An all-Broadway-star cast is about to open in The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber at Costa Mesa’s beautiful Orange County Performing Arts Center.  Two of its stellar performers, David Josefsberg and Kevin Kern, go back a long, long way, having appeared together off-and-on Broadway in Altar Boyz, The Wedding Singer, and Les Misérables—and a whole bunch of readings.  (See the end of their interviews for their full bios.) StageSceneLA was able to catch up with David and Kevin as they prepare for their February 16th Opening Night. Their interviews make for such great reading, one can only imagine the fun they have as touring roommates. Read on!


Photo: Peter James Zielinski

Hi David.  How about we start with a quick background check beginning with where you grew up. 

I grew up the son of a cop and a teacher in a town called Kings Park, on Long Island.  

And how did the son of a cop and a teacher turn into a musical theater performer?

I guess I ended up in musical theater because a) I was always good at singing and I loved it, b) my parents were very, very supportive, even sending me to a theater high-school for half of my days, and c) although I was a great second baseman, I could not hit very well.   

Both you and your The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber costar Kevin Kern were in off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz, one of my very favorite musicals of recent years.  You, of course, were one of the five original Boyz. Were you Matthew? Mark?  Luke? Juan? 
Obviously I played Abraham, the lone Jew in a Christian boy band … c’mon, Josefsberg!  I have to agree with you, I think Altar Boyz was probably my favorite musical that I have ever done.  

What was it like to create a brand new role?

Creating the role of Abraham was awesome.  I guess it started at the audition when I wrote my own rap to put into the song Bye, Bye, Bye. 

Now that would be something to hear! How long did it take for Altar Boyz to make it to opening night?

We worked and reworked the show for about three years before it really got produced. Each of us added who we were to each role. I like to riff, beatbox, sing five-part harmony, and move okay, so that is what Abraham did. 

What do you think is the key to Altar Boyz’ success?

I think the show went over so well because we didn’t make fun of it … we played the reality of our characters.

You and Kevin were also in the original company of The Wedding Singer. Please don’t tell me that you can’t stand each other! 

We also did Les Miz, Monica the Musical, and 16 other readings together too, but that’s beside the point.  Well, Kevin … How can I put this nicely…?  Kevin is very, very difficult. He has a huge list of demands for his dressing room.  They include a full bottle of Evan Williams bourbon, all of Barry Manilow’s CDs, High School Musical 3, two Whitney Houston posters, a pint of chunky monkey ice cream, and four 8x10s of yours truly.  Okay, fine I’m joking.  Kevin is one of my best friends, his kids play with my kids, and we are even rooming together here. 

Sounds like you guys must be having a great time!  David, how do you compare joining a long-running show like Les Miz with being part of the original cast of The Wedding Singer?  

Les Miz was my dream show when I was a kid so I would never say anything bad about it.  Also I met my wife in Les Miz and we got to perform Marius and Cosette together. That being said, being part of an original cast allows you the chance to put your stamp on things. I really enjoy doing that! 

Tell us a bit about the touring you’ve been doing with The Wedding Singer star Stephen Lynch. 

Touring with Lynch has also been a dream come true. My father first played A Chorus Line for me as a kid, which probably got me interested in theater, and he also first introduced me to Stephen’s music, which started me writing my own material … and then I happened to meet the guy who got me started writing … and then I was on tour with him. 

What are the audiences like in Europe?

European audiences are amazing.  They sing all of Stephen’s songs with him, and they are even beginning to know mine. 
As a film/TV actor, you recreated the iconic role of Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli in The Mork And Mindy Story. Any particular challenges in playing a TV legend? 

Ayyyyy!  Everything! Henry Winkler was amazing … and the Fonz was one of the biggest TV characters of all time. I just tried not to screw it up too badly!  One particular challenge was leaving my wife at the hospital one day after my first son was born. That was harder than attempting to recreate my icon and yours … the Fonz!  

