It’s been a very good year for ONE LIFE TO LIVE alum Corbin Bleu (ex-Jeffrey). Not only did the actor tie the knot over the summer, he is generating a lot of buzz in the new Broadway musical, Holiday Inn.
“[Married life] has been amazing,” Bleu declares. “It has been the coolest thing to be able to say ‘my wife’. We have been together for a long time, so it is one of those things, that as a relationship, is a new step. It is the step. It is so hard to describe and I am at a loss for words. I really am so emotional when I talk about it. At the heart of it all, I am really just happy. I am just so full of joy to say that I can spend the rest of my life with this incredible woman that I love so much.”
Bleu admits he had some jitters on the big day. “I did get nervous before the ceremony because I knew I was going to say my vows and I didn’t want to mess them up,” he recalls. His experience as an actor provided little comfort. “Obviously, I am a performer, I am onstage all the time. I speak in front of people all the time. This was so different. This wasn’t a performance. I really wanted to be so real and in the moment. I wanted every single word I was speaking to be something I was committing myself to for the rest of my life.”
His emotions got the best of him during the ceremony when he saw his bride, Sasha, coming his way. “The moment she walked out and she started walking down the aisle, my breath was literally taken away,” he shares. “I immediately began to well up and the universe went hazy around me. My peripheral vision just left and I could only see her. She was the most stunning, beautiful person I had ever seen in my whole life. I almost lost it in the middle of my vows, just crying, because I was just so happy.”
The weeks leading up to the nups were understandably hectic. Not only were there final touches to tend to, but Bleu was just starting production on Holiday Inn, and traveling from coast to coast. “I was in New York City five days before the wedding, while her family was staying at our house [in Los Angeles],” he recalls. “It was the first time her family was meeting my family. I was there for the initial meet, was there for another day, then had to fly to New York for the first read-through and was here for the first day of rehearsal. I flew back to California, did all of the last-minute details for the wedding and then two days later flew back here to New York City.”
In the production, based on the 1942 movie of the same name, Bleu plays Ted Hanover, the role previously played by Fred Astaire. “I have to tell you, I haven’t felt intimidated by it; it is more just inspired,” he reflects of following in the legendary Astaire’s footsteps. “When I watch him, there is just such an ease to everything he does.”
The role was offered to Bleu after he submitted a filmed audition. “I was in L.A. getting ready for my wedding, so it wasn’t even something I was going to come to New York for unless it was a really serious thing,” he explains. “I put myself on tape for it. The producers and the director really responded to my tape and they flew me to New York to come read for them in person. I got to read with Bryce [Pinkham, who is playing Jim] and that was amazing.”
Bleu is thrilled to have the chance to show off his moves in the musical, something he hasn’t been able to do in his previous professional stage performances. “I grew up tapping. I have never had the opportunity to do it on the Broadway stage. I played Usnavi in In The Heights, who is supposed to be a bad dancer. Then I played Jesus in Godspell who isn’t necessarily grooving in the middle of it a whole lot [laughs]. I threw [my tap shoes on], and it was like riding a bike; everything came back. All I wanted to do was stay in that dance studio and dance for the next couple of hours.”
The challenge of playing Ted, Bleu notes, is tackling the comedic element of the role. “I have always found, for me, that drama is easier,” he shrugs. “It is just the way my brain works, the way my emotions work. [Comedy] is about finding the timing and just letting go, finding the freedom. I am a very organized person and I think so much of comedy is that you are not in control.”
In Holiday Inn, Bleu has a big solo number, “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers”, which comes toward the end of the show. “It happens to be the Fourth of July, so Ted ends up improvising this entire scene with firecrackers,” he explains. “The performance in the film is just one of those things of legends. [Astaire] is just so smooth and just has so much swagger. It is just one of the coolest numbers.” Re-creating it onstage has been a daunting challenge. “There are a lot of technical elements. They are actually building firecrackers into the stage of Studio 54. They are going to be exploding out of the stage as I am tapping around them. It is the second to last number in the show and I do this huge workhorse number. My main concern is stamina and not have my train slow down in the middle of it.”
Bleu had the opportunity to explore his dramatic side on the reboot of OLTL, where he played enterprising journalist Jeffrey. “It was such a great cast and I really enjoyed working on it,” he praises. “I liked how they were modernizing it a bit. To this day, I come across people who say that they were enjoying watching the reboot and that they were sad when it was canceled. I was definitely disappointed that it didn’t last longer.” Especially since there was a big twist for Jeffrey in the finale. “I think that is also why I was upset. We had just finally revealed that he was a villain, and what is more fun than playing a villain?”
Bleu feels that working on the soap helped sharpen his skills as an actor. “I think everyone should have that opportunity to do a soap opera at some point in their life,” he says. “The amount of dialogue, every single day? I have always been very good at memorizing, but it is a new level on a soap opera. I think it is really rewarding when you watch your work and know you did it in one take.”
One of the bright spots of his Llanview experience was working with Erika Slezak (ex-Viki). “Erika is just an angel,” he raves. “The first day on set I remember I was having a wardrobe fitting. I hear a knock on the door and, ‘Is Corbin in there? It is Erika, I just want to come in and introduce myself.’ It was one of those things that when I look at her, I see a legend. I was expecting to go up to her, introduce myself and tell her how excited I was to be working with her. But she sought me out and that just really says a lot about who she is. She is so warm and caring and everyone on set loved her; every cast member, every crew member. She treated everyone with so much respect and love and she is so professional. She was just wonderful to work with and is just such a giving actress.”
A decade after making a splash in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, Bleu is very grateful to his fans who have followed him throughout his career. His message to them? “Thank you! I will continue to work hard to produce content you will enjoy.”
Holiday Inn is playing at Studio 54 through January 15, 2017. To purchase tickets visit: www.roundabouttheatre.org.
Just The Facts
Birthday: February 21
Hails From: Brooklyn, NY
The Marrying Kind: Wed Sasha Clements on July 23, 2016
Pet Set: “We have a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix named Gigi. Sasha has been wanting a Pomeranian. She is obsessed with them.”
Must-See TV: “GAME OF THRONES, hands down, is my favorite show. The cast is amazing. I have always been a fantasy lover. That whole world that has been created is very intriguing to watch. I [also like] STRANGER THINGS. I am a big horror fan.”
Remember When? Bleu shot to tween superstardom as Chad Danforth in Disney’s 2006 smash, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.