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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Jenkins: Seeberg investigation had ‘integrity’

first_img Jenkins said there is always a potential to improve investigations. Seeberg, a first year Saint Mary’s student, alleged that a Notre Dame student athlete sexually assaulted her on Aug. 31. She committed suicide Sept. 10. Seeberg e-mailed that statement to the officer at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 5. Because the following day was Labor Day, Brown said the officer did not view the new statement until Sept. 7, at which time he found inconsistencies with the other two students’ statements. “The investigation was thorough and careful and I believe that that needs to be understood by all,” Jenkins told The South Bend Tribune. “The main point I want to make is the investigation had integrity. It followed the facts where it led and any results were based on that sort of investigation.” University spokesman Dennis Brown said because Notre Dame takes FERPA seriously, it has a policy of not publicly acknowledging the presence of disciplinary investigations. The NDSP officer contacted the accused student on Sept. 9, but the student did not return the phone call. The University worked with the accused student in the case of Seeberg’s allegations, however, and decided to speak about the investigation, Brown said. The officer learned on Sept. 11, a Saturday, that the Sept. 10 suicide of a Saint Mary’s student was Seeberg. On Monday, Sept. 13, Brown said the officer contacted other local law enforcement agencies because the death changed the perspective of the investigation. He also tried again to contact the accused student. The accused student met with the NDSP officer on Sept. 15. “I am the ultimate court of appeal in disciplinary matters and, consequently, I tried to remain somewhat distant so I am not tainted by one side or another presenting their side of the story,” Jenkins told The South Bend Tribune. On Sept. 1, Brown said Seeberg went to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center to report a Notre Dame student-athlete assaulted her while they were in his dorm room on the evening of Aug. 31. A Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) officer, who Brown said has over 35 years of experience and has investigated over 200 sex crime allegations, met Seeberg at the hospital that evening and took a handwritten statement. Seeberg’s statement said the two male students appeared to text message one another, and then the male student and Saint Mary’s student left the room. According to Chicago attorney Joseph A. Power, Jr., who is representing the accused student, cell phone records that NDSP obtained for the investigation show that this text messaging did not occur. Beyond the Seeberg investigation, Brown said the University is working with the U.S. Department of Education on an overall review of its policies. This review is not related to any specific case. “Only Ms. Seeberg and the student-athlete were present during the alleged battery,” the release stated. “Conflicts exist among the witnesses’ accounts of the events given to the police. Subpoenaed cell phone records are inconsistent with parts of the complaint itself.” Jenkins said the University allows the prosecutor to make a conclusion on charges before determining whether to proceed with an internal disciplinary process. Brown said the University has not yet decided whether to hold a disciplinary hearing. The next day, Seeberg asked the officer for a copy of her original statement and said she would like to submit a second statement. According to Brown, Corr read the letter and also sent it to NDSP. Because Jenkins and Doyle could ultimately serve as levels of appeal in the University’s disciplinary process, they did not read the letter. While waiting for Seeberg’s second statement, Brown said the officer spoke with two students who had been with Seeberg and the accused student the evening of the alleged assault. “I’m certain, we can always improve,” he said, “but I am confident that this investigation was done with integrity. We followed the facts where they led. We achieved a sound result.” The University will work with the prosecutor’s office to decide whether to begin forwarding every investigation into sexual assault allegations, Brown said. The December press release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office on its decision not to prosecute also cited inconsistencies in the statements. Doyle met Lizzy’s father Tom Seeberg on Sept. 13 at a memorial Mass for Lizzy on Saint Mary’s campus. Since that time, Brown said Doyle maintained regular contact with Tom Seeberg. Tom Seeberg declined to comment. According to a Dec. 16 press release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, Seeberg alleged sexual battery, or forced touching of her breasts. Seeberg did not make an allegation of rape. The Seeberg family, through media outlets such as ABC News and The Chicago Tribune, expressed concern with the two-week period between the original allegation and the meeting with the accused student. In his interview with The South Bend Tribune, Jenkins cited the inconsistencies between the students’ statements as reason for the delay. The University had previously declined to comment on the topic, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits colleges and universities from discussing students’ education records. Seeberg alleged that the male student-athlete then kissed her and touched her breasts, then threw her aside when he received a text message or phone call. Power said the text messages showed neither a text message nor incoming phone call at that time. He said the statements from the other three students and the subpoenaed cell phone records support a phone call from the accused student to the other male student. According to Power, Seeberg’s statement was inconsistent with those of the three other students, who said the phone call was placed because the accused student wanted the other two students to return to the room. “I think it’s important that people recognize that the evidence shows one phone call,” Power said. “And that’s from the [accused student] from his phone to the dorm mate.” According to the statements from Seeberg, she was with the accused student, a Saint Mary’s student and another male Notre Dame student in a men’s residence hall at Notre Dame on the evening of Aug. 31. He also said NDSP normally does not send reports to St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office if the student filing an allegation does not request that it be forwarded. Seeberg had not expressed an interest in sending the report to the prosecutor, but the University did choose to forward the investigation results. In November, Seeberg’s parents sent a letter through their attorney to Jenkins, Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Tom Doyle and Notre Dame general counsel Marianne Corr. “We think the principle of privacy is so important that we’re willing to take some of the criticism that comes with that,” Brown said. “We’ll work with the prosecutor on that and try to determine what practice we should follow going forward,” he said. Following media coverage of sexual assault allegations made by Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg and an announcement from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office that no charges would be filed, the University called its investigation “thorough and careful.” “As you know it’s unusual and perhaps unprecedented for me to comment on a case like this,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in a Dec. 21 interview with The South Bend Tribune. “But I cannot stand by and allow the integrity of Notre Dame to be challenged so publicly.” “We conducted an investigation, I think, that was judicious and fair to all parties involved,” Jenkins said. “We grieve for the Seebergs, for the loss of their daughter. At the same time, we have to follow the facts where they lead.”last_img read more

