John Yazzo is one of the ten artists to make up National Players Tour 71. Earlier this month, the National Players were on the road performing in schools and community centers around Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Next week, the Players will be performing at Pennsylvania State University. I wanted to chat with John to see what it is like performing three shows in repertoire, and what roles he is playing in Tour 71.
Where are you from?
I'm originally from Brooklyn, NY, but spent a lot of my life in New Jersey.
How did you decide you wanted to be a National Player?
I first heard about the National Players when I went to UPTA (United Professional Theatre Auditions) two years ago. I met Jenna (Duncan, Casting Director and Associate Artistic Director) and Rachel (Grandizio, Casting Apprentice 2018-19) during a callback and immediately became excited about working with them. It didn't work out that year, but when I went to UPTA again this past year, I was called back again. I already knew these were people I really wanted to work with, and after a great callback and a bed almost falling on me, here I am today!
What roles do you play this season?
I play Charles the Wrestler and Silvius in As You Like It, John and Mr. Winterbottom in Walk Two Moons, and Mr. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank.
What has been the most rewarding/favorite part of the rehearsal or tour process?
I think the most memorable and rewarding part of tour and our rehearsal process so far has been the reception we've received from The Diary of Anne Frank. I know how important the story is, especially today, but I never really could comprehend the impact our show was going to have until we really started doing it. The response has been so overwhelmingly positive and it has really opened up a much larger conversation about why talking about the Holocaust is so important and why this story still means so much today. History is cyclical, and it’s easy to repeat, so telling this story hopefully reminds us that we all matter no matter who we are, where we're from, and what we believe. I'm truly honored to tell this story with my incredible tourmates.
What place(s) are you excited to visit on tour?
I am so stoked to visit Steamboat Springs, Colorado because I've never been there before, and ORLANDO, FLORIDA! Because DISNEY!!!
Is it a challenge balancing three shows in repertoire?
It can be. I've toured before, but never to the extent of having such massive shows to do at any given time. I think the most exciting thing about this tour is getting to really dive in to these roles and plays and live in them and through them for a year. The work is only going to get better and better as we perform these three shows in rep, and it’s an exciting challenge for me! I'm excited to see what these shows will look like and feel like by the end of our year with them!
What is your favorite scene out of all three plays to perform in?
I think by far my favorite scene to perform is my scene with Phoebe in As You Like It! Getting to play with Saira is always a blast, and playing a young doting lover has made me appreciate the struggle even more in my personal life. Silvius is like a playful puppy dog, and getting to play him is always a silly and fun time.