#BehindtheCurtain: Get to Know Robert J. Townsend

 In Blog, San Diego Broadway Shows

You might have heard the joke that a lawyer is a shark, and if that’s true then Professor Callahan is the megalodon! This Harvard professor knows how to sniff out “Blood In The Water” a mile away, and isn’t afraid to capitalize on weakness wherever he finds it. The villain is an incredibly challenging, albeit necessary, role to portray in any show, but thankfully Robert J. Townsend is nothing like his on stage persona! A long time theatre veteran and no stranger to the SDMT Stage, Robert brings such maturity and charisma to this role thanks to his wealth of experience. With a resume covering everything from regional productions all the way to National Tours and Broadway, Robert came out of retirement to be a part of Legally Blonde and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him as part of this cast! This week, we had a chance to learn more about Robert in this behind the curtain blog, so keep reading below! And be sure to purchase your tickets to see him bring Callahan to life on the SDMT Stage from now until June 2nd!

How long have you been performing/what inspired you to get into musical theatre?

I’ve been performing, directing, and teaching for over 30 years. I call my performing career my ‘accidental career’, it was just something I loved to do, and it became a career!

Photo by Jason Sullivan

If you could tell the audience anything about this show, what would it be? And does it have any special meaning to you?

I just love the show in general, it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s full of heart, and the music is off the charts awesome. This is my first time back on stage in five years, and it’s super fun and exciting to share the stage with a cast of young, passionate, and incredible performers. I get to work alongside the next generation of upcoming talent, and they are fierce!

Photo by Jason Sullivan

If you had to pick, what is your favorite scene or number in the show?

There are so many terrific moments in the show, it’s really hard to narrow it down! Some days I’m cheering on our jump-roping athletes, some days I’m having a fan moment for Johnisa belting “So Much Better” in a higher and higher octave each time, or sometimes it’s our Delta Nus and Bethany crushing “Bend and Snap”. Too many moments to choose from!

Photo by Jason Sullivan

What is a dream role or dream show of yours? If you have a few, feel free to list them!

I feel pretty fortunate to have had a lot of wonderful opportunities to perform some of my favorite roles already, if I really had to pick one I haven’t done yet, I might say Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate. I do wish I had a chance to sing through Bridges of Madison County as well!

If you were to surprise everyone and get a degree just like Elle does when she goes to Law School, what would you be going back to school to study?

Honestly I’d love to go back and become a yoga instructor. I know that’s not a degree, but I’ve always admired the health and flexibility!

Photo by Jason Sullivan

Elle is accompanied almost everywhere by her four legged family member, Bruiser the Chihuahua! If you were to show up to Law School with a furry friend, who would you be taking with you? And whether you have a pet or not, feel free to be creative!

Oh, I’d definitely love to bring our big 100 pound beast Marley the dog to law school! He’s a big love, and he’d hilariously freak out for all the people!

Photo by Jason Sullivan

And finally, what has been the most difficult aspect of your character to portray?

The hardest part of Callahan is portraying the misogynistic, gross side of him. Playing villains and morally vacant characters can be fun, but when we are asked to show the darker side of humanity, it’s always a challenge. We need to be true to the moment and move the story where it needs to go, and I love when I hear a gasp or a boo from the audience, but I always worry they forget it’s a character, not me!



Legally Blonde Creative Team:
Director and Choreographer: Xavier J. Bush
Music Director: Lyndon Pugeda
Assistant to the Director and Choreographer: Melissa Glasgow


CLICK HERE to buy tickets!


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