SPARK grad launches business

first_imgGail Hickey launched her new small business, The Bend Executive Shuttle, on Aug. 19 after successfully completing the SPARK program at Saint Mary’s College, an 11-week program sponsored by Saint Mary’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) that helps South Bend women gain business skills to succeed.Hickey has been an independent contractor in the South Bend area for the past six years. She developed a relationship between Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame and as a result obtained a large clientele, which gave her the idea to create her own shuttle company, Hickey said.“Because I was already an independent contractor, it was a very easy transition,” Hickey said. “But I needed things that I wasn’t privy to as far as business plan writing and things of that sort, which is why I ended up coming [to Saint Mary’s] to the SPARK program.”Hickey said her service is not just another cab company.“It is going to be a little more than [people] normally expect,” she said. “We do a lot more for our clients than other cab companies do and even more so than limos do. People have even called my service a ‘rolling concierge.’”In order to get the company off the ground, Hickey needed to learn how to write a business plan, develop social media and develop a capital for herself, she said.“There is a lot to put together and they give you all the tools,” Hickey said. “It’s not just the paper that they give you, but the camaraderie and the friendships you develop. It’s people that have the same vision as you do for wanting to be a woman in business, and you feed off that energy and it’s fabulous. … I would recommend it highly to anybody, and I have.”SPARK has three phases starting with an orientation session for anyone with a viable business idea and willingness to launch that business and they get selected, Martha Smith, WEI project director said.“Just because you apply to the program doesn’t mean you’ll be accepted,” Smith said. “We have a minimum of eight participants that we take in and a maximum of 14. The more likely they are to launch that business, the more likely they are to get accepted.”After orientation the 11-week course begins, meeting twice a week, Smith said. Community members with business expertise such as CPAs, lawyers, business owners, psychologists and social workers teach the classes.“We prefer that people with expertise in that particular area teach the class,” Smith said. “They give you their business card … they really, really want to help.Graduation follows the 11-week course, Smith said.“It’s a big high for everyone and then reality sets in — this is a lot of work and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Smith said. “At the end of the 11 weeks, there’s two features they end up with: a business plan and increased self-confidence.”Rekindle the Flame is the third component to SPARK, Smith said. Participants meet once a month at the college and have an educational component for one hour and one hour of networking. They discuss success stories and lessons they have learned.“This exchange is give and take, and once a year we have a retreat,” Smith said. “Everyone comes in together and again we celebrate successes and we learn from each other. ‘What could have been done better?’ or ‘How do we go forward?’ or ‘How do we tweak the idea so that you can too become a success story?’”Eighty-one women have gone through the SPARK and SPARKart program since 2011, Smith said. Hickey’s class was the most successful class thus far.“The neatest thing is that I’m a business owner,” Hickey said. “It brings tears to my eyes because I own my own business. That is so hard to do nowadays and I just thank God every day that I am a business owner. To be able to go into a company and tell them what I do and hand them my business card and have it say owner, that’s huge.”Saint Mary’s provides a connection to the SCORE program post-graduation. SCORE is a program sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide advice to small business owners.“They end the program and they end up with a business plan to do it and then SCORE takes over,” Smith said. “It’s a service that they don’t charge for and very few people take advantage of it. There’s a retired professor from Saint Mary’s, who is a SCORE advisor, and he connected us with SCORE.“It’s all Saint Mary’s connections that we offer to them. Saint Mary’s offers the connections and the network so they can be successful.”“The main feature [of SPARK] is that it is for women only,” Smith said. “It’s women helping women, that is our distinction. We take a woman whose business idea is viable and wishes to launch that business, regardless of where they come from.”Tags: SPARK, The Bend Executive Shuttlelast_img read more

