Sunday, September 24 marks the last chance to see the World Premiere mounting of PART OF THE PLAN, the new musical that incorporates the tunes of singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg to tell an all-new narrative of a young woman who is forced to give up her newborn son, and the life that son lives. Before the show wraps its inaugural run and continues its journey towards Broadway, I wanted to share recent conversations I had with two of the show’s stars for my latest Rapid Fire Q&A. First up is Harley Jay, who plays Sean, the adopted son as an adult. I followed my chat with Jay by speaking to his on-stage love interest, Josie, played by Jayme Lake, who just so happens to also be Jay’s off-screen love interest and wife.
RAPID FIRE WITH PART OF THE PLAN STAR, HARLEY JAY
JONATHAN PINKERTON: You play Sean in PART OF THE PLAN. Tell me a little about your character?
HARLEY JAY: Sean’s a smart guy with a big heart and almost has an obsession with proving himself. A lot the show for Sean is spent proving he can overcome the odds. He’s a fun character to play (and hopefully watch) because while he’s got a ton of great qualities he doesn’t do a good job of hiding his flaws. It’s fun to play characters that the audience hopefully likes through the good and the bad, scars and all.
JP: The fact that Sean is adopted figures prominently into the overlapping storylines of PART OF THE PLAN. Did your director or the show’s creative team offer any specifics on how that underlying piece of Sean’s history should be ever-present in his actions?
HARLEY JAY: We talked about Sean’s path in the story a lot, especially because he’s adopted. When I first got put on this project I talked to some friends that were adopted. They were great about discussing what goes through their minds and how they have dealt with growing up and and becoming the people they are today and if that has affected them. Interestingly, both of them said they are certain their life is leaps and bounds better than it would have been. They both showed a lot of gratitude and appreciation for their adopted parents and their birth parents for having the courage to do what they did. I think that conversation comes up a lot in any adopted persons life even if the conversation is only with themselves.
JP: The way PART OF THE PLAN is written, Fogelberg’s songs are inserted into the show to propel the storyline. Is there a particular song that, with the added context of the plot, you’ve grown to truly love?
HARLEY JAY: I’ve been a pretty big Fogelberg fan since I was a little guy. My grandpa used to play Fogelberg tunes on a giant boom box while he taught me how to build motorcycles in his garage every summer. He played everything from Roy Orbison to Eddie Arnold, Marty Robins, Charlie Pride and Dan Fogelberg. Since doing the show though, I’ve really had a chance to dive in and dissect the songs, their meanings and in some cases the subtle twists their meanings have now being a part of a musical. They are brilliantly intertwined in the show. Karen Harris and Kate Atkinson (the writers/producers) masterfully constructed the songs in and around the dialogue. Hard to Say has really had the biggest impression on me so far. It was one of my favorites before the show and the way it’s been embedded into this show makes it even more meaningful. I’ve put out 4 solo records and I’m constantly trying to write new material for the next one. A lot of songwriters I’ve talked to talk about songwriting like going fishing. You wake up early, you get out on the water and you wait for something to bite so you can eat that night. If you don’t go fishing, you could miss out on eating the best tasting fish in the water. If you don’t write that day you could miss the best song the universe has to offer. Every once in a blue moon you hear a song where you think “man, I wish I would’ve caught that one…” Hard to Say is that kind of song to me.
JP: Young Wyatt Rogers plays Sean as a boy early in the show. Did you guys work together to develop certain mannerisms, movements or subtle characteristics that might be seen in both young Sean and your more mature portrayal of the character?
HARLEY JAY:We’ve talked about little things in certain scenes but casting did a really great job of finding a Young Sean that already has a lot of the same mannerisms as I do naturally. Wyatt is a lot funnier and a hell of a lot more talented than I was at his age…Don’t tell him I said that.
JP: Alright, I’m about to interview one of your co-stars, Jayme Lake, who not only plays your on-stage love, Josie, but to whom you just so happen to be married to in real life. What’s it like sharing the stage with your wife?
HARLEY JAY: It honestly doesn’t get much better than that! Before we got married we talked about the fact that we might not always be in the same place for months at a time because of what we’ve chosen to do for a living. We knew what we were signing up for. But when projects come along where you do get to work and travel together, that’s the best of the best. She’s a talented, beautiful woman who shines in this show and has one of my most favorite voices ever so getting to hear her sing everyday (especially these songs) is one of my favorite parts of doing the show. Plus, she’s pretty darn cute to look at. To say I’ve got it good is an understatement.
RAPID FIRE WITH PART OF THE PLAN star, JAYME LAKE
JP: Tell me about the character you play in PART OF THE PLAN?
JAYME LAKE: I play Josie, wife of the lead character Sean. She’s a strong girl who’s passionate and loves hard. She’s determined to have a life and marriage filled with love and happiness and not fall into the patterns of the marriages she was surrounded by growing up.
JP: Alright, you may or may not remember when we first met, but I met you a few years back when you played a multitude of ensemble characters in I LOVE LUCY: LIVE ON STAGE. As our now mutual friends Denise Moses, Benji Kern, Jeffrey Todd, Bill Mendieta, Sirena Irwin and others will attest, I’m a bit obsessed with Lucy. What was your favorite thing about touring with the I LOVE LUCY stage musical?
JAYME LAKE: I do remember! Being here in Nashville with I LOVE LUCY: LIVE ON STAGE was so wonderful. It was my first time visiting Nashville and YOU and all of the other amazing Lucy fans made it such a memorable experience! To pin point a single favorite thing about that tour would be tough! I’m just so grateful for the dear friends I made on tour and being lucky enough to be a part of a show that brought so much joy and fun to audiences across the country.
JP: I just chatted with Harley and and I asked him about sharing the stage with you, so you know I gotta ask you the flip?
JAYME LAKE: Sharing the stage with my husband is the BEST! We are so happy any time we get to work on a show together and it’s a bonus if we get to play opposite one another. Harley shines in this show; it’s a role he was born to play and I am so very proud to be by his side on that stage.
JP: PART OF THE PLAN is not only the brainchild of Karen Harris and Kate Atkinson, but also directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, a Tony Award and Drama Desk nominated director/choreographer…Heck the show’s even making it’s World Premiere debut right here in Nashville at TPAC, which is of course helmed by the center’s CEO/President, Kathleen O’Brien, one of my personal favorite people in the performing arts profession. What’s it like to be part of a show with so many talented and powerful women behind it?
JAYME LAKE: It’s an honor. Truly, it is. I’m so proud of these incredibly talented, strong, intelligent women who are leading this team. I have been a part of this show for the past few years in the reading and workshop stages and it’s so inspiring to see how these bold women have worked so very hard, taken risks, and given everything and more to bring this beautiful show to life.
JP: What do you hope audiences take with them after seeing PART OF THE PLAN?
JAYME LAKE: It will be different for everyone but I can assure you that people will walk away from this show having felt “all the feels” if you will. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry and you’ll be taken on an important and beautiful journey. I always walk away after seeing a show feeling a little better than I did when I came in and that is what I love about live theatre.
PART OF THE PLAN concludes its World Premiere debut staging at TPAC’s Polk Theatre with final matinee and evening performances Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24. Click Here to purchase tickets or for more information. Keep up with PART OF THE PLAN on social media by liking the official page on Facebook and following them on Instagram andTwitter. For the latest from TPAC, check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you’ve enjoyed this special edition of mar recurring interview segment, Rapid Fire 20 Q, Click Here to check out previous conversations and be sure to subscribe to Nashville Arts Critic by entering your email address in the “Subscribe” section to the right of this article. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumbler.