Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Nick Ley Listens to His Audience

October 21st, 2016

Nick Ley

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment opened last Friday. As soon as the cast came out to take their bow, the entire audience sprung to their feet to give the talented actors the standing ovation they so rightly deserved. Nick Ley’s performance was praised by both critics and audiences as he spent the evening playing more than 20 separate characters in the show. During rehearsals, Nick was generous enough to take some time to answer some questions for us about his work on this fun-filled production.

1. As someone who is new to working at ICT,  how has your experience been?

This is my first experience with ICT, yes.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled and pleased! This show is giving me my first few points towards my Equity membership and the professionalism is apparent.

2. This show obviously gives you the opportunity to play many characters. What kind of preparation outside of learning your lines did you undertake in preparing for your myriad of roles?

Preparing for all these roles requires extreme concentration and a lot of homework. In the maelstrom that is this show, it’s easy to blend these characters together. With advanced preparation, I can create fully fleshed out characters with specific wants and desires. That, coupled with accent work and physical characterization, help to create truly unique characters.

Nick Ley, Laurine Price and Jud Williford in SHIPWRECKED!

Nick Ley, Laurine Price and Jud Williford in SHIPWRECKED!

3. What other role(s) would you like to undertake?

Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Leo Bloom in The Producers and Prince Herbert in Spamalot.

4. Performing comedy in the theatre is a very difficult task to undertake. What do you think is the key to make an audience laugh?

Since I was young, I was a natural comedian. Comedic timing was something that always came easy to me. The Muppets were an extremely formative part of my life growing up and I can honestly say that much of my innate awareness for timing and wit came from watching every Muppet movie and TV show that I could. One could venture so far as to say I am a colorful fur suit shy from being a Muppet, myself. That being said, for me, the key to making an audience laugh is timing. And to master timing, you need to be a good listener and something of a mind reader. Making an audience laugh is more than delivering a line in a funny voice. It’s knowing when the audience is READY to laugh. Any good joke or comedic moment follows the recipe of: Setup > Punchline. And it’s in the space between these two moments that listening to your audience is most important. Once you’ve listened to your audience and established a relationship with them, that’s when you can begin to make them laugh.

5. What do you hope audiences take from seeing Shipwrecked!?

Donald Margulies wrote a fantastic Afterword in the published edition of this play.  He says, “young people have so many options at their fingertips that the plight of the theatre must seem almost quaint to them.” Firstly, I hope young people come to see this show. Secondly, to the young people who do see this show, I hope they take away from it what Mr. Margulies is trying to do with this piece and that is to reinvigorate the joy of live theatre, the magic of a moment. And I hope that after seeing our show, people will be reminded of the joy of seeing a show brought to life on stage in front of your eyes, because that’s literally what we do as actors on stage. I hope audiences have as much fun watching this show as we have performing it for them. This show has the potential to form an extremely powerful bond with the audiences who come to see it and I really hope we can achieve that.

Shipwrecked! runs through November 6. For more information or to purchase tickets: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

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