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Omaha
 

The Book of Mormon - National Tour

A new musical from the creators of South Park and Avenue Q.

Star Nic Rouleau on Playing a 'Lovable Douchebag' and Finding the Heart in The Book of Mormon

Star Nic Rouleau on Playing a 'Lovable Douchebag' and Finding the Heart in  The Book of Mormon
Nic Rouleau and the national tour cast of 'The Book of Mormon'
'One of the great things about the show is that it’s a chance to really cheer people up.'

After starring in The Book of Mormon on Broadway and in Chicago, Nic Rouleau is heading out on his next mission with the Tony-winning show—across America. The San Francisco native is reprising his role as Elder Price in the second national touring production of The Book of Mormon. He made his Broadway debut in the hilarious musical as a standby before getting bumped up to the starring role fulltime, then reprised his performance for Mormon’s 10-month run in Chicago. After two years of ringing doorbells, the star says he hasn’t had nearly enough. 

You’re coming off a long run in Chicago. What is it like to be taking Mormon across the country now?
It’s a great experience. It’s one that I’ve wanted to have since I started the show back in New York. The first national tour has had such great success with its audiences, so I think everyone can kind of take a breather. We don’t have to be as nervous as we were when the show first started.

How has this show changed for you with each step you’ve taken with it?
It’s been crazy. I started off as [original star] Andrew Rannells’ standby; it was my first Broadway show and my first big job. I was so excited and tried to learn everything I could. Then when I took over for Andrew, it was such a whirlwind. The show really sunk in for me when I got to rehearse with the Chicago company. That was the first chance that I got to make the role my own and start from scratch. It gave me the chance to find my version of Elder Price. I’m excited now to do the same thing on tour and get new audiences and new experiences.

How much did you know about the Mormon religion before you joined the show?
A year before I joined Mormon, I had been on the road with Legally Blonde playing Emmett. Nikki Bohne, who played Elle opposite me, was a Mormon. I picked up a lot from her, so I knew the basic gist of everything. When I was auditioning for The Book of Mormon, she was a big help and a good sport. She read passages from the actual Book of Mormon to me on the subway to my final audition for the show. [Laughs] She likes to take credit for getting me the job.

How are you like Elder Price...or not?
I attended a private Catholic school for 13 years and went to church every week, so I definitely relate to Elder Price in that I had a wholesome upbringing. I was definitely a goodie two-shoes growing up; I never used a single swear word until I moved to New York City for college. But I will say, Elder Price is kind of a douchebag. He’s a little bit of a dick and that’s really where the difference between us comes in. That’s the hardest aspect of the role. He’s kind of an ass to everybody, especially to Elder Cunningham, but the audience still has to like him. That’s the big struggle with Elder Price—finding a lovable douchebag.

The comedy of Mormon usually gets the spotlight, but it also has a gorgeous score. What is it like singing these songs?
I have to pinch myself that I get to sing a song like “I Believe” every night. I think it is one of the best songs written in the most recent history for musical theater. I’ve always loved [co-composer] Bobby Lopez. When I was in college, I listened to Avenue Q all the time; his music just speaks to me. The fact that the score pays homage to all these other musicals like The Sound of Music and Wicked is even more brilliant. [Co-composers Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Lopez] basically handed “You And Me (But Mostly Me)” to [co-orchestrator] Stephen Oremus and said, “Can you Wicked the shit out of this?” and he was like, “I can!” The score is absolutely beautiful. “Baptize Me” is one of my favorite songs, hands down. Comedy aside, I think the whole score is spot on. There’s not a bad song.

This show is so cheerful and upbeat; I imagine performing it would rip you out of any funk. Is that true?
Oh, you disappear out of that funk in 10 seconds. People ask me how I have done the show night after night for so long. I can tell you, I’ve been doing it for two years now and I am not tired yet. It’s just such a fun show to do every night. We’re so spoiled with our audiences. When you have two thousand people laughing and cheering you on, it’s hard to be in a bad mood.

What has surprised you most about Mormon?
The heart of the show has surprised me the most and from what I hear, it’s what other people are most surprised by as well. People come expecting to see this really funny, crude off-beat show, but I don’t think they expect it to come together with such a nice message—and it does. People think we’re just going to make fun of Mormons for two and a half hours. We definitely poke fun, but we poke fun at everybody. At the end of the day, the message really is pro faith. It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something and hold onto that.

What do you hope audiences leave with after experiencing the show?
One of the great things about the show is that it’s a chance to really cheer people up. Especially in a time when they might not be having the best day or times might be hard, it’s two and a half hours of your life where you can just sit back, relax, forget about your struggles and just have a good time and really laugh. 

See Rouleau in The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum Theater from October 12 through 20.