Students, fans travel to Boston for Shamrock Series

first_imgEmily McConville | The Observer A group of students cheer on the Irish against Purdue in the Shamrock Series at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 13, 2014.Because Fenway Park is a smaller venue, there weren’t as many student tickets available this year, and students who did receive a ticket in the lottery were all the more excited.“I’m a huge Boston sports fan, so being able to go watch Notre Dame play in Fenway Park is going to be awesome,” sophomore Kate Davin said. “As I found out last year that the game was going to be against BC in Fenway I was like, ‘Wow, I’d love to go to that,’ but I didn’t think I’d be able to get tickets. … So [when I did] I was really excited, and I didn’t shut up about it for a couple days. I just love Boston, it’s my favorite city, and so I’m really excited to be able to go back and be in Fenway, see my family and stuff. So just the whole experience, the atmosphere is going to be great.”Doran also said he’s excited about the atmosphere in Boston.“It’s a great sports town; they have a ton of passion for their teams, and I think that’s obvious for anyone who’s ever even been to the city,” he said. “The city is going to be insane, and I can’t wait. The atmosphere in the city is going to be buzzing.”In addition to the football game itself, the Shamrock Series includes several other academic and service events, such as a reimagining of the Boston Massacre trial by Notre Dame and Boston College law students on Thursday night, a Welcome to Boston party and the Alumni Association service project held at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon.“When the University decided to create this idea of taking our team on the road as a home game — the Shamrock Series — [University President] Fr. John Jenkins said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to take all of ND with us, not just the athletics side of our University.’ The motto is, ‘How do we leave Boston a little bit better, a little bit brighter, a little more cared for, because that’s who Notre Dame is,’” Angie Appleby Purcell, the Alumni Association’s Spirituality Program director, said. “The Shamrock Series has always been a very integrated type of weekend, so that really, by the time you hit the football game so much has happened that reflects the University’s larger mission academically, spiritually, in terms of service and care for others.”According to the Notre Dame Game Day website, the service project was originally limited to the first 85 volunteers, but because of the high interest in the event, Appleby Purcell said that number has been raised to 140 volunteers with a wait list of about 40 more people.“I am not at all surprised that we have this wonderful situation because our alumni, and our parents and fans very much want to serve, they want to make a difference in the world,” Appleby Purcell said. “I’m always humbled and just so proud that our community has priorities in terms of giving of their time and talent to serve others who are in need.”The final event before the tailgating begins is a Mass presided over by Jenkins on Saturday morning at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.“This is the heart of the University in terms of who we are as a Catholic University and our spiritual life,” Appleby Purcell said. “The mass is just another appropriate way in which we come together as a community, a community of faith to pray and to worship.”Appleby Purcell said between the game itself and the activities surrounding it, there is something for every member of the Notre Dame family to enjoy.“We could just look at this as a football game, but at the end of the day, what’s important to the University is that we come, that we share who we are and we offer our resources — whether that be academic and intellectual resources, spiritual resources, labor resources to help others and to make people feel welcome wherever we go,” she said. “It’s not just about the football, although that’s fun and part of it, but it’s more for us as a University, and we want to make sure it’s experienced by everyone.”Tags: Alumni Association, Game Day, Shamrock Series Notre Dame students, alumni and fans will be shipping up to Boston this weekend for the 2015 Shamrock Series.The No. 4 Fighting Irish will take on Boston College on Saturday at Fenway Park in Boston in the seventh annual Shamrock Series game. Senior leprechaun John Doran said the series is a great opportunity for fans who might not be able to make it to South Bend to see a Notre Dame football game.“I think the Shamrock Series does a good job of getting the people that maybe can’t get out to Notre Dame but are huge Notre Dame fans,” Doran said. “We’ll bring it to them. There are thousands of Notre Dame fans in the northeast, so being able to have a Notre Dame game there — when there’s more tickets available than the 5,000 we would get if we played at Syracuse or if we played at BC — it’s pretty nice to be able to fill up a stadium with that and give people more access.”last_img read more

