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Making a Scene: Moorhead grad a ‘swing’ in second Broadway show

Preston Boyd, third from the right in the back, performs a number from “Bullets Over Broadway,” the Moorhead native’s second Broadway show. Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD – Growing up as a multi-talented kid in Moorhead, Preston Boyd had to choose between hockey and theater when his schedule no longer allowed him to do both.

Looks like he made the right choice.

Boyd, 28, is working on his second Broadway musical, “Bullets Over Broadway,” starring “Scrubs” actor Zach Braff as a playwright forced to cast a mobster’s talentless girlfriend in a show in order to get it produced. Boyd’s first was “Big Fish.”

And, just a couple weeks ago, he joined two other Moorhead grads on the stage at the Tonys, where “Bullets” was nominated for six awards.

“I went with my true love and one I felt I could really be successful with, and, luckily, things have lined up the way they have so far,” Boyd said Monday from his dressing room at The St. James Theatre in New York.

Boyd’s first experience performing was in his church choir. His first role in a musical was the Court Jester in his middle school’s production of “Princess and the Pea.” From there, he went on to join Gooseberry Park Players and Trollwood Performing Arts School.

After graduating from Moorhead High School in 2004, he attended the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.

Since then, he’s racked up educational and regional theater performance credits, and did two First National Tours – a two-year commitment as the Monster in “Young Frankenstein” and a one-year stint as Bob Gaudio in “Jersey Boys.”

Tell me about your role in “Bullets Over Broadway.”

I’m what’s called a “swing.” I actually cover 11 different tracks (roles) in the show, four of those being principals and the rest being ensemble tracks. So I have to be very organized, because I could be called at the drop of a hat for any one of those roles.

It’s also what I did over at “Big Fish” – I was an “off-stage cover” is what they call it, so I was standing by for a lot of the principal roles.

You’ve got to be incredibly versatile to be a swing. How do you do it?

Yeah, it’s quite the feat.

How often do you get called upon to fill in for someone?

Well, for instance, last week, I was on for three different shows because one of the guys had lost his voice after all the Tony rehearsals we had been doing.

Then we’ve got a couple vacations coming up, and we’ve got a surgery on the way, so, unfortunately, for those people, that means I get to do their jobs, but it’s good for me instead of sitting in the dressing room.

 “Bullets” could last six months or six years. How do you deal with that uncertainly?

 A lot of this business is just jumping in headfirst and having faith in your fellow cast mates and also in theater patrons and theater supporters. It’s kind of a give-and-take business between us and our audiences, and our producers.

Has your second Broadway run been different from your first?

The first one, that was kind of my childhood dream, to perform on Broadway, and I’m still living it, so it’s a constant happy day for me, I guess.

Every time our company manager brings our checks on Thursday, I always say, “You pay us for this? That’s crazy.” It’s what I love to do.

What was it like to perform at the Tonys?

It’s just another dream come true.

Standing there next to Hugh Jackman backstage ready to go on … You can’t custom-make your dreams, but you can take what you get with them. Everything has been icing on the cake.

Did growing up in Fargo-Moorhead help prepare you for this?


Our community is unbelievable when it comes to the arts – all the support systems and all the opportunities we have to perform, and all the inspiring people in our lives, especially Rebecca Meyer-Larson (Moorhead High’s theater director).

She was one who really nurtured all of us Moorhead kids and told us that no dream is too big, and she’s been nothing but supportive and loving and caring for me throughout my time in Minnesota, and after, as well.

What’s the audition process like? Is it as grueling as it’s portrayed in media?

Every audition is different. Different people have different demeanors in the room.

What are some of your dream roles?

There are multiple shows on Broadway right now that I would love to be a part of. It’s exciting to walk down the street and walk by “Rock of Ages” and turn the corner and “Les Mis” is right there.

I think, one day, I would love to play Joe Hardy in the “Damn Yankees” revival or Bobby Child in a “Crazy for You” revival.

But who knows what’s in the future in our business or what source material people are going to bring into the city.

Maybe your dream role hasn’t been written yet.

Maybe it hasn’t been written yet, exactly.

Meredith Holt

Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representationShe was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.

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