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You may remember Corbin Bleu from the Emmy-award winning Disney Channel movie High School Musical alongside Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. The sequel, High School Musical 2, became the most-watched made-for-cable movie of all time, and the third installment broke opening weekend records in theaters and grossed a quarter billion dollars worldwide. Corbin Bleu has released two studio albums and won an NAACP Best New Artist award. He made his Broadway debut as the lead in Tony-winning Best Musical In the Heights, and now has taken on the role of a lifetime — Jesus — in the revival of the legendary rock musical Godspell.
Following are excerpts from the full audio interview, which you can play or download at the top or bottom of the page.
[Starting at 1:41]
Father Dave: Now, I’m sure everybody, almost, that talks to you asks you about the big success of “High School Musical,” but here on the Catholic Channel, and as a Catholic priest, I’d like to know — your faith is a big part of who you are, and even your career — if you read your blog entries, you’re always closing with a Scripture quote. That may surprise some people.
Corbin Bleu: Thank you for knowing that. [Laughter.]
FD: We have a crack staff here.
CB: Yes, absolutely. I grew up Christian, and it has always been a huge part of my life, a huge part of my family. An interesting thing, you know both my parents are entertainers, or, at least, used to be. My mom used to be an entertainer — my dad is still an actor, and with our busy family life, we don’t always necessarily get the opportunity to go to church every single Sunday, but, for us, the most important part is, literally, always about your personal relationship with God. And, I’ll tell you, our lives — the way we lead them, and the way I’ve grown up to lead my life, is just be open to the fact that everything happens for a reason. Literally, whatever door He closes is a new one to open, even when it came to being a part of this show Godspell. It started off — I was originally going to make a trip out here to New York to visit a friend who was coming in from L.A. She ended up not being able to come out. I said, “You know what? I have my ticket booked. I’m going to go anyway.” Ended up coming out here, went to go see Godspell with a friend of mine and fell in love with the show, just happened to find out that I knew Hunter — Hunter was in the show, Anna Maria was in the show, Telly was in the show; people that I knew. I went backstage to meet them. Danny Goldstein, the director of the show, came back and met me, and he was sort of weirded out by me there, I wasn’t quite sure why, until the next day I got a phone call from my agent saying he wanted to have a meeting — I found out, the day before they were talking about me when it came to taking over for the role of Jesus, and then I just showed up at the show.
FD: I have a friend who calls that a “God-incidence.” There are no coincidences.
CB: No. Totally.
FD: Only “God-incidences.”
CB: One hundred percent.
FD: And, I would imagine, when you found that out, that must be like, “Oh boy. I guess I gotta take this.”
CB: Exactly. No. Seriously. Everything. Everything’s always like that. It was the same thing with In The Heights, man. I was working in a television show that got cancelled, that, had we not been cancelled, I would have gone to work that Monday, but instead I ended up going to this little Broadway jazz club called Birdland, and met Scott Segal, who produces all these cabaret shows. Scott Segal had me come and do a show at Town Hall. Producers from The Heights came and saw that show, and asked me to come and audition. Had we not been cancelled, that was like — it’s amazing.
FD: That’s the whole closing door opening window kind of thing.
CB: One hundred percent.
FD: So, when you are blogging for your fans and doing journal entries, as you call it, when you’re closing out with a scripture quote, do you kind of do the old popcorn flip through the Bible, or is it something that really come to you? Because I thought a lot of them were fairly appropriate — and not like the big home run, you know, “Love your neighbor” — I mean, you’re quoting Proverbs and Psalms and stuff.
CB: You know, it really depends. Sometimes. I mean, I do read my Bible and, it depends, some days I find something that all of a sudden I’ll remember and I’ll go back to that. There are some days, literally I don’t necessarily know, and I’ll just flip through a couple of pages and all of a sudden it comes up and I’m just like, “Whoa. That’s perfect.” So, it really just depends on the day…
[Starting at 9:44]
FD: Is Broadway, because it is the same every night, but different every night, is that better, worse, different, from doing a film?
CB: Oh no. It’s so much more tiring. I’m beat up. My body hurts. Everything hurts, I’m tired, but it is so fulfilling. There’s nothing else really like theater. You get that live immediate reaction with the audience. With a show like this, because we do get a chance to bring some of our own material, you really can keep it current for yourself, whatever you’re feeling at the time, and just specifically, for this show, it has done wonders for me in my own spirit, man — to get to speak these words that I speak every single night. I’m saying them and I’m listening to them as I’m saying them, and I think what’s been incredible about playing this role specifically is, I view it almost like when you’re a little kid and you look at your parents and they’re God — they can do no wrong — and then you get older and you realize that they’re human and that they make mistakes. You know, growing up Christian, I was taught that Jesus is the ultimate. Doing this show, and having to find flaws, and having to make him human, has been one of those things that causes you to go, okay, he’s human, but it’s the fact that he chooses to take the high road every time. That’s what makes him an incredible human being. It’s not necessarily that he’s this robot programmed to do good. He has the choice to do good and bad, and he chooses to do good.
FD: And I think you’re right that in a modern North American Christianity, let’s say, we certainly over-divinize the completely human and completely divine Jesus, and this is one of the very earliest big debates that they had in Christianity. “Well, how does that work?” “Maybe he stopped being God for a while and was just human?” All these things still today we profess in the Creed, but it’s like, “What does that really mean? Who knows.” But to really embrace that to be fully human does not mean to be sinful, cause we believe He didn’t have sin…
FD: But to be fully human means to be human as we are…
CB: To be human and to have the choice, is really what it is, to think about it. Just cause he maybe didn’t sin per se didn’t mean he didn’t think about it.
FD: Right. Now, I would recommend the show not only for the talent and the music and fun, it’s also performed, which I think is great for Godspell, in the round, and you’re right there with the audience…
CB: There’s not a bad seat in the house.
FD: There’s some pretty cool set things, like water…
CB: Of course, I walk on water. I turn the water to wine and we have all that kind of fun stuff. There are trampolines hidden in the stage that we do a whole number that we jump on trampolines. We actually bring audience members onto the stage. There’s a lot of audience participation. We play Pictionary with them, and charades, and we actually have one of our audience members do a whole scene with us, and they have to read lines, and it is really a fun show. Some people, when they don’t know what they’re going into all of a sudden, some people are thrown off at first, and then, once they get into it, they leave going, “That was so much fun. I’ve never experienced theater like that before…”
The Busted Halo Show with Father Dave Dwyer is on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Sirius/XM 129, Monday through Friday, 7:00pm to 10:00pm EST. Give us a call with your questions and comments: 1-888-3-CATHOLIC, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.siriusxm.com to get subscription information.