SMC president speaks on sustainability

first_imgSaint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli spoke Monday about the importance and necessity of sustainability in the world today.Cervelli spoke on Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si’ and said the Pope did a great job explaining the complexity of environmental issues.  “I think Francis hits on the head that many of the problems we see today around sustainability are not simple, they are multi-dimensional,” Cervelli said.Cervelli said the issue of environmental conservation is much more than just the environment and that it affects so many other aspects of our lives. “The first part about environmental, economic and social ecology is how they’re all interconnected. We can’t look at them separately,” Cervelli said.Cervelli said colleges like Saint Mary’s can take steps towards dealing with sustainability issues by thinking of academics as integrated learning spaces and looking at the issues as issues of social justice.  “I have some hopes and dreams for the college and for all of you, and to think about academic programs that take this approach solving problems,” Cervelli said. “It’s not just the environment, it’s dealing with the social justice dimensions as well that we’re so passionate about at Saint Mary’s.”Cervelli said that progress can only happen once people share information and communicate with each other, no matter the field. “Many of our problems today follow the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information [that] can actually become a form of ignorance,” Cervelli said. “So many of you are studying in very fine departments with very fine faculty; one of our goals is to work across departments, and be able to talk from science over to humanities.”Cervelli spoke about one of her personal heroes, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted designed Central Park in New York City and Cervelli said he put parks in cities because it made the cities more livable. “He had a strong belief, as does Pope Francis, in the healing power of nature. It’s the unconscious reflecting, it’s that ability to escape,” she said. “He believed it’s one of the more important responsibilities of the government to provide these spaces.”Cervelli said that Olmsted and Pope Francis are similar in their beliefs for the importance of the common good. “Francis talks a lot about human health and wellness and how it comes out of the environment, but what comes out of it are human interactions, with each other, socially,” Cervelli said. “Frederick Law Olmsted believed back in 1852 that nature has a direct impact on healing of humans.”Cervelli said Americans should be very proud that the first idea of a national park was born in the United States.  “That spawned the conservation movement,” Cervelli said. “And I’m afraid often times it’s not even taught in schools. The ideas of land conservation, and perpetuity for everyone and to protect our environment [and] essentially ourselves.”Tags: cervelli, conservation, president, sustainabilitylast_img read more

Record 20.5 Million American Jobs Lost In April

first_imgMGN ImageWASHINGTON – With much of the American economy in self-imposed shutdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, April’s colossal surge in unemployment delivered a historic blow to workers.The US economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday — by far the most sudden and largest decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939.Those losses follow steep cutbacks in March as well, when employers slashed 870,000 jobs. Those two months amount to layoffs so severe, they moire than double the 8.7 million jobs lost during the financial crisis.For many Americans who lost their jobs and their homes in the 2008 financial crisis, this moment reopens old wounds. It took years to rebound from those setbacks. When the economy eventually did crawl back, US employers added 22.8 million jobs over 10 years — a victory for all those who had weathered the Great Recession. Now, the coronavirus pandemic stings not only because of the public health crisis it has inflicted — but also because it wiped out that decade of job gains in just two months. The unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the BLS started recording the monthly rate in 1948. The last time American joblessness was that severe was the Great Depression: The unemployment rate peaked at 24.9% in 1933, according to historical annual estimates from the BLS. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Cuomo Administration To Fight Court Ruling That OK’s 50% Wedding Capacity

first_imgPexels Stock Image.ALBANY – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration plans to fight a court ruling that said limits on the size of parties for weddings or receptions violated the U.S. Constitution.A couple sued to have their wedding in Akron with more than the 50 people allowed under the Governor’s Executive Order.They say the rules of reduced capacity for a restaurant should have applied to their big day.“The governor laid out his argument very clearly on the difference between attending a wedding versus going to a restaurant and we’re going to continue to pursue that in court,” said New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday. “Our objective is to protect New Yorkers from the spread of infection.” A federal judge in Syracuse issued a preliminary injunction against the state and county.The ruling allows wedding reception halls to operate at the same level of service as restaurants, which is 50 percent capacity for indoor dining.The State’s initial order only allowed up to 50 people attend the wedding. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Winter Storm Janus Update: The Shows Went On, Some Offering Exchanges

