Stephen R. Buntrock
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Interviews and Press
Fresh Face- Stephen R. Buntrock
Cara Joy David
published on Jan. 2003
Age: "34. What am I going to do? Lie?"

Currently: Starring as Curly in Oklahoma! opposite fellow new leads Amy Bodnar, Merwin Foard and Patty Duke. Buntrock previously appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Titanic and Jane Eyre. He also had the lead in what was supposed to be his big break, the ill-fated, pre-Broadway tour of Martin Guerre (during which he got to know current girlfriend, theater fave Erin Dilly). "I don't think a lot of people know who I am though," Buntrock says humbly. Curly is his chance to change that.

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois. "I was bitten by the [acting] bug when I was ten," Buntrock states. "[My family and I] went to see the first national tour of Annie and I was just taken by it. All that summer I was listening to the recording and wishing there could be a boy orphan." Buntrock's first role in high school? Curly in Oklahoma!.

Scared Stiff: "My first [professional] show was South Pacific at the Marriott Lincolnshire [in Illinois]. I remember I was so nervous the first day of rehearsal that my eyebrows were shaking and I couldn't make a facial feature to save my life. My whole face had just stopped working."

The Civil War: Buntrock describes himself as a "civil war buff." He has appeared in numerous Civil War reenactments, owns his own musket and uniform and even auditioned for Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War musical. "What they were looking for, I knew I was not able to do," he says of his attempt to land a role in the tuner. "My voice is just not trained or strong enough to do something like that. You can ask me to do straight tones, but I can't come up with a riff. Are you kidding me? I am so white that way!"

A Beautiful Mornin'?: When the National Theatre production of Oklahoma! was first supposed to hit Broadway during the 2000-2001 season, Buntrock was one of the finalists for the role of Curly. A season later it went to Patrick Wilson. "I had always been told that they had wanted me to be part of it no matter what," he relays. "It was frustrating to know I wasn't going to get the part, but in this business you have to take things when they come."

One Man Likes to Push a Plough: What came was the understudy job and a role in the ensemble that even disappointed his young daughter, Haley Paige. "First I thought I was going to be a cowboy, but the day came when I realized I was going to be a farmer," he explains. "Haley asked me that night: 'Well, daddy, who are you going to be in the show?" And I said: 'I am going to be Farmer Joe.' There was silence on the other line and all of a sudden she goes: 'A farmer? Oh, Daddy, you've got to get a better role.'"

A Famous Foe: Rising film star Hugh Jackman, who Buntrock kindly refers to as "the defining Curly," originated the role in the London mounting of this production. Rumors swirled that he would replace Wilson in the revival on Broadway and in fact he did think about it. "He showed up at the show and he was backstage going: 'I'd love to be a part of this again,'" Buntrock says. "I was thinking, 'No, no, don't! I want to do it!' Thank you, Hugh, for letting me have a crack at it!"

Taking Over: "When I went on for Patrick for a week, I was always checking in with [the rest of the cast] and making sure I was doing things that they were used to, so I wasn't going to throw them surprises. But I think now I have come into things that I like to do. I haven't gotten any notes saying 'Stop it,' so I guess they are working out okay."
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South Pacific
Lincolnshire, IL
A Little Night Music
2009- 2011
2007- 2009
Beauty and the Beast
2006- 2007
Phantom of the Opera
Tour/ Broadway
2004- 2006
2002- 2003
Miss Saigon
Lincolnshire, IL
Jane Eyre
2000- 2001
Martin Guerre
U.S. Tour
1999- 2000
Les Misérables
1997- 1999
Forum, Titanic, Babes in Arms etc.
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