Photo by Jordan Matter
Like many, Jeffrey Binder fell in love with Naples during his first visit. While starring in The God Game at Gulfshore Playhouse, Binder and his partner, Michael Anderson, liked the town so much, they bought a home in Naples Park. The accomplished actor has appeared in The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Side Man on Broadway and on TV in Damages and Law and Order, among many other roles. Binder joins the Playhouse this month as artistic associate. He will assist Kristen Coury, producing artistic director, to conceive, develop, and maintain the theater’s creative and artistic standards. Theatergoers will be treated to Binder’s acting talent in a number of productions, starting with Boeing-Boeing, on stage November 7-29.
NI: Tell us about your Naples experience.
BINDER: My partner and I really loved Naples. There were a lot of intelligent people who are very theater-savvy who came to see The God Game; you could tell from the talk-backs and discussions. Naples is comfortable but it’s not sleepy. The community is growing and the demand for a vibrant arts community grows as well.
What will you bring to the Playhouse?
I graduated with a master of fine arts from NYU in the late ’90s, so I have been a professional actor for 20 years, and I have done everything from Broadway musicals to The Lieutenant of Inishmore, an Irish black comedy. One thing I love about Kristen Coury is that she trusts the audience of Gulfshore Playhouse to have an artistic maturity, so she can bring things to challenge their ideas and sensibilities. I hope to bring that kind of sensibility as an artist.
Do you prefer hero or villain?
In broad strokes, the villain is almost always more fun. You’re always thinking, “What made you into this person?” Most villains don’t say, “I’m wicked; I’m just an evil person.” Most have an agenda, and think they are doing the right thing. Maybe just for them they are doing the right thing, but there is a drive to them that’s always fascinating. How you make it real and believable, and how you make it come from a place that isn’t just mustache-twirling—those kinds of characters are always fun.
How do you spend free time?
My biggest pastime is my daughter. With a 3-year-old, I know more about Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I feel pretty domestic in that regard.