first_img At this time, the following Broadway productions are offering exchanges for their January 22 matinee performance up until three hours prior to curtain: Newsies At this time, the following Broadway productions are offering exchanges for their January 22 matinee performance up until two hours prior to curtain: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder A Night with Janis Joplin Beautiful Cinderella Matilda Once The Glass Menagerie The Phantom of the Opera Twelfth Night Waiting for Godot Chicago Mamma Mia Pippin The Bridges of Madison County Jersey Boys Kinky Boots Rock of Ages The Book of Mormon Wicked Bronx Bombers     After Midnight Motown Theatre Row Winter Storm Janus may have blanketed the Great White Way in the white stuff, but according to the Broadway League, all Broadway and off-Broadway shows played as planned January 21 and will do so January 22. At this time, the following Broadway productions are offering exchanges for their January 21 evening performance up until 3PM January 22: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder A Night with Janis Joplin Cinderella Matilda Once The Glass Menagerie The Phantom of the Opera Twelfth Night Waiting for Godot Chicago Mamma Mia Pippin The Bridges of Madison County Beautiful At this time, the following Broadway productions are no longer offering exchanges for the January 21 performance: Kinky Boots Rock of AgesThe Book of Mormon Wicked Bronx Bombers Newsies Theatre Rowcenter_img If you have purchased tickets through Broadway.com and wish to exchange, please call 1-800-BROADWAY or 212-541-8457 View Commentslast_img read more

Jersey Boys Are Teleporting! Here Are Eight Places They Could Go

first_img Related Shows 3. Next to some hay Those satin jackets sure are soft… Right, Lennie? 7. Chilling with Olaf Who needs a streetlamp to sing under when you’ve got a giant snowman? No one, that’s who. No one. 4. With a giraffe Who wouldn’t want to go on safari with four crooning dudes? Plus, they’d add some killer four-part harmony to “Hakuna Matata.” 5. At Emerson’s Bar and Grill Hey Billie Holiday, it’s OK—while you take your booze break, the Four Seasons are happy to fill in. A new poster for the Jersey Boys movie has been released (check it out below, to the right) and it looks awesome—but wait just a minute! Doesn’t it look an awful lot like the poster the film released in April (bottom left)? In fact, the guys are in the exact same positions, just standing in front of some bar instead of a brick building. The only explanation is teleportation. Since Frankie Valli and his crew obviously have superpowers, we thought they might want to hang out with The Bridges of Madison County’s Francesca and Robert while they’re uh, getting down to business. Below, check out some other fun places the Jersey Boys guys could travel to. Movie execs, take note. 2. In the ring with Rocky Forget “Eye of the Tiger.” The Italian Stallion’s new theme song should be “Bye Bye Baby.”center_img 6. At the beach Fine, this isn’t from a show, but how adorable do Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons look all dressed up in their bright green vacation jackets? View Comments 1. Storming the barricades You know what those passionate revolutionaries need? Some fighting music. May we suggest “Walk Like a Man”? Jersey Boys from $59.00last_img read more

Kelli Barrett Is Wicked’s Newest Nessarose

first_img View Comments Barrett has previously appeared on Broadway in Baby It’s You! and The Royal Family. She originated the role of Sherrie in the off-Broadway production of Rock of Ages. Fun fact: Barrett is engaged to Beautiful Tony nominee Jarrod Spector, who was full of adorable puns and excitement for her new gig on Twitter. In addition to Barrett, Wicked currently stars Christine Dwyer as Elphaba, Jenni Barber as Glinda, Justin Guarini as Fiyero, PJ Benjamin as The Wizard, Mary Testa as Madame Morrible, Michael Wartella as Boq and K. Todd Freedman as Dr. Dillamond. Directed by Joe Mantello, the hit musical features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. Related Shows Broadway favorite Kelli Barrett has joined the Great White Way company of Wicked, having begun performances as Nessarose on May 27. Barrett takes over for Catherine Charlebois. Wicked from $95.00last_img read more

