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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23
YouTube sensation Ryan O'Connor hits Seattle
Arts & Entertainment
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YouTube sensation Ryan O'Connor hits Seattle

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings
June 9
Julia's on Broadway


Actor, cabaret singer, comedian, and YouTube star Ryan O'Connor is bringing his west coast theatrical hit Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings to Julia's on Broadway on June 9. O'Connor's critically acclaimed cabaret thrill ride broke records at Hollywood's Celebration Theatre this past February and received back-by-popular-demand second run accolades from Broadway luminaries and press alike. SGN caught up with O'Connor to discuss what Seattle can expect when the entertainer performs, for the first time, in the Emerald City.

"My favorite thing about live performance is the spontaneity," O'Connor told SGN. "There is such an energy that only exists in live performance. My show is not 100% scripted, so the show is never the same twice. I tell the same stories and sing the same songs each show, but it is the energy that I get from the audience that dictates the tone of that performance. If you heckle me, I'll talk to you - that's not a dare! [Laughs.] But I do like the show to feel like a conversation between myself and the audience in front of me."

O'Connor became best known for his hilarious YouTube videos. "Being on YouTube is a very interesting type of 'fame.' It's very insulated," he said. "And, much like television, people watch you in their home, often on their laps [via laptops], so it can be a very personal relationship for them & to them, I am someone who is a regular part of their life. It's a real honor to be a regular part of someone's life like that. It makes doing silly web videos feel like it has a bigger purpose."

O'Connor says that his live show, Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings, is totally different from his web show. "Same sense of humor, and same off-the-cuff improvisation," he explained, adding, "but it really is a one-man musical."

Ryan O'Connor Eats His Feelings is a dynamic, hilarious, and oddly touching musical journey told through song and story where O'Connor candidly shares his life: his childhood and adolescence in conservative Arizona and the trials and tribulations as an actor in New York City and Hollywood; his loves: relationship with his boyfriend, a Mormon, ex-college football star from Salt Lake City and self-proclaimed proud "chubby chaser"; and his lusts: for everything theater and food, candidly revealing his struggles as a compulsive overeater.

"I take pride in never alienating my audience. I have taken careful steps to insure that everyone can enjoy the show, from a die-hard musical fan to a confirmed musical hater," O'Connor told SGN. "I have a mission to break every stereotype associated with musical theatre and cabaret, that's why it was so important to me to do music by unknown or up-and-coming composers and out-of-the-box cover songs, like Ani DiFranco."

O'Connor's June 9 appearance at Julia's on Broadway will mark the first time the entertainer has performed for a Seattle audience. "I was supposed to take a trip to Seattle with my show choir my sophomore year in high school," he recalled, "but wasn't allowed to because of poor grades. So, finally, coming to Seattle feels like real closure for the 'Gleek' inside me!"

"For my Seattle show, my accompanist will be the incredible Shelly Bort, who is a fellow YouTube celebrity and worth coming out for," he said. "She is truly wonderful and will be a really exciting edition to the show."

Also joining O'Connor onstage is his backup singer and comedy cohort, Lucas Coatney. "We've been best friends since we were kids. The irony of him being my backup singer is that he is actually a far superior singer to me," joked O'Connor. "But the main reason I have him onstage is to have someone to play off of. We have the exact same sense of humor and he knows how to call me out when he needs to. If a joke bombs, or if I hit a flat note, he has no problem telling me in front of a live audience. I love that, and so does the audience. It's all about the honesty."

O'Connor is openly Gay, and according to him, has been since he was 14. "Being Gay has been an afterthought in my life ever since I was a teenager. Realizing you're Gay while simultaneously going through puberty can do wonders for a kid," O'Connor said. "I was really flamboyant as a teenager, and have since really found my true identity and toned it down. I'm not gonna win any masculinity awards anytime soon, but I feel pretty average in that department."

"I have never had any negative response to my sexual orientation from my audiences, but I also haven't been asked," he said. "I never say 'I'm Gay' onstage. Due to the show's content, people already know that. At the end of the day, if we want people to start treating us different because we're Gay, we have to stop announcing it as if it's something that people need to be informed of."

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