Steven Grant Douglas plays Sam Wheat in GHOST the Musial. Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Steven who has grown since his first performance in Alladin.
Examiner: Tell me about yourself and your background.
Steven: My name is Steven Grant Douglas and I am originally from the great state of Minnesota. I grew up singing Disney songs with my Mom and song-leading in my local church. I have always been a singer, but it wasn't until I went to college that I started to think of myself more as an actor. I'm currently touring the country but afterwards will move to New York City to continue to pursue this profession.
Examiner: Tell me about your character.
Steven: Sam Wheat is a very successful banker with his best friend, Carl, who has a very loving girlfriend, Molly, and everything that comes along with that. I like to think of Sam as a playful kid at heart who is incredibly perseverant with a heart of gold. After his death, I admire Sam's relentlessness as he continues to conquer each obstacle that presents itself in this entirely new world/dimension.
Examiner: Is your character like you in any way?
Steven: Yes, I would say both my character and I are hard-working, fun-loving, and determined conquistadors. It sounds like a big word, but I simply mean we have good work ethic and discipline. I also think we have similar senses of humor. The things Sam finds funny throughout the show are easy for me to relay because at first, I thought they were hysterical too.
Examiner: When was the first time you discovered the arts? You know, that ah ha moment.
Steven: Right around the age of 16, I joined a larger summer theater program near my very small hometown. I was an ensemble member in Pirates of Penzance, and I was very eager to join this community of performers. I remember our director would say things like, "Can any of you men scream like a girl?" "I can!" I'd say. Or "Who here can swing out on a rope for the opening number?" Again I shouted "Me! I'll do it!" It was there that I first realized there were people just like me who loved theatre and performing as much as I did. It was very eye opening, and the following two summers that eagerness paid off because I had the opportunity to play Harold Hill in The Music Man and Marius in Les Miserables. Those experiences helped steer me towards the path I am currently on. It's very exciting to me to think that that was such a pivotal point in my life.
Examiner: Tell me about your first performance ever.
Steven: This is the first time I've been asked this question... Hmm, I guess it would have to be a little production of Alladin (no that's not a typo, it's how they get around the trademarked version) that I was a part of in the 6th grade. It was one of those traveling shows where two adults cast a bunch of kids and put on a show in a week or so. I played Alladin, and it was both exhilarating and frightening because I had never "performed" before. But I had an absolute blast and continued to be in my school's musicals each year after that.
Examiner: When did you discover your passion for theater?
Steven: I would say around the age of 14. I started listening to songs from shows that were very popular, like RENT or Wicked. The songs would get stuck in my head and I would sing them all day long. Even in the locker room after football practice. My friends, family, and teammates put up with a lot of random singing moments as my passion grew. And I'm happy to say that they would (and still) support what I do. I also performed in the shows Children of Eden and Into The Woods around that age, which helped me discover a voice of my own. Both literally and metaphorically.
Examiner: Have you done any other productions?
Steven: I have not done any major scale productions like our show now. Ghost is larger than life on so many levels, so it is an absolute privilege to be a part of this massive operation. We have over 30 people backstage making the magic happen. That's a luxury I have never had. But most recently, I performed as Princeton in Avenue Q near my homeland. That was a real blast.
Examiner: Tell me about a typical day in the life of Steven on the road.
Steven: Well it depends on the day, but when we're not traveling on the bus (which is what I'm doing now), or performing two shows in one day (on Saturdays and Sundays), I will wake up at the hotel, get to the gym, and explore the city I'm currently in. Exploring could be anything from grabbing a bite to eat, running with a couple of cast mates, or simply going for a walk and finding a park to hang out in. One of my favorite things about this Ghost cast is that they love to eat. It's so near to eat all kinds of different foods and local specialties across the country.
Examiner: There are so many young people who aspire to be where you are. Do you have any words for young people who aspire to become a part of the theatre?
Steven: Absolutely. Because I come from such a small town in Minnesota (population 650 or so), I think it's important to remember that no matter where you start out, you can find your path to whatever you're passionate about. Surround yourself with positive energy and people. You'll find it's contagious and who doesn't want to be around that? Specifically for theater lovers, I'd say know your craft. As in, have specific performers you look up to, know your favorite types of shows, and stay up to date with what is happening in the theater industry. With a little bit of luck, you might actually be a part of that idea you've always dreamed of. And know that rejection is simply a large part of this business. I heard 49 "No"s (this year alone) before I heard "Yes" for Ghost. Stay focused. And shoot for the stars. To take a page out of the Ghost book: believe.
Thank you Steven for taking time out of your busy schedule. We welcome you and your castmates to Atlanta. You can see Steven Grant Douglas’ character, Sam Wheat and the rest of the cast in GHOST the Musical at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, from Tuesday, November 5 through 10. Tickets to GHOST are available at The Fabulous Fox.