London Assassins Star Mike McShane on ‘Thin Dude’ Aaron Tveit & More

first_img Assassins composer Stephen Sondheim attended an early performance—how nerve-wracking was that? We didn’t know he was going to be there, but just before I went onstage, someone said to me, “make sure you’re careful with your signage; don’t hit anybody with what you’re carrying.” All of a sudden I thought, “something’s going on,” and I got very nervous. View Comments We’re very happy to have you at the Menier in one of the finest musical theatre ensembles I can remember. Thank you! This is one of the best companies I’ve ever been part of in my life. The nature of how it’s performed is that we feed off one another. I’m an improviser as well as an actor, so to be fed by Aaron Tveit or Catherine Tate is to be getting a four-course meal of the highest quality. Jamie Lloyd’s blistering production of the Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman musical Assassins is hurtling into its final month at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and is about to welcome two new cast members: Michael Xavier and Anna Francolini, who succeed Aaron Tveit and Catherine Tate, respectively (though Tate will return for the final two weeks). What better time to chat with company stalwart Mike McShane, whose devastating performance as the deranged Sam Byck is among the show’s highlights? Broadway.com caught the comedy circuit and film regular one recent afternoon and found the irrepressible performer in typically expansive mood. Both of whom are leaving the production, though Catherine is coming back for the final two weeks. Will you miss Aaron? I can hardly wait till he’s gone, I f*cking hate him [laughs]. No, of course, I’m real sad. He’s a brilliant actor and a decent dude who happens to be incredibly talented and good-looking and that’s why I hate him so much! We’re all going to miss him. In the decades since, that improbability has become a horrifying reality. Yes, and when I talk about dropping a plane on the president, you can feel the temperature in the audience shift; you can almost hear the Americans in the house holding their breath since that notion means something different to us now. Was Harvey a real mensch? Oh, he was, while also displaying this sharp critical mind about queer history and theater history, and I would just sit there and pick his brains. My cat died during the show, and the cat was 22-years-old so when it went, that was a big deal for me. I was a mess, actually, but Harvey just sat me down and talked to me. I’m especially fond of that memory. What was Mr. Sondheim’s review? He was so generous and sweet, and so affirming about where Jamie [Lloyd, director] and we were going with it. It was a good boost in the arm to us. He’s been back to see it three times, so we’re chuffed. I count myself a very lucky American on many levels and one of them is that I got to have Shakespeare, as I call our composer, come watch me in his work. You bring Samuel Byck to vivid life—do you envision him as an American misfit version of Sweeney Todd? Both Byck and Sweeney Todd—or Benjamin Barker—have that horrible unrequited anger that they don’t know what to do with, and the thing with Byck is that nobody wants to hear or listen to him which only intensifies his need to be heard, so he goes on the attack. It’s all there in what Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Weidman have written. Sondheim is the master, he really is.center_img I don’t envy the Menier box office having to deal with Aaron fans who discover he’s leaving February 8. There are some gals in the audience who are only there to see Aaron and he could be standing there shaving a cat and wearing a dunce cap and they would pay money to see that. But there are others, as well. There was one girl who came up to me afterwards and said, “Are all musicals like this?” and I said to her, “No they’re not. Make a note of the name Stephen Sondheim and have a look at this guy’s music.” Have you bought him a farewell gift? I have, in fact. It’s a really cool David Bowie t-shirt that he’s just the right sort of thin dude to wear. I certainly couldn’t; it wouldn’t give off the right vibe [laughs]. Do you think there could be a Sweeney Todd in your future? [Laughs.] Aside from whether I’d ever begin to be able to sing it, I don’t think so. I’m more Beadle Bamford territory now. It would be wonderful to see this production in New York. Do you think that could happen? That would be great but can’t you just see the Fox News headline: “American-hating British company comes to do American-hating musical written by American-hating Jew.” We live in difficult times. What amazes me is how quickly the cast emerges into the theater bar after the show given how bruising the material is. The Brits have this amazing sensibility about show business probably because they’ve been doing it since some dude picked up a lyre and said, “Here’s a song about Beowulf,” so there’s very little of that bullsh*t. Jamie Parker [the Balladeer] may feel like he’s ripped his guts out and then he goes downstairs and sees his wife and kid. You play a guy who attempted to crash a plane into the Nixon White House in 1974. Do you remember the real incident? I remember us joking about it then, strangely enough. I was 19 and in the service, so I was aware of it only in passing, but at that point in our history nobody had got a plane up in the air in order to crash it as a weapon. If he had succeeded, God knows what would have happened to our country then. Any memories that come to mind about your time on Broadway? I did a play with Matthew Broderick called Taller than a Dwarf [in 2000] where we had two opposing directors: Alan Arkin who was there to direct it and our writer, Elaine May, who tried to direct it. I did La Cage when Harvey [Fierstein] came in with Jeffrey Tambor, who left for reasons that remain locked forever in a secret vault. But what was great was that I got to meet Chris Sieber, who took over. That was the first time they’d actually had two gay men in those roles.last_img read more