In Part 2 in a series of interviews with the cast of Danny Boy at Unexpected Stage Company, meet Justus Hammond.
Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them where you received your theater training and where they may have seen you before on the stage?
Justus: Hello! My name is Justus Hammond. I have trained at Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory, the Washington Improv Theater, the Upright Citizens Brigade Improv Theater, and the Faction of Fools Commedia dell’Arte theatre. Recently, I was in the Washington Improv Theater production SitCommonwealth, an improvised sitcom. This past summer I performed in a few productions. I was in the first annual 1-minute play festival in DC. I was in the Rockville Little Theatre production of The Miser by Moliere. I was also a cast member of Slam Theatre 3.0 as part of the Intersections festival. In the spring, I was in the cast of Frag by Michael Garces; this was part of Fault Lines: A night of two acts hosted by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
Why did you want to get involved with this production of Danny Boy?
I fell in love with the character I went in to read for at the audition. The relationship between Danny and Gabe reminded me of a lot of people I have grown up with.
Had you ever been involved with the show before or heard about the show before?
This is my first production with Unexpected Stage Company and it was my first time hearing about this production.
Who are you playing in the show?
I play Gabe.
How do you relate to your character?
I can identify with Gabe’s views on life and, in a lot of ways, Gabe is just like me and some of the friends I grew up with.
What do you admire about Gabe and what do you not admire about him?
I admire Gabe’s way of looking at life as an experience that shouldn’t be hampered by the everyday grind that a lot of people put up with. I don’t admire Gabe’s irresponsibility. You can be Gabe and still be a responsible person..
How will audiences relate to Gabe?
I feel that everyone has a “Gabe” in their life somewhere. Someone who isn’t living up to the social responsibility of those around them and still happens to skate by. I also feel like “Gabe” is how we all wish we could live our lives to a certain extent.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how has your director helped you resolve them? What personal experiences have helped you develop your performance?
The biggest challenge I have faced in this role is singing like Elvis Costello. There is one line in the play that I am supposed to sing as Elvis Costello and despite listening to his music over and over again I can’t resonate anywhere close to him. However, the director has me listening to Elvis Costello non-stop, which is a win-win in my opinion.
Personal experiences that have helped me develop my performance have all come from my upbringing in the DMV area. I am drawing from my own life events for this performance. I have friends that fit the mold of every character in the play.
What scene in the entire show moves you the most?
I feel like the second scene with Danny’s mom moves me the most. This is the scene where he confronts her about how she feels to have a dwarf as a son. I feel that is the moment of the play where Danny finally stops saying sorry and stands up for himself. Gabe is usually there to defend Danny and in this scene I am not there and Danny takes care of himself.
What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing Danny Boy?
I would like the audience to experience what life is like from Danny’s perspective. I want the audience to walk away with a better understanding and more tolerance for the world that we live in.
Danny Boy plays from October 16-26, 2014 at Unexpected Stage Company-performing at Randolph Road Theater-4010 Randolph Road, in Silver Spring, MD 20902. For tickets, call (800) 838-3006, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘Danny Boy’ at Unexpected Stage Company: Part 1: Meet Scott J. Strasbaugh.