Macon actor to make TV debut in ABC’s ‘Suburgatory’

lfabian@macon.comFebruary 12, 2013 

Grey Henson knew playing a lead role in the first tour of “The Book of Mormon” would put him in the national theater spotlight.

August’s opening night in Denver sold out in just five hours.

So many fans of “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone flocked to see their Broadway smash that another stop is scheduled this December in their home state of Colorado.

It was the three-month stop in Los Angeles, that drew in Hollywood executives and opened the door to Henson’s first television role.

The 22-year-old, who grew up on Macon stages, will appear in Wednesday’s episode of “Suburgatory” on ABC at 9:30 p.m.

“The creator and producer of “Suburgatory” saw me in (“The Book of Mormon”) and gave me this little spot on the show,” said Henson, who never auditioned for the role.

He spent a Monday off from playing Elder McKinley to portray Alec, a snooty head maitre d’.

“He’s fussy and flamboyant, and in the end he butts heads, and I think people enjoy that,” Henson said.

Alec interacts with “George Altman,” actor Jeremy Sisto’s lead character in the show.

“Suburgatory” revolves around George, a single dad who moves from the city to raise his teen daughter in the suburbs.

When his Valentine’s date cancels due to a bad reaction to a cosmetic procedure, George has to endure an 18-course meal from renowned “Chef Julio,” played by guest starring “Top Chef” season six winner Michael Voltaggio.

“The whole show is larger than life, so that was a really great transition because the role is very theatrical,” said Henson, who was cast in “Book of Mormon” even before he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting and musical theater.

The son of Macon’s Paige and Johnny Henson will be on stage in Minneapolis when the episode airs.

“It’s just a small guest spot. I’ve got some lines,” said Henson, who worked extra hard to be prepared. “I knew my lines backwards and forwards ... because I knew there would be a lot of television lingo I didn’t know.”

He filmed all day for three scenes with Sisto, the show’s star who is known for playing Billy Chenowith in “Six Feet Under” and whose movie credits include “Grand Canyon” and “Clueless.”

“He was really great at helping me find my way and say things like, ‘That was a really good take.’ ”

The director, writer and crew were very understanding, he said.

Unlike the touring show, Henson had little time to perfect this television role.

“It’s a completely different ball game when you get in front of the camera,” he said. “I never saw myself on TV before, so I might hate it, but it should be fun.”

While Sisto has been playing his character for years, Henson had to discover Alec in a very short time.

“I wanted to get in and get out and do it, and make it look like I knew what I was doing,” he said. “You’ve got to get it right or it’s forever documented.”

His contract with “Book of Mormon” is open-ended so he doesn’t know whether he’ll still be with show when it comes to Atlanta sometime next year.

“I’ll see what the world has in store for me next,” he said. “Maybe I’ll move to L.A. or New York.”

He’s already played Denver; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis.

“It can seem like a vacation, but it’s definitely a job,” he said. “The show takes it out of me every night. It’s a pretty exhausting show, in the best way, because it’s so physical and we’re so active.”

The audiences have been superb, he said, which makes him want to give it his all.

“I’m so happy with this job and with this show,” he said. “I really couldn’t ask for a better job right now in theater. I’m still living a dream life.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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