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A Rising (But Not Quite Shooting) Star

Before his Hollywood turn, Broadway’s Evan Jonigkeit survives hunting season in 1917 rural, upstate New York

When Evan Jonigkeit takes the stage on October 24 for the world premiere of playwright Sharr White’s The Snow Geese, he’ll be entering an entirely different world. The show, which stars Mary Louise Parker, centers on a family in upstate New York, circa 1917, that gathers for an annual shooting party but, of course, animals aren’t the only things considered fair game once hunting season is on.

It’s a return to Broadway for Jonigkeit—in the role of Duncan Gaesling—who made his Broadway debut opposite Kathleen Turner in High and was most recently seen in the acclaimed Off-Broadway show Really, Really.

Jonigkeit dropped by DuJour‘s office to talk about Duncan, The Snow Geese and why he’s lucky no real shooting is required.

I heard an injury that sidelined you from baseball lead you to acting. Is that true?

Not being able to play lead to acting, essentially. I was a communications major at Temple and had tendonitis in both of my shoulders and spurs as well, so I wasn’t able to play baseball in college. I had been in an improv troupe in high school and since that was the only other thing I really enjoyed focusing on, I took a class and it made me want to take another and then it snowballed into me being here right now.

The first time you were on a Broadway stage, you had to get naked. Is there any such thing as stage fright after that?

I never really got stage fright to begin with. In regard to that experience, there’s not anything you can do that exposes you more. So in one aspect nothing can really scare you once you’ve let yourself be seen in the buff, but I was never really afraid of being on stage in any way.

How did you end up in The Snow Geese?

I had worked with the Manhattan Theatre Club before and a friend of mine mentioned they had this new play and I should read it. The first time I did, I was taken by how beautifully written it was. Then I was a bit of a bulldog about it and called everybody involved to say I want to do this play.

What’s appealing to you about Duncan?

He has this bravado that he uses on behalf of his family, he becomes the person they all want to walk into a room. That’s something I can relate to, having to be the entertainer in a house. It’s a beautiful story of family dynamics and how he fits in to his family through his eyes and through theirs as well. The language of 1917 is also gorgeous to speak.

The show’s based around the Gaesling family’s annual shooting party. Are you a good shot?

I’m actually a terrible shot. My girlfriend and I go up to Vermont frequently and we’ll line up cans to shoot with BB guns. I’m just awful, it’s really sad. But she’ll line up the cans 100 years away and just pick them all off. It’s really emasculating.

Any plans for the cast to go shooting together? Or maybe play laser tag?

No, mostly just drinking.

Does your family have any odd rituals?

My family is very sports centric, so Jets games are a big deal. Sundays, my dad will make green cupcakes and my nephews will come over decked out in their football gear.

You’ve got some pretty high-profile projects lined up next.

Yeah, I’m going to have a small track on the next season of Girls, and I’m doing the new X-Men movie.

Fun! Do you get to play a mutant?

I am not allowed to say what I am, but it was a really cool job.

 

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