series Sundays on the sofa with Georgeas Agent Maxwell Fernsby on The Broadway Podcast Network’s Hilarious Soap Podcast As the curtain risesand in a number of special online appearances, including The Seth Concert Series with Seth Rudetsky and Stonewall Inn Safe Space Concert earlier this week.
Later this month, he and his longtime friend and collaborator Joe Iconis will reopen Feinstein/54 below after the pandemic shutdown of fifteen months, with a new incarnation of their popular cabaret concert Two player game, airing six high-demand shows from June 17-24, 7 p.m. I was thrilled to be able to catch up with George (on the phone, not in the bathroom) from LA, before he returned to New York for rehearsals and the highly anticipated race.
- What was your reaction when you saw that tickets for Two player game sell out immediately?
George: This was very good news after fourteen months locked up in my house, wondering if anyone would even remember us! It was a kiss on the cheek and a hug we hadn’t had in a long time.
- What do you love most about returning to your home away from home at Feinstein’s/54 Below?
Being in a truly intimate space; share art in such a close space. With the ticket price and minimal food and drink, we know everyone spending money really wants to be there, and I’m glad to look them in the eye.
- What is the most fabulous thing about working with the fabulous Joe Iconis?
Joe is one of the most confident collaborators I’ve ever worked with, and I think I’m confident too. We almost read each other’s minds and take care of each other, so I always feel safe and cared for with him. When artists feel safe, they do their best.
- What’s the most memorable response you’ve ever received from an audience member?
After the show of our first series of Two player game, we would meet for two hours in the elevator bank with the public. A child came up and said he had a lot to say, so they would move to the back of the line rather than hold up the others. When they stood up to us, along with their parents, they asked them to leave while we were talking. They told us about their mental health journey, in and out of hospital for self-harm cases, but then discovered the be cooler album, which made them feel good about who they are and unapologetically be themselves. What more could you ask for as an artist? It helped me find my purpose: to create and empower.
- Since you had to play the role of your Seymour dreams in Little Shop of Horrorsis there another role or show that is now at the top of your to-do list?
Yes! I want to do Sunday in the park with George that bad ! I did this my senior year of college and had nothing to do at that age, but now I’m older and have experience in acting and the intricacies of juggling between art and life.
- Are you more Seymour, Michael Mell or Maxwell Fernsby in real life?
I think I’m a good mix of Seymour and Michael. I’m nothing like Maxwell, which is why I had so much fun playing him, but I’m a healthy mix of the other two.
- What’s your all-time favorite song to sing – the one you can’t get enough of singing?
“Song of the Brown Buffalo” by Joe Iconis, The Unauthorized Musical by Hunter S. Thompson. It is an out of body experience; when I sing it, I feel like I’m possessed by Oscar Acosta, who the song is about.
- What’s your all-time favorite song to listen to – the one someone else performs?
Jason SweetTooth Williams doing “The Goodbye Song” from be cooler. I could literally listen to it every day and never get tired of it.
- Now that you live in Los Angeles, what do you miss most about New York?
I miss being able to sing anywhere and anytime with Joe Iconis and the family. In 2019 he did a Lincoln Center American songbook concert and I couldn’t come back to sing with him. I watched it online and cried through it all – when family is what I miss the most.
- How would you describe yourself in three words?
Organized, tidy/neat and motivated.
- If you had a carnivorous plant, what would you call it?
Audrey III. I drive a black Jeep and I named her Audrey.
- Do you always wear your pants when you do podcasts and no one can see you?
Yes! Hahahahahahaha. From the start of the pandemic, I refused to be a meme.
- If someone wrote a sit-com about your life, what would it be called?
Left turnbecause my whole life and career has been a series of failures – it’s just a happy accident!
- What about live theatre?
Spontaneity, magic; Yeah. As a spectator and actor, it is the honor and the privilege to be part of this evening which will never happen again. You could try to recreate it, but why? It’s forever just this moment; It is special.
- What do you love most about being famous?
I really don’t consider myself famous; Beyoncé is famous. But I will say that I am happy when people like my work. It makes my parents proud; they have sacrificed so much. My dad works at a theme park in Florida, and we have the same name. When people hear that, they ask if he’s related to me, and he proudly says, “He’s my son. It makes him happy, and it makes me happy that he’s so proud of me.
Thank you, George, for taking the time to speak, and especially for your incredible talent and all the exceptional entertainment and compassion you provide. It’s always a pleasure.
Two player game plays June 17-24, 2021, at Feinstein’s / 54 Below, 254 West 54and Street, Cellar, NYC. To check ticket availability, go to in line.