WWE veteran Fred Rosser (fka Darren Young) made his return to The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast where he and Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman discussed Rosser’s role in Theality TV, a new reality show available now via Broadway on Demand. Rosser discussed what performance lessons he learned from wrestling, specifically from Vince McMahon, that he brought with him to the stage.
“Well, one thing I learned from Vince McMahon when he would do promo class years ago, and it’s still in my head, is a few things. One, keep your hands up,” Rosser recalled. “That’s one rule from Vince McMahon. Second rule is never be afraid to make a fool yourself. He would always say that in promo class. So years ago, I would do wrestling interviews like this and try to deepen my voice and all that stuff to sound more masculine.
“Now, I can just be myself. If I need to do a role, which I was doing in the musical, I did it to the best of my ability and made it as entertaining as possible. The work I do now for New Japan, I’m just taking my time. When I’m in the ring, I take my time. When I’m in the ring, I envision myself being the black Randy Orton. No one knows that but me. When I go out there, be the black Randy Orton but make it my own, the in-between stuff, taking my time getting to the ring.
“Randy Orton’s a big inspiration of mine and a lot of stuff that I’ve learned in wrestling, in general, I just brought that to the stage and just, again, made it my own and wasn’t afraid to be soft, and wasn’t afraid to make a fool of myself and wasn’t afraid to be tough on stage. I brought it all in the musical, and you’ll definitely see it.”
Rosser explained the concept of Theality TV noting that it is not ballet. He talked about how Chris Jericho was an inspiration for him to be the first wrestler to dive into an off-Broadway production.
“Well, when I was offered this role, probably November, December of 2019, I was 36 at the time. If I was 26, I wouldn’t have signed on to this role because, at the time, 26, I wasn’t out,” Rosser noted. “I would have said, ‘Oh, that’s for gay people.’ When in all actuality, I was living a lie myself. So at 36, one of the biggest inspirations, and I say in any and all interviews I do moving forward, the biggest inspiration for me doing the musical was actually Chris Jericho, and he had his deal with Dancing With The Stars.
“And I said to myself, ‘Man, this musical theater sounds kind of cool, something that I would never ever do, but Chris Jericho, he’s doing everything. He’s got his rock band, and he’s done Dancing With The Stars. If he can do something like that, then let me be the first WWE veteran, New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar to dive headfirst into this off-Broadway musical,’ which is about marriage equality based out of Fire Island, Little House On A Ferry. And I had the second lead, so much to remember. The script alone was overwhelming.
“So when I was given the script in December dealing with the director, I couldn’t stand him at the time. I wanted to really put the elbow right under his chin, and fast forward to when I did the musical and I worked with the director, Rob, every day leading up into this musical and flying out to New York, and I got all my lines. I got my lines down. I got the singing down. I got the dancing down but capturing it with the reality part was something that you gotta tune into because watching it back is just so funny and so real too because I was the first one there and the last one to leave when I was on set because I wanted to get it right.”
Rosser then discussed his experience in the musical noting that he did not have much experience, but his work ethic helped him through his performances. He also discussed his solo and how emotional he got after finishing his performance.
“Everyone had experience, and I was that fish out of water. Rob’s vision was pure genius, especially watching it back now, involving my mom who was just off the hook and me being the fish-out-of-water story, WWE veteran, being thrown into this musical, I had no experience,” Rosser said. “But my work ethic really spoke for itself because, again, I was first one there, last one to leave. Right before the pandemic hit, I was traveling back and forth to New York City on the train, but even before the pandemic really hit, I’m a germaphobe to begin with so when you’re on the train and you’re holding the thing, I always take my sleeve and hold on to it.
“I don’t like holding onto things. I’ve always carried around masks in my toiletry bags just because, and now that we need them now, I’m okay with it as long as I’m safe and everyone else around me is safe. Like I said, the work ethic really spoke for itself because when it was all said and done, I was performing in front of people, it was magical because it wasn’t me in the ring. It was me. I have a solo where I’m by myself, and I’m sing talking. And it was one of the awesome moments of my career, really, in performing because once I was done with my solo in Little House On A Prairie, I got off the stage, and I was crying my eyes out.
“I had a couple scenes that I had to get back out on stage, but after I was done with my solo, I was crying my eyes out, and I went up to the girls that were part of my routine. I was like, ‘Look at me. Look at me. I’m crying my eyes out,’ and the girls that were part of my routine said, ‘Well, this is why we do this.’ And they all had experience, and they love doing musical theater. And that’s why they do it because of the reaction from the people. I have no experience, but for me to get a reaction throughout my solo was like, man, this is pretty awesome. I’ve got the people invested. Everything I’ve learned from WWE, performing, I just, again, brought that work ethic with me.”
You can watch Fred as part of Theality TV via Broadway on Demand. All episodes are FREE to watch until the end of December. Rosser’s full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.