There's an inate interiority to this actor's style, even though he typically plays the alpha male. Soft spoken and affable, he has the unique ability to grab the audience by the jugular unawares. Immensely empathetic and riveting, his 5-Star performances are some of the most compelling anywhere...Come say hello to Max DeLoach—This Month’s Artist Spotlight!
SEPT 7, 2022 — BY CHRIS DANIELS
I first saw Max onstage seven years ago in Carlsbad. He was doing the Patrick Swayze thing in the musical, “Ghost.” He was, in a word…astounding. A pristine singer with a contra tenor range, he had real presence. And charisma. And class. In fact, I don’t think I noticed the others on the stage at all, totally fixated on this new find of mine. I remember watching him there in the part, thinking to myself…”this guy is going places!”
That was high school. During his junior year, he played J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and was awarded entry into the first national San Diego musical theatre awards competition hosted by Ben Vereen. While attending UCI’s BFA program, he made a name for himself with his peers with shows like “Rock of Ages,” “Chess,” “American Idiot” and “Pajama Game…”
“Mr. DeLoach is one of the most distinctive performers in the area with an exceptional gift for inhabiting any character he approaches. He smolders through the lovely "Hey There," bursting into full roar when he and Ms. Brown share the show-stopping "There Once Was a Man." And the two of them look so rousingly comfortable sharing one set of pajamas in the finale that I thought management might be providing backstage security. Overall, these two pros sent us to musical comedy heaven.” —THE SHOW REPORT, The Pajama Game
“I went to school to acquire my BFA in Musical Theatre, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and came out a much more capable and confident artist, but I simply wasn’t the die-hard “Broadway or Bust” type that many of my friends and classmates were. I loved it, but I also love so many other aspects of the arts. I want to do musicals, but I also want to do straight-plays, films, television, play in a band, write, etc.! Of all the places that I could have gone to pursue these things, Los Angeles seemed like the best place for me to be able to effectively chase all of these dreams at once.” —SHOUTOUT LA
In 2020, just before the pandemic started, he was the speech-impeded Patrick in “The Andrews Brothers” on the Beverly O’Neil Stage at International City Theater in a gender-bender performance that brought new bounds to his skill set.
“Director Torcellini sends his trio truckin’ and jivin’ through novelty song and swing tunes alike, their extended drag act carried out with light-hearted good taste and high comedy. Picture Bing and Danny Kaye singing “Sisters” in drag in “White Christmas,” or Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot” — capitalizing on heel wobbling fun with of course the required, innocent bosom humor.” —THE SHOW REPORT, The Andrews Brothers
Max DeLoach (CTR) in The Andrews Brothers
With a steadily increasing body of theatrical work across the Southern California regional theatre circuit, you may have seen Max at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre (“Sunset Blvd.,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “West Side Story”), or perhaps 5-Star Theatricals (“Mamma Mia,” Oct. 2021). Not one to limit his mediums, Max is also on the rise as a TV & film actor, with credits in short films and TV series, like the horror film “Game Night” and the apocalyptic “Anza Borrego,” as well having had an appearance on the popular TV miniseries “Pam & Tommy” as Jay-Kay (Jamiroquai).
Max was kind enough to answer a few questions for The Show Report this past spring (which is only being published now due to an extended client commitment) while he was playing the silken-voiced Emmett in Cupcake Theater’s “Legally Blonde” at the Hollywood Majestic in LA. Most of his answers are geared around the current events then.
Interestingly enough, he is now back at Cupcake Theater with yet another major show, where he can be seen through September 18th as Prince Eric in the Disney classic tale, “The Little Mermaid.” Yes, Max DeLoach is definitely the one to watch. Check out his interview below.
Max, thank you for taking time to be with us today and answer a few questions about some of the exciting things happening in your career, including the present smash hit you’re in at the Hollywood Majestic, with Cupcake Theater’s “Legally Blonde!” which I believe has been extended now, running through June 5th. What a great spring musical! And consistent sell-out crowds. Give us a little backstage banter on how the show’s been going, what role you’re playing and who’s in the cast with you.
“Yes, indeed! We’re playing every weekend (Friday night, two on Saturday, and a Sunday matinee) all the way through June 5th. I play the role of Emmett Forrest, the scruffy, corduroy-clad lawyer who helps Elle discover her true potential. I’m opposite Margie Mays, a former American Idol contestant with a killer voice, who’s new to the theater scene and doing an excellent job with her role. Also in the cast we have Renee Cohen as Paulette, Thomas Hollow as Warner Huntington III, Renee Wylder as Vivian Kensington, and Chris Smith as Professor Callahan, along with a superbly talented 15 person ensemble who, in my opinion, are doing most of the “heavy-lifting” in this show.”
How old were you when you first discovered theater, and realized you wanted to be an actor, and what was that journey like?
“I first discovered theater during my freshman year of high school, when I joined a theater class on a whim and was cast in my school’s production of The Phantom of the Opera. That was an amazing first show, and it really instilled my love of the art form, but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I realized I might actually be good at this! I’d been cast in the lead role of ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,’ and from my performance therein I was selected to compete in the first annual Ben Vereen awards, where I got to work with the legend himself, as well as a lot of other talented young performers from across the state. From there I began auditioning for college programs, working in professional shows during my summers, and eventually obtained a BFA in Music Theater from UCI. Now here I am in LA, with the good fortune to be able to call myself a working actor.”
What was your first professional theatrical job?
“My first professional theater job came during the summer post-freshman year of college, and took me all the way out to Helena, Montana to play the role of the Earthworm in Grandstreet Theater’s ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ It was a ton of fun, and an excellent learning experience, with the added benefit of being far enough away from the industry hub of SoCal to allow me to make all the mistakes a newly minted actor is bound to make. I also made some great friends whom I still talk to today, despite the distance between us.”
