Orange County’s own Marshal Kennedy Carolan returns to his Southern California roots in the First National Tour of the Broadway revival of HAIR, opening January 25 at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts in Costa Mesa.  Following his theater studies at the illustrious Cal State Fullerton, Marshal quickly turned pro, starring as Sky in the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia.  Now New York-based, Marshal’s credits include the title role in The Who’s Tommy, as well as productions of High School Musical, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cabaret, Anything Goes, and Pippin. A “Tribe” member (and Claude understudy), Marshal was gracious enough to take time out of his busy performance schedule to chat with us about the latest leg of the HAIR tour, and one with special meaning for this OC boy turned musical theater star.


Marshal, you studied theater at Cal State Fullerton, so the Segerstrom stop is a return home for you. Were you born in Orange County?
I was born in Ontario, but my family moved to Yorba Linda a year later and has been there ever since. I went to Servite High School in Anaheim. 

So when did you first decide that you wanted a career in musical theater?  

My senior year I tried out for the Tri-School theater program and surprised myself with how much fun it was.  I think that was the first taste. 

What was the very first show you did as a young musical theater performer? 

The first show I did was How To Succeed in Business. After that, I think I was addicted.

What was it about CSUF’s theater program that attracted you to it?

Well to be honest, I wasn’t ready to move far away from home.  I was comfortable in OC and didn’t want to give that up yet. I got really lucky with CSUF, because I honestly didn’t know how great the program was until I was there. 

Marshal (kneeling r.) in CSUF’s Anything Goes

How did attending classes and appearing in student productions there prepare you for your career in musical theater? 

I think CSUF has a great competitive edge to it, taking only nine people into the program out of the many who apply. It gave me the sense of fighting for something instead of just the “luck” factor. The shows we did there were challenging and helped us realize how much work actually goes into this career. 

How soon after you finished CSUF did you make the move to New York?  

Our senior BFA class was the first to have a showcase in New York in front of casting directors, agents, etc.  We were stoked. A casting director from Mamma Mia was there and I was offered a role in their Vegas production.  It was a gradual start heading to the East Coast. Then, after the show closed I moved to NYC right away. 

Was there ever any question in your mind that you wanted to be an East Coast (and not West Coast)-based performer?  

I love the West Coast but New York is the place for me.  I really feel comfortable there. There’s great support for theater actors out there.  I think the “life” of an actor in NYC is always challenging. It’s a constant roller coaster ride with the highs and lows, but that’s what keeps you on your toes.  You can never take anything for granted.

Marshal as Tommy in The Who’s Tommy

Among your biggest credits so far, you played the title role in The Who’s Tommy for the Revision Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ. What was that experience like for you? 

Revision Theatre is one of the best theaters I’ve worked for.  The show was in an abandoned carousel house on the beach. Before my first entrance I could hear and see the waves crashing. It was perfect.  The people there are so great and put on such a great show.  It was one of the best summers of my life.  Not many actors can finish a show and jump in the ocean to cool off.

I’ve seen a few pictures of you in the role and I wonder how you keep in such amazing shape. Does this come naturally to you as a dancer, or do you have to work at it? 

Ha!  First off, thank you. Well when I was Sky in Mamma Mia, they strip me down on stage to briefs.  When I found that out, I changed my eating and workout completely and have tried to stay that way.  It’s definitely work. I wish I was a fast food eater that just had good metabolism!

Marshal as Sky in Mamma Mia with Moriah Angeline as Sophie

Talk a bit more about Mamma Mia. Since you did that show right out of college, it must have been quite a learning experience for you.

I learned a lot from Mamma Mia.  It was my first professional show and just getting used to seven shows a week alone was a lesson in itself. It was a great start too. Ninety percent of my cast was from NYC so by the time I got out to the East Coast, I had already established a close circle of friends. It was tough to say goodbye to that production because it was a whole new world after that.

Marshal among the Brothers in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

High School Musical, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cabaret, Anything Goes, and Pippin are also shows you’ve appeared in.  Any particular favorite or favorites among them, and why? 

I’ve been really lucky in the fact I have loved every show I have done.  I still think that Tommy and HAIR are two of my favorites. But I’ve seen some great cities and met some great people with every show.  They all have such a separate energy, almost like relationships you have with individual friends, if that makes any sense.  They’re all great but very different.

Marshal and the “Tribe” in the National Tour of HAIR (photos: Joan Marcus)

Is HAIR your first National Tour?  

Yes, it is.  

How long have you been with the show?

I started right at the beginning, rehearsing in New York and then opening at the Kennedy Center in DC, which was awesome. 

How has the touring experience been for you? 

Touring has been great.  You get to see some really beautiful cities and experience places you would never go to on your own. 

What would you say are the best and worst parts of doing a National Tour?

The best part for me is the different styles of food!  The worst part I would say is never going “home” at night. ButI can’t complain because I do really love it.

You play a member of The Tribe.  What kind of research did you do into the turbulent 1960s that serve as a background for HAIR’s iconic plot and characters? 

Diane Paulus, our director, had us do a lot of research. I never liked looking on the Internet because I felt like it was generic information that are the clichés of the generation almost. I wrote to my grandparents about their experiences during the time. In New York, a lot of people were having garage sales in the Village, so I accumulated about ten different vintage Evergreen Magazines which were all published in 1967.  Those had the most information for me. 

Are you covering any of the show’s featured roles?

Yes, I cover Claude. I haven’t gone on yet, but I’m sure one day I will get that call.  

Is this your first time understudying a major role? 

I’ve done a couple understudies before this show, and it keeps you on your toes!  It’s really exciting to get the phone call!

Any favorite cities so far on the tour?  

I really loved DC. To be able to say that I performed HAIR at the Kennedy Center is pretty cool. 

How does it feel coming back to Orange County where you studied as an undergrad? 

It feels great! 

Did you see shows at OCPAC (newly rechristened the Segerstrom Center For The Arts) while a student at Cal State Fullerton?  

I used to go see shows at OCPAC and write papers on them for class all the time.  Now to be on the other side feels really nice.  Some of my teachers and friends have already seen it in LA but I know there will be a ton of familiar faces in the Orange County audience. 

If all your performing dreams could come true, what kind of future career would you plan for yourself? 

This is a good question, and a tough one.  I would love to have a happy and stable career. I never came into the business with fame as the intention. I really just love performing. If my career takes off from here, I won’t complain.  But just as long as it kept me focused and happy, I’ll take it. 

Thanks so much Marshal for taking the time to answer these questions!  I look forward to saying Hi on Opening Night!

Thank you! These were great questions!

Click here to order tickets to Hair at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts.

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