Al Roker is burning his proverbial candle at both ends performing in the hit musical Waitress while he continues to host Today. Roker plays Old Joe, lovable yet tell-it-like-it-is owner of Old Joe’s Pie Diner, in the Sara Bareilles-penned love story. Broadway Spin caught up with the Renaissance man to see how he was juggling it all – without messing up his lines – on the Great White Way.
Broadway Spin: What is it like for you to make your Broadway debut? And what went through your mind when you were asked?
Al Roker: I thought, obviously, there must be another Al Roker! Forget about a Broadway musical. I have never been in a stage play. I wasn’t even in a school play. The closest I came was doing the stage crew in high school. Just the thought of knowing your marks and remembering lines was a little overwhelming. For almost 45 years I have basically ad-libbed. I don’t follow a script. And here words have to be a certain order.
BS: Was there any hesitation to say yes, then?
AR: At first I was going to turn it down. But I saw the show with my daughter who had graduated from LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (aka the “Fame” school), and she said “No, Dad, you can do this. You should do this. How many times is somebody going to ask you be on Broadway?” People say, “This must be a dream for you.” I say “no,” because I never thought about it. It’s more than I could have imagined.
BS: We heard that you’re gunning to play King George in Hamilton.
AR: I figure, I may as well dream big! It’s a fun role. They have never had a black King George… so, what the heck?(!) The beauty is you have to put on a certain air to play the King. But unless Lin-Manuel Miranda has lost his mind, I don’t think that is going to happen.