Laughter on the 23rd Floor Cast Interview: Xander Layden
Where were you raised?
I’m from Yelm. Go Tornadoes.
What makes Laughter such a powerful piece of theater?
Laughter on the 23rd Floor is powerful to me because it’s about love and respect. Not just the love and respect of friends and colleagues but the respect of people’s privacy and of people’s intelligences. And because it celebrates madness and genius and passion and fellowship.
How did you get started in theater?
A fun 9th grade drama class inspired me to go out for a part in my high school’s production of The Foreigner. I wasn’t sure if I’d get in, but I figured it’d still be fun to work backstage if I didn’t get a part. I ended up playing the lead, Charlie, had a wonderfully fun time doing it, and I haven’t stopped acting since. I kinda peaked in high school though; it’s all downhill from here.
Where did you go to college? What did you do while you were there?
At SPSCC I spent some time working in the drama department, picked up some skills, made some pals, played some real schmucks, and learned how to maneuver in crowded parking lots.
Where else have you worked?
Outside of schools, I’ve worked with Olympia Family Theater, Theater Artists Olympia, Standing Room Only, Olympia Little Theatre, and Lakewood Playhouse.
I dig working at Harlequin because I can’t do anything less than my best in the company that I find myself in when I walk in the door. The atmosphere is relaxed and trusting, and the work is challenging and fun.
What advice would you have for an aspiring young actor?
Work with as many different companies as you can, and seek the joy in every action.
What is one of the craziest theater experiences you’ve ever had?
I’m not sure about the craziest, but the most terrifying moment I’ve ever had on stage was one night during the duel at the end of Hamlet. About halfway though, after parrying one of my strikes, Laertes’s sword fell apart in his hands and clattered to the ground in pieces. We could both see it happening in slow motion: the intact blade falling alongside the disintegrating hilt, our horror reflected in each others faces. Through what can only be attributed to telepathy, we worked out a short sequence of stabbing each other with his broken blade and moved on, mortified.
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about coming to see Laughter?
The show is funny, truthful, smart, and moving. Plus the cast is very attractive. That’s really everything a show needs, everything except for a swordfight.