Meet Tommy – Interview with Robert Markus

Meet your 2013 Tommy, Robert Markus! Robert sat down and chatted with us about becoming Tommy and about his role as Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof as he embarks on his debut season at the Festival! Enjoy learning a bit about our resident pinball wizard!

Robert Markus

Robert Markus

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Stratford Festival (SF): We’re so excited to welcome you to the Festival this season! You’ll be playing the title role in Tommy as well as appearing as Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof.  Has musical theatre always been a passion for you?

Robert Markus (RM): Actually, my introduction to theatre was by being involved in straight (non-musical) plays. I went to the University of Alberta for drama. We didn’t do much musical theatre. I think my love for theatre started with non-musical and then as my love of singing grew, I started to gravitate toward musical theatre.

SF: Tommy is undoubtedly a troubled character. How have you been preparing for the role?

RM: Research. I tried to do as much research as I could on The Who and Pete Townshend, trying to understand where they were coming from and what was surrounding them at the time they were writing it.

SF: There are so many iconic songs in both Tommy and Fiddler on the Roof – what’s your favourite song from each show?

RM: I love “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler and “Pinball Wizard” and “Listening to You” from Tommy.

SF: What excites you most about our upcoming production of Tommy and what do you think will distinguish it from past iterations of the show?

RM: Hearing this fantastic cast sing this amazing music is incredibly exciting. This production is suped up – brand new theatre technology for a bright and shiny new production of Tommy.

SF:  Have you been practicing your hand at pinball lately?

RM: I’ve been trying to! I went to an amazing Pinball museum last December.

SF: Both Tommy and Fiddler boast amazing casts and artistic leadership – is there anyone in particular that you’re excited to be working with? 

RM: Two actually. Donna Feore and Des McAnuff.

The first production I saw at Stratford was Oklahoma!, which Donna directed in 2007. I was awestruck. It is probably one of my favourite productions that I have seen. It was magic. The storytelling in that production was crystal clear. It ignited a passion of wanting to pursue classic musical theatre.

Working with Des is a huge dream for me. I’m still kind of awestruck by him. I mean the man envisioned the stage show of Tommy. He knows the show better than anyone, besides Pete Townshend himself. It’s pretty cool.

Just for fun…

SF: One thing we’d always find in your refrigerator is…

RM: Ketchup.

SF: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

RM: Trying to pursue some kind of singing career.

SF: The most-played song on your iPod is…

“Down” by Summer Camp

Follow Robert on Twitter -> @robert_markus

Read Robert’s full stage bio here!

Don’t forget that you can see Robert and cast members from Tommy perform live at our Pinballapalooza in Toronto this week on May, 16 at First Canadian Place at 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. at the Waterfall Stage! The fun doesn’t end at the performances; we’ll be around all day with 100 pinball machines set up for free play, amazing prizes, an exclusive ticket deal along with a Guinness World Record attempt at 12:40 – best of all, the whole event is free! So come out to enjoy some great music and fun at our first ever Pinballapalooza!

For more information about Pinballapalooza, visit our website at!