Jesse Tyler Ferguson Jesse Williams Take Me Out

Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Jesse Williams Are Up to Bat Again in Take Me Out

After hitting a home run on Broadway last season, the boys from Richard Greenberg’s 2022 revival of Take Me Out are back for more. After opening in April and closing in June, the Pulitzer Prize winner — which picked up two Tonys, including Best Revival of a Play — will reopen October 27 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. NY1 News journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with two of the show’s all-stars: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who won a Tony for his portrayal of Mason Marzac, and Jesse Williams, who was nominated for a Tony for taking on the role of Darren Lemming.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Williams in Take Me Out. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, this show marks 25 years of you being a member of the Broadway community. Winning a Tony in June was quite the prize for that milestone.

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON: My character says in the play, “Don’t diminish it. It would be too ungrateful.” And I did take those words to heart. And I wanted to embrace the moment, what was happening. And it’s a community that means a lot to me, and it’s something really big. It’s almost bigger than getting an award for acting — it was getting to be acknowledged and getting to thank the community that I love so much. Patti LuPone sent me a text message saying, “I love that we won Tony Awards on the same night.” If 10-year-old Jesse Tyler Ferguson knew that that was going to happen, he would’ve passed out in his bedroom in New Mexico.

Jesse Williams, this show marked your first time on Broadway, and you’re already back for more. What made you want to revisit this role, and so soon?

JESSE WILLIAMS: I didn’t think we were finished. I still had the play in me. I was running scenes in my head in the shower and on summer break. I felt like the last month on stage, we hit a new gear as a company; we were cooking in a different way, and I knew there was more in the tank, more for us to explore.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Take Me Out. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, I need to point out that Denis O’Hare, who created the role you play, gave you his blessing.

JTF: He sent me flowers and said, “You took the ball and knocked it out of the park.”

Jesse Williams, what was the highlight for you, with being a part of the theater community for the first time?

JW: I think there were some highlights on stage, there were some highlights in the lobby, and there was the highlight at the Tonys. On stage, there were interesting highlights, where we’d be in scenes months into the production and I’d make a discovery about my character or my scene partner. Something that would enliven me and propel me forward in a new way.

Most of the original revival cast is back for the remount. There’s a real brotherhood with this company.

JW: It’s funny because we were playing a team — a team that had been together and been winning championships. Baseball is a very long season. And there’s an interesting parallel there for a company that met at the end of 2019, began rehearsals, and was several weeks in and then had to shut down, and then maintained a relationship over a period of a year through Zoom. People had babies and had families. We stayed in touch and ran Zoom rehearsals for the first few weeks. And to come back new, evolved, more emotionally mature as individuals and as a company and as a world, it was growth for us as individuals, us as a company, and us as a society at large.

This show first premiered on Broadway in 2003 and yet it still feels so timely.

JTF: I think it’s disappointing in a lot of ways. Obviously, it makes the play relevant that I don’t think Richard Greenberg was anticipating. I hope it continues the conversation that there needs to be more representation in professional sports specifically.

Jesse Williams and Brandon J. Dirden in Take Me Out. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jesse Williams, there’s a lot of weight with your character and what he carries on stage. Do you feel that weight with telling this story and presenting his truths on stage?

JW: I really trust the material. I trust its resonance. I can see its resonance with the interactions I have after the show with people on the street. Hearing people say “Your experience with Davey reminded me of my experience with my uncle.” People are relating to it and finding points of contact with the characters in ways that are unexpected.

You are both are fans of the theater, but where do things stand with your love of baseball?

JW: I grew up in Chicago playing virtually year-round baseball. My dad is obsessed with baseball. I grew up as a shortstop and a student of the game because of my dad. And I get to relive some of that now, playing with my kids and teaching them about the game. I grew up a Cubs fan — I’m a Cubs fan through and through. That being said, being the leader of the Empires in the show in New York — I love going to Yankees games. Aaron Judge and those guys are kicking ass. I’m not ashamed to say I root for them and feel like there’s a connection to our Empires.

JTF: Oh gosh. I own New York Yankees hats because I’ve lived in New York for a while. I own three New York Yankees hats, I’ve been to Yankee Stadium. So I’m going to have to say I’m a Yankees fan. But I have to say I’ve been to a Dodgers game as well. I just go to games in the towns that I live in. Is that OK? [Laughs.]

You can catch Ferguson and Williams in Take Me Out when it returns to Broadway October 27, 2022, for a limited engagement through January 29, 2023.

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