Corey Cott
Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua

He’s the new king of New York!

Broadway newcomer Corey Cott, a recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, has taken over the role of Jack Kelly in Newsies, after leading man Jeremy Jordan’s final performance on Sept. 4. (Jordan is headed to Smash.) Although Cott has already stood in for Jordan 12 times, today marks his first official day as the new lead of Disney’s smash musical.

We caught up with the budding star to hear about his time with the Newsies, and to find out what’s on his entertainment Must List:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first get involved with the Broadway version of Newsies?

COREY COTT: I originally auditioned for it when they were still casting Jack when Jeremy was doing Bonnie and Clyde. It was one of my first auditions in the City. It was in December. It felt fine, but it wasn’t the right time yet. The next time around was the end of June. It’s amazing how six months can change your approach. It was a whole fresh experience, and I felt much more comfortable with what I was doing. I’d seen the show twice at that point, so I knew the story better, I knew the character better, I knew what I was trying to accomplish in the room.

What other roles have you played that prepared you to be Jack Kelly?

Honestly, I’ve never really had a role that’s this monumental to a story. Even in college. I did six shows, and I’ve never been kind of the title character before. You know, it’s not called Jack Kelly: The Musical, but for all intents and purposes, it could be if it was shifted around a little bit. But funnily enough, I did Sweeney Todd this year at school, and I played Tobias, who’s an abused child laborer on the streets in the late 19th century, so – even though its in England, and it’s very different from the streets of New York – there are a lot of similarities.

Has Jeremy given you any advice?

Our schedules are so conflicted. When I’m on, he’s shooting, and when he’s on, I’m either backstage watching, or I’m not at the theater, so it’s been a little tough to cross paths, but a few times we have. My fourth time going on, I was like, “How do I pace myself?” and he said, “You’ll figure it out. There are times in the group numbers when you can take a step back to have a moment to breathe,” and that was kind of helpful to hear him say that – that you don’t have to be gung-ho 200% for all two and a half hours of the show.

Did you have a sense of how passionate the “Fansie” community is for Newsies?

I didn’t have a perspective on it until I kind of woke up one morning and I had — before I started Newsies, I didn’t really do much Twitter — and I had like 1500 followers. I was like, “What is going on? I actually have people who care about something that I say on the internet,” and that kind of blew my mind a little bit. I feel grateful to be part of a community that care so much about the show. Sometimes they care about it more than we do, and we care about it a lot.

To be at the theater and get these notes every day, these notes where people are saying, “This show has changed how I look at life,” and stuff like that — I remember being in middle school and high school and listening to Broadway soundtracks, and feeling that — feeling how amazing it must be to be a part of a Broadway cast. When Fansies see a Broadway show for the first time, that is such a moving thing to me.

What was your first Broadway show?

Wicked. It was one of the best things I have ever experienced. It was my first Broadway show, you know?

So what’s on your Must List these days?

I love Breaking Bad. I think every actor should watch it. I would encourage ever actor, every writer to watch it. I think the characters on that show are some of the most brilliant, disgusting, emotionally available actors and characters anywhere. For me, it’s just a masterclass.

What about theater-wise?

It just closed, but I mean, One Man, Two Guvnors. Honestly, I didn’t laugh out loud as much as I thought I was going to because I was just so astounded by what was happening on stage. I was so impressed with how spontaneous everything was, and how alive all the characters were. You don’t see actors having that much fun on stage a lot, and I was just so excited to see something coming straight from the National Theatre. It was an amazing night at the theater — at it’s best.

What was your first show you ever did?

Les Mis. It was when I was 13. I was in eighth grade. Ben Fankhauser [who plays Davey in Newsies] was also in the cast with me because we grew up in Cleveland together. I was the youngest kid in the cast besides Gavroche and Cosette. It was a teen community theater group, and kids would come from all over Cleveland. It was a great way to be welcomed into the theater world.

What’s your opinion on Anne Hatahaway singing “I Dreamed A Dream” in the new Les Miserables trailer? She’s been somewhat divisive.

I’m so judgmental about all these movie-musicals. They have started to have a comeback with Into The Woods coming back and Hairspray. With Glee, it’s really become a mainstream thing. And Jersey Boys is coming soon. Every time you hear about it, you’re just like, “Oh man, when are they going to cast Justin Beiber as the baker…” but from that trailer, I was moved and interested and intrigued. I was leery about it, but I thought she sounded awesome, I thought she sounded really raw, and I’m so happy that they filmed it with them actually singing. I feel like the trailer is simple, and it made me want to see it.

Have you caught Newsies on Broadway yet? Did you catch my debut? If you’ve already seen it, will you make a second trip to see Cott in the leading role?

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