Q&A

Head Over Heels Star Jeremy Kushnier Admits He’s ‘Terrible’ at Auditions, Even Worse at Making Coffee

09.26.18

BY: JORDI LIPPE-MCGRAW

Whether you’re a major star or just breaking into the business, every Broadway actor has to audition for a role. So, you’d think after over 20 years in the industry and securing lead parts, Jeremy Kushnier would be a pro at it, right? Well, according to the Head Over Heels star, he’s the worst. “I am a terrible auditioner,” he told Broadway Spin. “You’ve got three minutes to prove yourself in that room, and it’s horrifying. I get so nervous.”

The Head Over Heels company. Photo: Joan Marcus.

The Head Over Heels company. Photo: Joan Marcus.

In fact, although he’s landed roles in Footloose, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour, Kushnier revealed he still has to try hard to overcome his nerves. “I have worked with my therapist to get me to a place of calm and understand that that room is just another performance,” said the Canadian-born actor. “I breathe and meditate before an audition. It’s hard to remind yourself that you’re great, that you have gotten to this point already, and this is just another stage.”

While Kushnier proved he has staying power in the industry, he admitted that it’s still a tough gig. “It’s really hard,” he said. “I just focus on continuing to get hired. This is my 20th year here in the city. When I first got here, I am a lead in a new Broadway show, that is how it works. So, from now on, I just keep doing this. It’s an ever-long struggle.”

Rachel York as Queen Gynecia and Jeremy Kushnier as King Basilius (center) and the company of Head Over Heels. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Asked why he chose such a demanding and challenging line of work, the Broadway vet joked that it’s because he’s not good at anything else. “I am terrible at everything,” said Kushnier. “If I literally couldn’t act, I probably would be a barista. But, even that I would get fired. I am terrible. I can’t count, and I don’t read. That’s why when I am in a show, I am so grateful for just the opportunity to get to do what I love to do in the city that I want to live in.”

The star keeps this attitude through all of his projects even if they aren’t widely received. For example, his recent show, Head Over Heels, is a total crowd-pleaser, but it didn’t exactly get consistent love from critics. “I don’t expect critics to give every show a glowing review, otherwise what is the point,” he said. “But, I think there is something to be said for just trashing a show. I think that angriness, bitterness, and drama sell more papers. Why can’t critics look at it from a positive point-of-view? Our show is not for everybody. But, it is for so many people.”

Bonnie Milligan as Pamela (center) with Tanya Haglund, Samantha Pollino, Ari Groover and Amber Ardolino. Photo: Joan Marcus.

At the end of the day, whether the critics like his show or not, Kushnier is on stage for the audience. “There is a certain amount of responsibility that I feel,” he said. “You are somebody’s holiday; you’re somebody’s birthday wish; you’re somebody’s anniversary gift. When you remind yourself of those things, then it becomes easier actually to do our job.”

Head Over Heels is playing at the Hudson Theatre and tickets are in play through Broadway Roulette.