This week, we've teamed up with the folks at Groundhog Day for our "Creating Punxsutawney" week at The Ensemblist. Everyday this week, we will bring you an insider look at how the talented ensemble of the show developed their characters. To close out the week, podcast guest Josh Lamon (Finding Neverland, Hair) shares his take on playing Punxsutawney's mayor.
I play ‘Buster’, the Mayor of Punxsutawney and the head honcho of the Groundhog Day. Buster has a heart of gold and represents what Punxsutawney is. A town with an enormous heart that welcomes anyone and everyone. I always imagined him as your girlfriend/boyfriend’s jolly and loving Dad who tells terrible jokes and laughs at them louder than anyone else. Or everyones favorite uncle that drinks too much at thanksgiving and tells you the same story over and over again.
When I start working on a character the first thing that I do is work on their voice. Some people are visual learners or are dancers and can grasp the physicality first, but for some reason I learn best with sounds. Not to state the obvious, but I repeat my lines over and over again. So I started with different word pitches and played around with the rhythms of each sentence memorizing exactly how I said and annunciated everything so it would match every repeat perfectly. The challenge with this show is somedays you say something a little differently, or you make a movement you never did before and now you have to repeat that. It can get a little tricky.
My favorite thing about this production is how diverse everyone is. You have 24 people giving you completely different characters that create this beautiful and hilarious town that we live in. We are all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientations and we represent what a real town in America looks like. And I love that. We have created a functioning city with real relationships and I think I am the luckiest mayor in the world.