Jericho takes to the stage
WWE fans haven't heard from former WWE Superstar Chris Jericho lately. So, they might be surprised to learn that he's gone from a multiple-time champion to a middle-aged varnish salesman who just wants to stay home and watch TV.
That's the acting role Jericho will play this summer in the theatrical production, "Opening Night," penned by famed Canadian playwright Norm Foster. The play centers around Jack Tisdale (Chris Jericho) and wife Ruth celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with an ill-fated evening of theatre.
It's an exciting new challenge for Y2J, who will test out the acting skills he recently honed in Hollywood. But Jericho is no stranger to performances before large, raucous crowds, and he sees his time in WWE as a crucial asset to his blossoming TV, film and stage career.
WWE.com caught up with Jericho in Los Angeles via cell phone to get find out what he's been up to lately and get his thoughts on the play, which opens July 20, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts Studio Theatre:
WWE.com: Tell us about this upcoming theatrical production.
Jericho: Well, a few months ago a company in Toronto reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be involved with their theatre company. It's a company called Bird Entertainment, and they've done plays for the last five years in Ontario. They wanted to make this the biggest show they've ever had. They found out about my background in acting and all the work I've been doing, and so they asked if I'd like to star in their play. I thought it was a great idea and a great way for me to try something new and really forward my career — and give myself some acting chops performing live. Doing a play in a leading role is a huge responsibility and it's a huge amount of work. It'll be a real test for me as an actor, and I'm really excited about it.
WWE.com: Tell us about your character in the play. Will your time in WWE translate to this experience?
Jericho: Well, first of all, just performing on stage in a play is very similar to what we do in WWE. When you act to make a TV show or a movie, you're acting in front of the crew and the cameras and that's it. When you perform for WWE, you're doing it live and in front of thousands of people. And that's very much like stage acting because you're getting the instant gratification from the crowd — they're reacting and laughing and yelling and screaming. Whereas when you perform in front of a TV or movie camera, you don't get that gratification until it's released and you go see it in a movie theater or on the television screen. So, as far as performing on stage, it's very similar to performing in the ring.
But my character in the play, "Opening Night," is a guy called Jack Tisdale. And he's a varnish salesman in his mid-40s. So, this is a little bit different. This isn't exactly Chris Jericho on the stage playing Chris Jericho. I'm playing a mild-mannered varnish salesman who goes to a play for their anniversary but would much rather be at the ballgame. It's about all the wacky things that happen while they're at this play. He doesn't want to be there, but he goes anyway. It's a comedy. So, I guess I've gone from being the first Undisputed Champion to a middle-age varnish salesman.
WWE.com: Can you give the fans an update on what you've been doing lately?
Jericho: It's a very exciting time for me right now. I've been acting. That's one of the big things — working on this play and getting it going. There are a couple other things I have in the works, but I can't talk about it in detail yet. Mostly I've been studying acting out here in Los Angeles. I've been studying with a couple of different coaches and working in a couple different classes, which has really helped out. We finished up our last Fozzy tour for "All That Remains" at the beginning of February, so we're taking some time off for that.
Bird Entertainment is a non-profit community theatre organization located in Brampton, Ontario. Tickets for "Opening Night" will go on sale Monday, March 27, and are available by contacting Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or 416-870-8000 or through the theatre box office. Multi-faceted performer Chris Jericho is a regular on VH1 and the E! Network, among many others. Jericho also hosts his own XM Satellite Radio show called, "The Rock of Jericho," airing Sunday nights. His band Fozzy released its third CD, "All That Remains," in 2005.