Double Time: Q&A with Norbert Leo Butz

Norbert Leo Butz - Bloodline on Netflix - Gulfshore Playhouse annual Bubbles, Baubles & Broadway GalaActor-singer Norbert Leo Butz sounds cool and relaxed, even though he has just minutes to spare while hustling to catch a flight to L.A. to promote his Netflix drama, Bloodline, debuting this month. Butz, who has two Tony Awards to his credit for lead roles in the musicals Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me if You Can, is on what he calls “a mini-FLA concert tour.” He’ll bring his musical talent to Naples for the fifth annual Bubbles, Baubles and Broadway Gala to benefit Gulfshore Playhouse March 9 at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. In this interview, the talented performer shares news about his upcoming projects and visits to the Sunshine State.

NI: What led to your performance for Gulfshore Playhouse?
Butz: I’ve been dabbling around Florida a lot in the last year or so. I’ve been living in the Keys, working on the first season of Bloodline, which shoots in Islamorada. My music director, Mike Moritz, and I, were asked to do a concert in Orlando about a year and a half ago, and it went well. They asked us back, and then we had a call from another theater in Fort Lauderdale. Then somebody in Naples got word. I really love going into these smaller, more intimate venues. I’m getting asked to do more and more of those.


Why did you decide to pursue the stage over songwriting?
The stage work just started coming in. I moved to New York in 1996, and fate just put me in this huge hit Broadway show, Rent. That got me an agent and noticed in New York, and that led to other offers in musical theater. I was starting my family, and acting was where the work was coming from. I have three daughters, so gigging out in clubs, lugging equipment around, and staying up late at night writing rock and roll songs—that all kind of goes by the wayside very quickly.


What are you working on now?
I’ve just completed preproduction on a solo record that I’m writing myself. I’m recording about 13 original songs. The sounds will be rooted in American traditions. I’m from St. Louis, a famous blues town, so I’ve just always loved blues and soul. My dad has a large farm a couple of hours from St. Louis so a lot of country influences started coming through. When I was shooting in the Keys, I had a lot of nights alone and I started writing again and remembered what it was like to be a songwriter.


Having acted in TV, film and stage roles, what is your preference?
I’m a pretty impatient person. When I’m on a TV shoot for a long time, I can’t wait to get on stage, and when I’m in a long run of a play, I think, what I wouldn’t give to be on a film set. No matter the medium, if the writing and the story are good, and your collaborators are excellent, that’s the job you want. It’s really about the material.

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