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Meet the Man Behind Max: South Orange's Star David Josefsberg

Josefsberg has scored stellar reviews in his Paper Mill performance, Lend Me A Tenor

 David Josefsberg lights up the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in a door-slamming farce that has been a staple of professional and community theaters since its debut in 1986 on London’s West End.

Patch's reviewer wrote, "David Josefsberg sets the pace as Max, the assistant to the manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera House (circa 1934). Max dreams of being an opera star himself, but he’s the reserved and nervous type, which keeps him behind the scenes despite a booming tenor voice of his own."

So who is this booming tenor and nearby neighbor? David Josefsberg answered a few questions for us.  This is Part I of our interview; check back later this week for Part II.

Can you describe your role of Max in Lend Me a Tenor and tell us how he is like you?

What can I say about Max?  He is possibly my favorite character that I have ever played.  I love how he grows from the subservient assistant, to the huge, Latin lover, Opera Star, and then back to Max with his newfound confidence.  He is like me in that I am a Latin Lover………no wait……he is somewhat like me in that we both are these little semi-nerdy guys who know/believe that we are a lot more.  Max gets to experience this on a grand scale and I guess I have as well. 

What is the greatest challenge of this role?

Max is onstage and going 100 miles per hour for the entire show.  I have done big roles before (Altar Boyz, Les Miserables, Rated P, It Shoulda Been You) but nothing like this.  I would say learning the words was difficult, but the way that Ken Ludwig has written this show, the words just make so much sense.  Each stutter is just, just, just written so perfectly.  It really fits well in my mouth.  So I will say that not being able to use the bathroom, trying not to sweat, and not returning to my birthweight are the biggest challenges.

Your duet with John Treacy Egan is amazing and one of the highlights of the show. Can you comment on that?

Thank you so much.  Singing the opera has been so much fun.  I really haven't performed opera since I was 16….ahem, 6 years ago. (yeah right).  JT is so much fun to work with.  Actually, everyone in the cast is so much fun to work with. He has such  an amazing voice and I just love performing with him. His faces continue to make me laugh onstage, and offstage I can laugh just hearing him deliver a line.   Judy Blazer has really helped us with the pronunciation and Tom Helm was amazing teaching us the opera.  Not sure i will ever be asked to sing at the Met, but I am loving every minute here at the Paper Mill.  Also, singing the finale is probably my favorite moment of the show.  With all the funny it is a moment where i have trouble keeping myself from shedding tears.  Jill Paice is so believable and heartfelt in that moment……she makes it very easy for me.

What is it like working with the cast and the director, Don Stephenson, you have for this production?

Don is a terrible hack!  I mean, he has been absolutely wonderful.  Let me just say that I am not usually this gushy over a show, or the people in the show, I am just telling the truth.  Not only is he the funniest man alive, but because he was/is an actor he really directs the way an actor likes to be directed. Some directors just say "do it like this" which I would have accepted from him because he is brilliant.  Don, though, can find six  ways to say it differently so that you can make your own choices.  One more thing…..He also will let you try anything you wanted to try……can you tell i like him?  Now, the cast.  From top to bottom I have only good things to say about this cast….onstage and backstage this has been an amazing experience.  True I don't have to take the van with them because I live so close but……they are all fantastic. Everyone is so truly talented and engaged in this show it is a pleasure and seriously so easy. 

I love coming to work.  The show moves so fast that sometimes you feel like you didn't see each other very much…. but even if it's just meeting eyes with Judy Blazer or Mark Price grabbing my leg as the Bellhop, or Donna English and I nodding our heads together, or Nancy Johnston and I leaving the dumbshow together(it's really one of our only moments)! Or, Broadways Michael Kostroff and I doing EVERYTHING together, Or John Tracey and I getting to live out our 2 Tenors fantasies together, Or Jill Paice's honesty in our quiet mo-MENTS …..I do feel the connection with each and every one of em.  That's what I was saying right?  I forgot already….Sorry for rambling.

What's it like to perform so close to home? Do you see folks in the audience who know you in other capacities?

AWESOME…..AWESOME,AWESOME, AWESOME!!!!!!!  I live nine minutes from the theater and it could not be better.  So many of my neighbors, my kids teachers, all of my friends have gotten to, or are going to come.  Not only is it the best regional theater there is, but it could not be more convenient.  Millburn is an amazing town also….great restaurants, good shopping, gyms, movie theaters….everything one could want! 

On one Saturday I went to a soccer tournament for my son, did the first show, and then went back for more soccer before the second show…..it is a dream!  Most people want the Broadway, I want the Paper Mill!…..and the Broadway.

Why should South Orange residents go to see this show?

Lend Me a Tenor is a SUPER-FUNNY show, with amazingly talented Broadway performers.  It has music, it has door slamming, it has romance, it has………everything.  People young and old will love it.  My 86-year-old uncle and my four and eight-year-old boys (Benji and Cooper) both loved it.  My sons saw a matinee and asked if they could see it again that evening.  It moves so fast they had no time to be bored!


Lend Me a Tenor” continues through March 10 at Paper Mill Playhouse, Brookside Drive, Millburn. Tickets are $26 to $97. For information, call 973-376-4343 or visitwww.papermill.org.


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