I’ve seen you in many shows over the years. You were fantastic in productions like “Ghost,” “Rock of Ages,” “American Idiot,” "Sweeney Todd" and many more. I know you're a vocal athlete, musical theatre trained, and with a range as high as C5, thrilling your audiences in that upper stratosphere, especially with some of those pop rock ballads you've sailed through. Tell us Max, are you more at your best playing a fuller, but more challenging, triple-threat part with stand-out vocals, or do you feel more comfortable with a strong leading role in a play?
“We certainly have some history. Not only have you seen me in all those shows (and more), I think you may be the first person to review my work, all the way back in high school! I love the diverse challenges that theater allows me to take on; classical or contemporary vocals, dramatic or comedic acting, even the occasional pure dancer track in a show like West Side Story. As far as where I feel the MOST comfortable, though, I would have to say is in a strong leading role in a “golden age” musical theater show, where I can really let my classical vocal training shine and show both sides of my acting ability.”
What do you consider to be your proudest accomplishment over your career so far and where do you picture yourself to be, say, five years from now?
“My proudest accomplishment of my career so far is not any one moment, but any and every time I get to hear from someone who says they were inspired by my work, or that their life was changed for the better in some way by a piece of theater I got to take part in. I’m not a Broadway actor yet, so I don’t have fans constantly beating down my door, but on the occasion that someone does come up to say “Hey, that was a beautiful performance and I was really moved,” or “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue my career in theater, but you guys reminded me why I love it,” those are the moments that make it all worthwhile. As far as where I see myself five years from now? That’s quite a bit of time, so don’t be surprised if you see me headlining a new Broadway musical or Hollywood feature film.”
In the last few years, you have been rapidly breaking into the film industry too, having played a few starring roles in some independent films. One of my favorites was an apocalyptic short subject called Anza-Borrego from First Generation Films. Tell us more about that and how that project developed.
“Anza Borrego was an exceptionally difficult and rewarding film to create. This particular project was written and directed by my best friend David Sasik, and executed on a shoestring budget by myself, David, his girlfriend (and my dear friend) Kristen, and David’s father. The lack of resources meant that we were doing all of the work ourselves, which in this case entailed a 16 mile hike through the Anza Borrego desert with approximately 40 lbs of equipment on our backs to film in blistering hot temperatures one day, and almost freezing temperatures the next. At one point I even ended up with a cactus in my heel. Somehow the conditions didn’t sour any of our attitudes, though, and the work we put in made it all the more satisfying when we were accepted into some film festivals after it was complete!”
Give us some essential “must-haves” that are required to attract you to a role before you would consider it, and would you ever take a role as a villain?
“To be honest, I haven’t got any “must-have” requirements to accept a role. I’ve taken roles of all sizes and all varieties. I’m a firm believer in “no small roles, only small actors” and try to squeeze everything I can out of every role I play, and not only would I accept a role as a villain, I have played villains already. Hugh Dorsey in the musical ‘Parade’ comes to mind. He was a nasty southern lawyer during the antebellum period in Georgia who led the lynching of Leo Frank. Dorsey had his reasons, sure, but he’s very much the main antagonist of the story, and easily one of the most interesting roles I’ve played.”
What advice do you have for the budding actors and artists out there who want to break into acting?
“My advice for newer actors is simple, and has definitely been said before: Say yes, whenever you can help it. Know your worth, and never let yourself be exploited, but if something seems interesting, offers connections, gives you an opportunity to grow, or just looks fun, say yes whenever you can! You never know what it will lead to.”
Have you ever taken a role that was so challenging or had such an important message it kept you up at night and consumed all your attention?
“I’ve taken on many roles in musicals that have been so vocally demanding that they’ve kept me up at night agonizing over how best to apply my technique to the material, and dancing the original choreography in West Side kept me up with lots of aches and pains! As far as a role or story so important in the way it was told that it consumed my thoughts, I would again circle back to Dorsey in ‘Parade.’ That’s a show where racial tensions and anti-Semitism take center stage, and the ending is extremely grim. A show that dark can take a toll on your mind, and more importantly, performing it in such a way that is sensitive not only to the audience, but also to your fellow cast-members is a delicate balance, especially when your character is the one doing most of the offensive action.”
Any upcoming projects that you can you tell us about?
"Well, I don’t have my next big show lined up yet, as I’ll be performing in 'Legally Blonde' for another month at least (possibly more), but you can catch me at the Bourbon Room on May 16th presenting songs from a brand new musical called ‘Bitter Street’ that I had the pleasure to originate in 2021, and if you’re in Orange County on June 28th, you can hear me sing some Disney songs at OC Cabaret’s first themed show!"
And finally, Max, what’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
“I’m really an open book, in terms of my talents and abilities (I find that helps me get hired more than keeping them to myself), so instead of something people don’t know about, I’ll tell you about a skill I’ve been picking up more recently! Late last year I added boxing and a bit of Krav Maga to my exercise training regimen. I’ve got a wonderful coach (shoutout to Chris Smith Training) who I actually met doing ‘Mamma Mia’ in Thousand Oaks, who’s been teaching me some hand-to-hand combat technique. Not only has it increased my strength and endurance, but knowing a bit about how to defend myself has also increased my confidence. And for bonus points, it’s also been quite humbling to see how much more I still have to learn!”
Thank you Max DeLoach! To contact Max for upcoming projects, you may connect with him on his website at:
IMDB: Max DeLoach - IMDb Instagram: @maximilian_gray
Headshot credit: Paul Gregory
Image Credits: Stephanie Girard Garcia, Paul Kennedy, Ken Jacques