Batter Up! This summer the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is headed to the baseball diamond with Damn Yankees. When aging baseball fanatic Joe Boyd sells his soul to the Devil for the chance to lead his favorite team, the Washington Senators, against the New York Yankees for the pennant, he is transformed into star slugger Joe Hardy.
But before the first pitch is thrown or the first fun is scored cast member Thay Floyd, who plays Joe Hardy, sat down with me to discuss his career, the life of a theatre gypsy and his role in Damn Yankees.
How did you first become interested in theatre?
I started when I was around three years old. We did this pre-school Mickey Mouse show and from that moment on, the stage/performing was always a draw. On the day of the show, there are pictures of me with all the other kids in their nice khakis and button down shirts. I opted for a three piece, powder blue suit! Just adorable. =)
Every performer has that moment where it just “clicks” and they know performing is what they want to do for a living. What was that moment for you?
The moment above sort of started the ball rolling, but the more I did it, the more I loved it! Growing up, in school I was in all the various choirs: Show Choir, Chorale (which is half the size of the regular choir, with harder more complex, chamber style music), as well as performing in the drama club and then rehearsing for community theater afterwards. All of that immersion lead me to a high school experience defined by the arts. Main stage musicals, contemporary plays, All-West/ All-State for both theatre and music, traveling children’s theatre shows, etc. After high school, I continued my studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, earning a BFA in theatre. I got my first “professional” job right after graduation in a regional production of Chicago. The rest (as they say) is history.
You have done Broadway, regional theater and tours. What do you like about the gypsy like lifestyle being a working actor provides? What do you dislike?
It’s an amazing and very cost effective way to see the world. On the road, all you have to worry about, really, is the show. No rent, no apt/house upkeep, no car maintenance. Just the show. So a typical day might be spent taking in the local culture, then you do your show. And after which, one might check out some of the nightlife happenings around town. Throw in some recommended eateries and a nap or two, and there you have it. If you’re in a city that you love, it can feel like a paid vacation!
The down side is that all of your belongings must fit in a suitcase and a carry on. It can also get a little lonely and very tiresome constantly changing locations; never really calling one place “home” for very long. But with the amount of time you spend together, the cast and crew quickly emerge as your new family (sibling frustrations and disagreements included). It is with this bond and support that you learn that ‘home’ is wherever you make it.
You play Joe Hardy, how would you describe your character?
Joe Hardy is an all-American good guy. He has solid morals and would be considered a good citizen of society. He’s not perfect by any means, as he does fall to the temptation of pursuing just how green the grass is on the other side. But even that is a very American/human trait: always wanting more, never really appreciating what you have till it’s gone.
What do you hope the audience takes away from Damn Yankees?
With so much glorious music, fantastic dancing, and cheeky knee-slapper lines, I mainly hope the audience will leave entertained. There are also several moments where people may see a reflection of themselves to explore. However, mine is not to tell you what to feel but, rather, to simply create and let your own discoveries be experienced.
Damn Yankees runs through June 28 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul. For more information the show and to get tickets visit the Ordway’s website.