TODAY   |  April 11, 2014

Actor plays 8 ‘exhausting, exhilarating’ roles in show

Jefferson Mays plays eight different roles in the Broadway show “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” To help him keep his characters straight, his dresser whispers which one he’s changing into during each costume change.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is raised in poverty.

>> there are eight people in the line of succession for the money before him. and tony award winning actor jefferson mays plays them all.

>> he sings, dances, cycles and ice skates in the musical comedy "a gentleman's guide to love and murder." we're thrilled to have you with us. we saw this and were blown away by it. first of all, we cannot believe the energy it takes. you have so many costume changes. if you win a tony you have to share it with your dresser. because -- is it true you have sometimes have to ask your dresser, who am i next?

>> early on, not so much anymore, but julian, my brilliant dresser, will sometimes whisper who i am.

>> the role is so vastly different. tell us about some of the eight roles you play.

>> i play all members of the same aristocratic family. but in two of them, they're women, you know, but i have never been busier. the costume changes alone, you hurl yourself off stage into the darkness, you're set upon by four muscular and determined people who rip your clothes off.

>> yes, you do.

>> such a tour de force and audiences are -- i love that it is a new story, you don't know what's coming. but at the same time, it has old-fashioned entertainment value the likes of which is a combination of vaudeville, circus, and broadway musical . has it all.

>> yes, it does. having a great time.

>> so the reaction you've been getting must be crazy. how do you keep up that energy level , watching you go through that and you got to be exhausted, tired --

>> it is exhausting as it is exhilarating. i go home to bed in my oxygen tent at the end of every night.

>> i would think you suck in a little oxygen.

>> yes.

>> you're a much younger man than i thought.

>> you're so kind.

>> you play such an array that i didn't know which one was the real --

>> i know.

>> and everybody lies with their pictures in the play bill anyway. but you're better looking than your play bill.

>> you make me blush, madam.

>> you were a tony winner in that one man show called "i am my own wife".

>> you played how many characters in that one?

>> 37 characters. they were all in the same costume. it is the costume changes.

>> what do we have here?

>> just to give you a taste of the family. they are a motley crue . this is lord edleburg, high host, arguably the villain of the play. and --

>> the big lazy left eye .

>> he does. it wanders. and then this, with the help of prosthetic teeth is lord ezekiel, english clergyman.

>> and then one more, one more, put this eye patch on, this fellow, mustache, if i can get it unstuck from my thing, nope, is his lord bartholomew , a fitness freak and vegetarian. so a retired military man, obviously.

>> quite the cod piece if i remember.