Born in Maplewood, NJ, Steven Pasquale landed a part in his high school’s production of Fame after an injury took him off the football team, and he never looked back. “Every night [co-star] Kelli [O'Hara] and I try to remember that singing this kind of stuff just doesn’t happen very often, so we try to love every second of it,” he says of Jason Robert Brown’s emotional whirlwind of a score for The Bridges of Madison County. “Jason’s score is the best musical theater score since Adam Guettel’s Light In the Piazza,” the actor states simply and definitively (Pasquale would have played the lead in that show if it wasn’t for his commitment to the television series Rescue Me on which he was a regular for seven years). Pasquale is a man of few words during our phone conversation, which he squeezed in between dinner and taking the stage one recent night. If he’s guarded with details, there’s no shortage of effusive words he has for Brown, O’Hara and the rest of the creative team. “I think they’re all extraordinary, and I would do anything with them.”
He has learned to compartmentalize the grand sweeping emotions required to play characters like the dashing freelance photographer in Bridges, who steals more than a few shots of old bridges while on assignment in a small Midwestern town. “I can turn it on and off pretty successfully. I know a lot of actors get swept into the roles they’re playing. Granted it’s a show about love and there’s a lot of joy in it, but I’ve played creepy awful people in my life and that has crept into me occasionally.” When asked if he’s a romantic, he bluntly says “sure” … with a qualifier. “Depends on the day. New York City is the most romantic city on earth so it’s kind of hard not to be swept up in that once in a while.” Here, Pasquale recounts a day in the life of being a lead actor on Broadway.
I typically go to bed super late like 2am because you’re wired from performing, so ideally, I like to get eight to nine hours. I’m on a very strict fitness regiment with this role, so for me it’s all about making sure I have the proper ingredients to make my green smoothie with fruits and veggies from Whole Foods before heading to the gym.
I have a vegan protein shake after my workout at Equinox or Hot Yoga. I try to change up my workouts. Never the same two days in a row. Hit different muscle groups on different days. And work in as much hot yoga, cardio, walking, biking, etc as I can as added exercise. 60-75 minutes is a quality workout for me. It’s all diet. 90% diet at least.
I’ll do a light healthy lunch usually a salad. There’s a vegan joint on 9th I like and if I’m in Midtown, it’s usually Blossom.
In the afternoon, lately, we’ve been doing a lot of press for the show. Interviews and phoners and singing around town. If I have free time, I like to catch up on some binge television watching. Recently, it’s been House of Cards. I’m all caught up. It’s amazingly good. I don’t have a lot of free time, so it took about a week to get through the whole season. It’s so fun when you have a few hours to get more than one episode out of the way.
I arrive at the theater. If the weather’s nice, I like to ride my bike up from my place in Tribeca. Otherwise, I’ll take the subway. I like to read a newspaper and have a coffee in my dressing room. I read the Times every day. I’m finding the whole Vladimir Putin thing pretty gripping/psycho.
I start my pre-show warm up. It’s about 45 minutes of stretching. I try to get the blood flow in a cardio situation. I warm my whole body up, and then a brief vocal warm up usually takes about ten minutes for me. If I didn’t have time to go to the gym earlier in the day, I can squeeze in a workout at the theater. I have all the stuff I need in my dressing room, which I fitted with a chin up bar and a bunch of workout bands, mats etc.
Time for the show. Kelli and I are singing so much of the time, there aren’t really any breaks. When we’re not onstage we’re changing clothes for the next scene.
If friends come to the show, it’s fun to go out for a drink or two afterwards, but it all depends on how taxed my voice is from all the singing. Near the theater, I love to go to Bocca di Bacco, Becco and Joe Allen. I was recently out with [In the Heights composer] Lin-Manuel Miranda and [The Glass Menagerie actress] Celia Keenan-Bolger. It’s a particularly fun hang when you think your friends are actual geniuses. I have a cheat day on my day off when I allow myself to eat whatever I want because I’m very strict for the rest of the week. I try to incorporate some kind of pasta into that, and Becco has the best pasta in Midtown. I get the (unlimited) taster. I can’t finish more then a plate and a half but that’s plenty. I’m full for like 12 hours afterwards.
I put on a little music, read and then go to bed. My new Pandora obsession is Edith Piaf. I’m currently reading the novel New York by Edward Rutherfurd. I’m obsessed with the history of New York. It’s the most interesting place on earth.