Today I'm meeting Erich Bergen of the hit CBS drama Madam Secretary on CBS. A celebrated Broadway star of the musical Waitress opposite of Katherine McPhee, Erich has also performed at sold out concert venues from Shreveport to Singapore. Decked out in Gucci for the Tony Awards, he also is one of the best-dressed actors in the industry. Be sure to tune into Season 6 of Madam Secretary premiering on October 6th and follow him @erichbergen.
Hello, It’s Ann. It’s great to see you Erich. Can I interview your closet? Please!
Tell me about your red carpet experience at the Tony Awards. You looked amazing in that Gucci suit! Thanks! I love going to the Tony Awards - it’s a real celebration of the theater community here in New York and truly one of the best nights in the city every year. The best people, the best city, and I end up watching the sun rise at the Carlyle Hotel at the after-after party. The next day you feel like death but it’s so worth it. The carpet is always a reunion of friends looking their best but trying not to sweat too much (the Tonys are in June and the red carpet is outside). One year I even hosted the red carpet for CBS, getting to interview all my nominated friends as they went inside (that was the year I actually sweat through my suit and learned never to wear light grey again during the summer). This past year I chose that Gucci tuxedo because it just seemed so…theatrical. I kinda looked like a theater usher. I loved it.
Thank you for being an advocate for arts education! Is there a particular teacher who inspired you to pursue a career in acting/singing? I had a few, but one in particular was Michael Larsen, who we lost somewhat recently, sadly. I met Michael when I was 10 years old at Stagedoor Manor, the theatre camp in the Catskills. Michael was head honcho there - you were both in awe and completely terrified of him. He noticed something in me when I was just a kid, and we worked on that “something” together for many years even in the many years since I left theatre camp. He didn’t inspire me to pursue this career, that was kinda set in stone from when I was very young…like 4 years old, but he did inspire me to chase after the best version of myself and not try to fit in the mold of what anyone else was doing. He helped me find the things that no one else could do and make that my “thing.” That little life hack has been working for me up to this day.
What did you do to celebrate landing a lead role in Waitress? I took myself to Italy and learned my lines while sitting on the balcony of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como. I mean, really…that was a good idea.
What is the strangest thing you’ve had to wear for a role? The facial hair that I had to wear in the film of Jersey Boys was interesting to say the least. It certainly matched how Bob Gaudio, the real-life character I played, wore his facial hair in the 60’s, but man did it look odd on me.
What music did you listen to when you were younger that has inspired your vocal style? I listened to anything I could get my hands on that was considered “popular music.” I discovered MTV when I was about 3, so I became obsessed with Michael Jackson, George Michael, Prince, all those folks. I think my favorite music style was and is R&B, but I think definitions of music genres are kind of irreverent at this point. As long as it had soul, I was into it. Jackie Wilson, Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, Luther Vandross…anyone whos voice could come out of the speaker and give you goosebumps…I wanted to know everything about them. I don’t know if any of those people inspired my “vocal style”, I just kinda open my mouth and sing, but they’re certainly who I hear in my head when I learn a song or when I write a song.
Do you prefer television, movies or books? Which if any movies or shows/literary characters has inspired your style? I’m a theater guy. There’s nothing better than being in a room witnessing great theater. It’s a magical experience. After that, I LOVE sitting in a movie theater and chomping on a giant tub of popcorn. It’s just one of the greatest things to do. Television, while there’s such great stuff on now, I can’t sit that long in one place at home. I’m a big reader as well..I’m just a slow reader which gets a little frustrating.
Style wise, Tom Ford’s A Single Man is like porn to me. The tailoring, the art direction, the damn font on George Falconer’s letterhead. It’s perfection and then some. It’s like warm fuzzy blanket of style and taste. Other than that? Marcello Mastroianni in La Notte, Alain Delon in Purple Noon, Richard Gere in American Gigolo - all inspiring to me.
What is your favorite song to perform onstage? What is your favorite song to sing in the shower? I don’t sing in the shower but I certainly do my vocal warm-ups in there. It’s the best acoustics. On stage? Being part of the legacy of the great music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons because of Jersey Boys has truly been an honor. Those songs, other than just being wonderful songs, live in the hearts of so many people and they’re passed down from generation to generation. So when I sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” - I can feel the molecules in the room change. I look out and see couples taking each others hands and subtly mouthing the lyrics as I sing them…it’s a really cool feeling.
One of my go to restaurants in the city is Joe Allen but if I had an all expense dinner I would hire a private chef at home.
My friend would describe me as_driven but my parents would tell you I’m very driven.
I spent too much money on clothing but save a lot of money on tickets to sporting events.
I would love to go on vacation here Giraffe Manor in Kenya and bring no one. I just want to be alone with the giraffes.