You’re also a songwriter.  According to your myspace music page, you met your songwriting partner Jeff Gurner “when David tried to b*** Jeff’s girlfriend.”  What’s the real story? 

That is the real story!  We realized we liked each other more than the girl we were fighting for (Jeff was fighting for!) … and now our partnership continues. We have a new album dropping … yes I said dropping, this month, and we are starting to tour soon. Shameless plug!  Check us out at www.JobergAndGurner.com or find our album on itunes March1st!   Or as a last resort JobergandGurner@myspace.com.

The titles of your songs are too risqué to print here, so I can’t help wondering: How does the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber compare with your own compositions? 

Actually, I grew up listening and performing Andrew Lloyd Webber material, and I love it, especially with an orchestra.  It was really thrilling to sing these songs at the Kennedy Center, though if MY songs were accompanied by an orchestra … who knows? I love that the Andrew Lloyd Webber songs are an awesome mix of theater and pop.

You’ve performed at both Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.  How did it feel being on two of the most prestigious stages in the United States? 

Dream come true. I guess a lot of my dreams have come true.  
Will this be your first time performing in Southern California? Any feelings about spending February in (hopefully) warmer climate?
I have performed a few shows (Les Miz, Grease, Tommy) in SoCal … and I am very happy to be there during the winter. 
What can audiences look forward to in The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber (besides the obvious answer, of course)?  

Some fantastic singing, beautiful performances, and an amazing orchestra!

You’ve got me there on Opening Night! Can’t wait to see the show!  

DAVID JOSEFSBERG’s Broadway credits include The Wedding Singer, Grease, Les Misérables and On The Twentieth Century. Off- Broadway credits include Altar Boyz (Drama League nomination), Joys of Sex and Night Blooming Jasmine. He has been touring both Europe and the United States for the past year with comedy legend, Stephen Lynch. He has been performing his own original material, as well as songs co-written with Lynch and Jeff Gurner (Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Vegas and Miami comedy festivals). Josefsberg was seen as TV icon Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli on NBC’s The Mork and Mindy Story, and in the films Limbo and Carlito’s Way. Josefsberg is rejoining The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber after most recently performing the show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.



 Photo: Ben Strothmann

Hi Kevin.  Let’s start with where you grew up.

I was born in Cincinnati and grew up right across the river in Northern Kentucky. 

So how did you first get involved in “the biz?”

As a kid I did modeling jobs and commercials for regional companies like Procter & Gamble and Kenner Toys. In fact, when I was five, I was pictured on the box of the R2D2 Star Wars figure!

Now that is a claim to fame! Were your parents involved in the theater?

My parents were not exactly theater folk but somehow they got us involved in some local shows. From the time I was six until I was in high school, I probably only did about four or five shows but it was enough to keep me interested in the arts.

So you knew you wanted to be an actor from the time you were a child?

It wasn’t until I attended St. Xavier High School, an amazing Jesuit school in Cincinnati, that I really knew that theater was my future.  I can count myself as one of many successful theater, film and television products to come out of the Theater Xavier program.  In fact, Tony Award winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who did 9 to 5 went there. And my brother Joey, who you may know from film and TV, went there as well.

Talent clearly runs in the Kern family!  And it seems that your high school really did play a role in shaping your future as a performer.

Theater Xavier made me realize that I could perform at a high level. I went to the NYU Music Program in what is now the Steinhard School.  I got a true classical base there as well as a lot of experience doing musical theater in the hyper-professional world of New York.  By the time I got out of school I was ready to go!  I was cast in Les Misérables after a year in grad school at NYU and from there it’s been all wine and roses. Except for the times it wasn’t!
Both you and your The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber costar David Josefsberg were in off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz, one of my very favorite musicals of recent years.  You had the daunting task of covering all five roles (including David’s) in the original company. Can you talk a bit about learning (and I hope) performing five such different roles?

I say to everyone who will listen that there is not a harder job in theater than being a swing.  Period.  I’ve been a swing in a few shows now, but nothing will ever compare to how challenging and rewarding Altar Boyz was.  I did get to perform all five parts, and it’s easily my most treasured accomplishment.  

