Some reviewers have praised Broadway and TV star Kyle Dean Massey for an electric performance or two, for which he is grateful.
But the actor and vocalist finds tremendous satisfaction in the everyday, literal electricity of home repair and refurbishing in a role as Mr. Fixit and a landlord.
“Especially if I’m involved with a very vocally demanding show, it’s a lovely, quiet hobby,” he said, speaking from his New York City apartment that he shares with partner Taylor Frey, whom he married in the fall. “It allows me to go to a special place.
“I can be rewiring something and look up and realize it’s 10 hours later. I get lost in it.”
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On July 27, Massey’s local followers and fans can get lost in a mix of the music that has marked his career, including tunes from his Broadway appearances in shows such as “Pippin” and the ABC TV series “Nashville,” at the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s latest Cabaret at The Commons series downtown.
He’ll bring his music director/keyboardist along for the 14-song, 75-minute show.
“My voice kind of naturally leans more toward country,” Massey said. “I like singing with that little twang.”
And he occasionally talks with a bit of a twang, unleashing in some interviews a folksy “y’all” heavy with southern drawl. And no wonder.
The 35-year-old vocalist grew up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where country was king. That explains why he loves classic artists such as Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and more current performers such as Sturgill Simpson. He never truly discovered Broadway until he reached his teens, and then had to cough up as much as $60 to order from a hometown record store the two-disc soundtrack to “Rent.”
“Back then, all I really needed was an example (from the entertainment world) to follow,” he said. “I didn’t really need anyone to coddle me and to give me all this affirmation.
“I just needed to see someone living the kind of life I wanted. And I didn’t have that. Before the internet, an encyclopedia was about as far as you could reach.
“So I do think that’s one of the most powerful things you can do (with fame) as something of an activist.”
He sometimes has included such background tidbits in his between-song banter at cabarets, where he seems gifted for comedy.
“Oh, I can be long-winded,” he said with a laugh, well-aware of online video clips of his humorous stories, including those of his audition struggles, rejections and such. “But I don’t think I’m especially funny.
“I’ve been through things, though, where you choose either to laugh or to cry. It’s easier to deal with if you can laugh about it once you’re on the other side of it. But, at the time, I probably was pretty devastated.”
Massey recently appeared on three seasons of “Nashville” as country music songwriter Kevin Bicks. Yet, he is best known for his Broadway roles, starring as the title character in “Pippin,” Gabe in “Next to Normal” and Fiyero in “Wicked.”
Minutes before this recent conversation, he wrapped up an audition for a spot on a TV show. He offered few details and seemed almost devil-may-care about the outcome. And in a life marked by such hit-and-miss presentations, who can blame him?
Away from the stage and screen, he sometimes unwinds by, well, making a good espresso, grinding the beans himself. He loves such time in the morning.
“Oh, very true. It’s the reason why I go to bed at night,” he said, laughing.
Forget such relaxing as lying on the beach for simple downtime.
“I can sit in something like a lawn chair for maybe 20 minutes before I get restless,” he said. “I like to stay busy.”
In whatever role that may be.
Who: Broadway, TV and film singer and actor Kyle Dean Massey performing in the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Cabaret at The Commons series.
When: 7:30 p.m. July 27. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
Tickets: $20, $35 and $55, available at thecip.org.
Food and drinks: Three-course dinner available with an ordering deadline of Monday. Cash bar available.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.