Chatback with Nick Tag

Just days after The Graduate at Laguna Playhouse closed, up-and-coming actor Nick Tag (Benjamin Braddock) is hard at work promoting his next project. Besides acting, the real-life USC graduate also has writing and producing credits under his belt. I got to chat with Tag recently about his Playhouse co-star Melanie Griffith (Mrs. Robinson), the challenge of wearing a wet suit on stage and the backstage shenanigans as seen on Instagram.

Were you familiar with the film version or the previous stagings of The Grauduate before getting cast as the title character?

I was. I had seen the movie a few times growing up and saw it shortly before auditions. However I purposefully have not watched it again since starting the process. Would be fun to see it again once the show closes.

Your character opens the show in scuba gear. Was it difficult to wear under the stage lights?

The scuba suit was initially an authentic suit from the 60s. Extremely heavy, extremely hot and extremely uncomfortable. Eventually the costume team decided to make their own suit, designed as a replica of the initial one with a lighter fabric and a bit easier to get out of. Most of the major obstacles for playing Ben were the constant costume changes, most of which were on stage. Luckily the costume team was incredibly on top of it and facilitated excellently.

What has been the most thrilling part about being cast in this production? 

It has been such a wonderful opportunity to work with a star like Melanie Griffith who has such a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her career as taken her everywhere and she has worked with or met seemingly everyone in the business at some point. Working with someone with that kind of experience is a priceless opportunity for growth and knowledge.

Has Melanie given you any specific advice?

“You have to follow your gut. That’s all you got.”

Some of your scenes with Melanie and Martha Magruder (Elaine Robinson) are very physical. Have you had any stage mishaps? 

Yes we have. Bizarrely enough, the molding on the doors is very sharp and ragged. Every few nights somebody injures their hand on the doors. Just the other night Melanie cut herself pretty good and was bleeding all over the stage during the wedding chapel scene. Made for quite the villainous affect.

A few of your co-stars have uploaded backstage videos on Instagram. Who started the dressing room dance parties?

Our close friend and resident wildcard Richard Burgi. He always brought in his speakers and sought to rev us up for a show. Wherever Dick is is where the party is. So I think it was really just a natural progression.

What’s next for you?

After we close I move back to LA. Currently working on getting a short film I recently co-wrote and produced, The Other Side of the Box into festivals. So that’s next on the agenda. And hopefully starting to write or find our next project.

Tell us about The Other Side of the Box.

It is a short film and my first foray into the world of writing and producing. It is a 15 min psychological suspense short that I wrote with my creative partner Caleb Phillips who I met when directing me in a feature, Brothers in Arms that we made 3 years ago.

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