NEW YORK (AP) — Hard at work on his new Broadway musical, David Hyde Pierce will sometimes ask a colleague what time rehearsal is tomorrow and hear a funny reply: "Well, actually, you get to decide that."
Pierce is directing, not acting, in the romantic comedy musical "It Shoulda Been You" and calling the shots. "I have to remind myself of that," he says, laughing.
The former "Frasier" star has a very personal reason to be involved in the show: The wedding-themed "It Shoulda Been You," which opens Tuesday, has a story and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, Pierce's husband.
The Associated Press asked Pierce about making the transition to directing, the potentially stressful job of working with a spouse and what he's getting rid of after the show opens.
AP: Have you fully morphed into a director?
Pierce: I'll still keep acting. I try to act as little as possible while I'm directing. But, no, I haven't given it up at all. I love them both. This is the newer form for me, and I find it incredibly fulfilling.
AP: Was it always a dream of yours to direct?
Pierce: People have suggested before that I should try directing. And now that I am a director, I know what they're talking about because I can see when an actor has a director's mind. Some actors are filled completely by what their character wants and needs. Others are constantly seeing the larger picture.
AP: You stepped in when Casey Nicholaw dropped out. Did they come to you or you to them?
Pierce: I sort of came to them. I said, 'You know, I think I might be able to direct this.' For me, especially as someone who has not devoted their life to directing, I'm not going to be directing everything. It's going to be about things that speak to me. And this show speaks to me.
AP: Has it been challenging to collaborate with a spouse? How do you tell a loved one you're cutting a song?
Pierce: Here's what we did: We spent 32 years getting ready. We've been able to support and criticize each other professionally for all that time. In addition, we've been able to negotiate the ups and downs of life and forge a personal bond together for all those years. So by the time we came at this directing thing, I don't think there was anything in it that was any of a surprise.
AP: So no angry taxi rides home in silence?
Pierce: No. We've had bracing taxi rides home, but they're bracing because they're two people who care about what we're doing and care about each other.
AP: What's the new musical about?
Pierce: It's about the nature of love, the pressure of family, the pressure of trying to be who you think you're supposed to be and how we all survive that through singing and dancing.
AP: What's your style of directing?
Pierce: I think you have to go in prepared. I think you have to have a plan. And then I think you have to just shut up. Sometimes actors stumble into it in their own way and you think, 'Oh, great. That's what I was hoping you would do.' And sometimes they do something completely different and you think, 'Oh, I wish I'd thought of that. That's great.'
AP: What's the biggest source of stress?
Pierce: I just want to throw out my phone. I just want to not look at the emails. But you don't get to do that. Sometimes it's 'This actor is sick and may not go on.' So you can't afford to skip your email. But once we open, I'm going to sell my phone.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits