"I'm not one of those people who just sings in the shower," Mo Brady declares during a break from rehearsals. "I'm walking up and down Pike singing along to whatever's on my iPod. And doing it loudly. I sing all the time."
Brady is like somebody out of a '50s family-oriented television sitcom. Wholesome good looks, endearing personality, and capable of playing adorably awkward characters? You betcha.
The 28-year-old actorâ€"who looks and comes off much youngerâ€"has earned notoriety in quirky supporting roles in productions at the 5th Avenue Theatre and Seattle Children's Theatre. In Hello, Dolly!, he portrayed Barnaby, a determined store clerk who travels to, and refuses to leave, New York until he sees a stuffed whale in a museum and kisses a girl. And in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, he was a bumbling boy smitten by a girl he meets at a social. Brady is never cast in a lead roleâ€"but he's the one audience members fall in love with and remember.
"I usually end up playing the 16- and 21-year-old nerds," Brady acknowledges. "On the page, these aren't always real people. They're setups for jokes. But I try to create something out of them that people can believe in and will have empathy for."
That he does exceptionally well. Partly because he's dedicated to his craft, spending 50 hours a week rehearsing for a production, as well as clocking in additional time at the gym and in dance classes. Also partly because he has no qualms about being consistently cast in an ensemble or as a supporting character. In fact, he embraces it.
"I never wanted to be a soloist," Brady says. "I like it when I make a sound, and then you make a sound, and then we bring these sounds together...that's what feels good. That's what I loveâ€"to play off each other and create something that's much bigger than ourselves."
Brady can currently be seen as part of the ensemble in Catch Me If You Can, a new musical adaptation of the 2002 film premiering at the 5th Avenue this week. "It's such a gift to have a part in something like this, with all the big names in American theater," he enthuses. "It feels like the coolest thing in the world. I keep leaning over to my buddies during rehearsals and going, 'Heyâ€"we're in the play.'"
It's probably the least cool thing he could say. But that earnestness makes him so damn entertaining to work with and watch perform.
"I'm not the best actor, singer, or dancer in Seattle by any stretch," he says, laughing. "But if you want someone who's willing to give a role everything they've got and will fall on their face over and over again to get it rightâ€"well, in that case, I'm your guy. And it just so happens I play a lot of characters that fall down a lot."â€"Erika Hobart