We found a picture of a tennis net on a stage. No, don’t get too excited. It’s just visual enhancement. (Photo by alliancetheatre via flickr.)
Just in time for the US Open, TSF presents our interview with tennis/Broadway expert, Bob Kim. This interview is about the two worlds of tennis and Broadway colliding and the fun to be had when imagining what it would be like if stars from their respective worlds tried to make the jump onto the unknown stage or unknown court. Not an expert on both worlds like Bob? Don’t worry, you’ll still love his quippy answers. And his perfect Broadway-meets-tennis-day is one to be emulated, or at least attempted. -NM
The bio: Bob lives and works near the ATP Legg Mason tennis tournament. That would be Washington DC, where the regional theater is charming and often surprisingly good and the big theater is mostly lowest-common denominator Broadway. This is Bob’s first big blog opportunity. He has performed in off-blog venues, such as in letters to the editor and in nonprofit newsletters. He thanks his parents, all of his friends and Muffy for all of their love and support (xoxo hugs!!!!!), and Amtrak.
TSF: What current tennis star would make the best leading Broadway man? Woman?
Bob Kim: Where to start? First of all, it really depends on the show. Tennis is an international sport so there’s a natural fit with certain shows. For Evita, you could go with Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentinian and reigning US Open champion. But you’d have to resurrect Gabriela Sabatini as Evita because I can’t think of a top, current Argentinian in the WTA at the moment. For Miss Saigon, you could go with Ai Sugiyama or Na Li or Tamarine Tanasugarn. None of them are Vietnamese, but since when has ethnic verisimilitude mattered on Broadway?
If I had to pick one man and one woman, I think you have to go with Serena on the women’s side. She already has acting experience and an extensive IMDB page. Judging from her last USO performance, she can definitely emote. She would have been perfect delivering a profanity-laced diatribe in last year’s Reasons to be Pretty.
For the men, I’d pick Novak Djokovic. His on-court imitations of other tennis players like Roddick, Federer and especially Maria Sharapova suggest real underlying acting talent. He’s a ham. He likes being in front of people. Too bad these days he’s complaining of nausea and dizziness on the big (tennis) stage. I think he’s a bit of a drama queen. We’ve never seen those on Broadway before! He’d be perfect.
TSF: OK got it. Enough with the drama queens though, who on the ATP tour would make the best chorus boy? Why?
BK: I’m going to say two people — the Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob. They’re twins so they almost count as one. They already sing (in a band), and they are clean-scrubbed, extremely boring white boys who look exactly alike — and they play pro doubles, which is like the tennis equivalent of off-off-Broadway. They are used to being in the background rather than in the lead.
TSF: Speaking of the lead, if Roger Federer, a quintessential leading man, could belt one show tune about his career, which would he choose and why?
BK: Uh, hello! Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy. Federer has 16 freaking Slam titles. This song holds true even before he won the French last year — he was the crazy maniacal Mama Rose trying to pretend he was happy and that Nadal wasn’t in fact his eternal nemesis thwarting his goal to win all four majors and sail into tennis immortality.
TSF: Quite rosy, indeed. OK, let’s switch gears a little bit. Which current Broadway star would have the best chance of becoming a tennis star?
BK: I would say any of the Billy Elliotts. Everyone else is too old to have a chance. Well, then again you have Kimiko Date Krumm on the women’s tour, who retired last millennium and is now back in the top 100. She’s like 83 years old now. Didn’t she play against Margaret Court? Maybe there’s hope yet to see Angela Lansbury at Wimbledon.
TSF: Well, Angela does have “Duece” under her belt. Even if it didn’t get rave reivew. What show currently on Broadway mirrors the tennis tours the most?
BK: God of Carnage. No one can survive the brutality of the year-long pro tennis circuit. They’re all walking wounded. Between that and the vicious gossip (not to mention Andre Agassi‘s tell-all book), everyone is getting ripped a new one.