Duckart brings heart to both his “Kevin” as well as the “Others”
Nick Duckart has sung with Ricky Martin, and worked on televisions shows like The Blacklist, but his role as one of the “Kevins” in Broadway’s Come From Away may be one of his most intimate roles yet. This musical tells the story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them.
As one-half of one of the LGBT characters in the production, Duckart brings heart to both his “Kevin” as well as the “Others” he and his castmates are asked to portray. As the show rolled into Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, I caught up with Duckart to talk about getting what he considers his “big break” with this show, some of the famed faces he’s gotten to work closely with, and as his career is poised to skyrocket, what is on his vision board right now.
What is it like to be part of a show like Come From Away? It’s such a big show that showcases such an important topic and in such a unique way?
Nick Duckart: It’s really a dream come true; people say that a lot, but it’s my first real big-budget Broadway gig, I have never had a gig like this before. It’s like checking something off my list if you will. What makes it more special is that it is this particular show. As a fan of the show, you know that you are watching something very special that was incredibly moving, and would be very influential for a long time. Hearing the audiences’ reaction every night you know that you are a part of something special. I am just honored to be one of the 18 performers in our show to get to tell this beautiful story of humanity and kindness. I feel like we are almost doing a public service for North America right now.
What story does your role, in particular, tell in Come From Away?
ND: I play Kevin Jay and others. You will notice the “and others,” we all actually have “and others” at the end of our character descriptions, because we are representing 17,000 stories. My primary role is Kevin Jay; I am one-half of the Kevins, a gay couple that is part of the stranded passengers in Gander Newfoundland. You kind of see their journey as a couple and as individuals coping with the September 11th attacks in very different ways.
So take me back, when did you realize that performing was going to be your true passion and you would follow it? Was it something that hit when you were younger?
ND: I did not do my first play until I was a sophomore in high school. Frankly, I took a drama class because it was easy. I didn’t think I would have any sort of aspirations as a younger actor (laughs). It was not until I went to go see Rent on Broadway on my first trip to New York that it changed.
I remember being so into it, and how cool the show was, I had never heard of a Broadway score that type of music before. I also saw people not much older than me doing this real kick-ass rock musical. It was so moving and I cried at the end, all of the things that you wanted to feel. It was like, okay this is it, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna be on a Broadway stage. I want to do shows like Rent, this is what I am gonna do for the rest of my life.
From television, not stage, you have done a plethora of different styles of roles. If you had to pick one, what do you think you get the most back from as a performer?
ND: I think without question its musical theater. You can not replace the reaction, the communication between performers and a live audience. The energy that you get every night from that live audience is what makes doing a show like this so special. I mean, we get to go out of a stage door every night and hear people’s 9/11 stories, and relate and talk to them and get to know them in a way that is not just fandom if you will. It is not that. It is an expression of mutual gratitude for each other that we get to have every night, and then to be able to tell this particular story every night beats doing a take of something on a TV show and not touching it again. The money on TV is fantastic and if you’re doing a popular TV show millions of eyes will see it, but then you don’t get to revisit it every night, which we do. That is a great privilege.
In New Jersey and all over the East Coast, we were so affected by 09/11, as you were.
ND: You know, sometimes it gets a little more difficult than others, depending on what story you are hearing. Particularly, when people come up to us and say that they lost someone on one of the planes or in one of the buildings, that really just sticks with you. You want to give them a big hug and let them know that we are all together on this; it can be tough. I will say, more than anything, the reactions that we get are from people thanking us for telling a different 9/11 story, that way they can tell their children a different 9/11 narrative. We get people hugging us and thanking us for simply spreading kindness the way that our show does. Reminding people of the human capacity for kindness is something that separates us from living in the sadness of what happened on September 11th.
You have gotten to work on some really prominent shows and work with amazing people. Is there anyone that you got to work with that almost put you into “fan” mode?
ND: Yes! My two experiences like that are when I shot my episode of Burn Notice on USA; I got to work with Bruce Campbell. I was a big Living Dead fan. For me, it was like “wow that’s Bruce Campbell”! He was so cool and was the nicest man. He did not take himself too seriously; I really appreciated my time with him. I once sang background vocals for Ricky Martin, and we did a recording session in his house on Miami Beach.
I remember walking into the house, and him coming into the room and I could not believe I was in the same room as Ricky Martin. That is usually not the case when you are recording background vocals. He was so gracious and so fun. I could not believe how nice he was. We all sang the song together in the booth, and it was like “I cannot believe I am singing in the booth with Ricky Martin!” What impressed me more about him was his kindness; he was just such a kind man!
What’s on your vision board of something you want to accomplish, and where you want to take your career?
ND: This is my big break with Come From Away, so what I am hoping is that jobs like this will continue, and I can find work in high profile jobs, Broadway-style shows. Being on Broadway is always a goal for me. And being a recurring character on a TV show, being in a feature film, these are things that are always on the horizon for me, and a desire I have. I just got married and my direct vision board is after being away from my wife for two years, sleeping in my own bed after two years. It was two years of beautiful work, but I will be grateful to sleep in my own bed after a while!
What would you tell the performer that stepped onto the stage of Come From Away for the first time?
ND: I would tell myself, relax and trust yourself. Initially, because this was my big break, I had a feeling of “I don’t belong here” for a very short period of time. It has been an incredible journey, and I would tell myself, “Nick, calm down, you belong here and you are part of a great family, and you are doing an incredible thing. It’s all gonna be okay’ have fun”!
Grab Tickets at kimmelcenter.org/events-and-tickets