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Larry Owens: Sunday In The Park 6 Feet Away From George

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<em>Ask Me Another</em> host Ophira Eisenberg and Larry Owens backstage at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Nickolai Hammar, NPR

Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg and Larry Owens backstage at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Originally from Baltimore, actor and musical comedian Larry Owens grew to prominence in New York City's musical theater and comedy scene. Owens starred in the off-broadway show A Strange Loop, a meta-musical about an aspiring playwright writing a meta-musical about an aspiring playwright. Vulture named A Strange Loop the best theatrical production of 2019 and called Owens "a blazing celestial object in human form." The actor can also be seen in High Maintenance's season four premiere, playing an overworked singing telegram messenger. Owens also hosts a musical podcast, What Makes U Sing, where he interviews his guests about the music that gives them life.

In a conversation with NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York, Owens talked about his early-life obsession with musical theater, his brief career as a wedding singer, and his love of Stephen Sondheim.

For his Ask Me Another challenge, Owens played a game that tests his knowledge of title songs from Stephen Sondheim musicals.

Highlights

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On the musical Hairspray:
"I'm from Baltimore, so Hairspray was a very seminal musical. It was the first musical that made me understand that musicals happen in real-time on Broadway, every night. And that someone's job is to do that every night."

On Grease:

"I truly have princess syndrome. It's so awful. I truly think that I'm Sandy Dumbrowski. I think Olivia Newton-John is a window in — not accepted in school, she works really hard at it, then she's cool at the end of year. Like, oh my gosh! That's what my black, gay, fat self wanted!"

On Stephen Sondheim's lyrics for "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd":

"Listen to what is happening. It is truly — a demon is rising up from a trap door beneath the stage and for the next two and a half hours, we're about to get our bleeping lives."

Heard on Larry Owens: Sunday In The Park 6 Feet Away From George.

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