So how did your Abraham compare to the original?

Actually I played the Jewish guy Abe better than Joberg. But don’t tell him that cause he won’t agree.

My lips are sealed, and hopefully he won’t read the other side of this interview. I see from the two of your bios that you both were also in the original company of The Wedding Singer.  Please don’t tell me that you can’t stand each other!  

I love working with Joberg.  (That’s what we call him). And we actually did Les Miz together too!

How do you compare joining a long-running show like Les Miz with being part of the original cast of The Wedding Singer?

Les Miz was special because it was my first Broadway show. Nothing will ever compare to that feeling.  I really grew up in that show.  I got married, had my first kid. I’ll never do a show like Les Miz ever again.  However, I always wanted to be in an original Broadway cast. And Wedding Singer was a rush every night. You feel like you’ve really made a mark on the epic history of this business when you’ve opened a new show on Broadway. 

Any special feelings about being the very last Marius in Les Miz? 

The birth of each of my three kids, the day I got married, and the day I found out I got into Les Miz are moments in my wife that are seared into my memory.  

What was that closing night like?

Another such memory was closing night of the show.  It was actually on my birthday, which was fun. Performing for an audience filled with people who had been in the show over the previous sixteen years was chill-inducing to say the least. Marius got to fall in love, fight a war, sing to a dying friend in his arms, save and be saved, and in the end was entrusted with passing on the tale. No role I have played is more emotionally rewarding than that!
When you took over the role of Fiyero in Wicked, how did you go about making that particular role your own?

I loved playing Fiyero because we have similar takes on life. I think what has always made me a good swing is that I don’t sweat the small stuff. Or most of the big stuff!  As long as I relaxed and tried to be myself … a surprisingly hard thing to do on stage sometimes … Fiyero came easily to me.
You’ve appeared in theaters in St. Louis, Sacramento, Virginia, Massachusetts, and here in L.A. in 9 to 5.  How does this compare with working in New York?

I have a love/hate relationship with this city.  Being from Kentucky, it doesn’t always offer me everything I need. But nowhere has a musical theater scene that comes close to here.  It’s a true, living American art form and it’s heart is in New York.
I saw 9 To 5 twice in L.A. and loved it. How was it working with that amazing trio of leading ladies—Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty, and Allison Janney?   And did you get to meet Dolly Parton?

9 to 5 was a blast.  I think it got a real bum wrap when it came to New York. I loved working on that show as much as loved the people in it.  Stephanie and Megan are superstars in the making and I’ve probably never worked with someone as equally as talented and humble as Allison.  She is who every performer should strive to be … both professionally and personally.

As for Dolly…  Did I mention I’m from Kentucky?  Where I’m from there are few people bigger than her.  I was blessed to just talk to her.  She’s an original … and nobody’s been able to make a copy!

This will be a return visit to Southern California for you. Any thoughts about making the West Coast your career base?

I love it in California. My brother lives here, I love the weather, and I could hopefully find work.  But theater is what I do and, as I said, its home for me is in New York.
What can audiences look forward to in The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber (besides the obvious answer, of course)?

I don’t know if people realize the caliber of performers that are in this show.  When ever I tell people who I’m doing this with they can’t believe it.  No one will leave this show disappointed!

A couple of hours with Broadway stars singing the music of Sir Andrew …  I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend an evening!  I can’t wait for opening night!

KEVIN KERN’s Broadway credits include Wicked (Fiyero), the original company of The Wedding Singer (Robbie standby) and Les Misérables (Marius). Recently, he was in the pre-Broadway production of 9 to 5 the Musical. Off-Broadway shows include Next to Normal at Second Stage (standby for Dan and Dr. Madden), Altar Boyz original company and Finian’s Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theatre (Woody). Recent regional productions include Grease (Danny) and Les Misérables (Marius) at St. Louis Muny.

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