Charm City will shimmer green this April as Wicked flies back into Baltimore in all its splendor. Joining the cast in defying gravity is singer, songwriter, actor and straight LGBTQ ally Ashley Parker Angel. Having risen to fame as a member of the boyband O-Town Parker Angel went on to star as Baltimore teen heartthrob Link Larkin in Broadway’s Hairspray. Recently, he has garnered attention for his sizzling selfies on Instagram. Gay Life recently chatted with the performer to discuss his workout regimen, his upcoming performance, and how behind that muscular chest beats a heart of gold.
The first thing that we need to talk about are your selfies on Instagram. They are absolutely hot! What was your motivation to get in better shape?
[Laughs] Thank you so much! Fitness has always been something that’s been really inspiring for me. Even from a really young age when I saw my dad bench pressing out in the garage. I really think there is no end goal with physical fitness. It really is a discipline. I was 18 in O-Town and from then through going solo, I’ve always lifted light. However, it was always inconsistent. In last couple of years, I had a chance to really devote time to it. It was right when I came back from Hairspray, and I relocated back from New York to LA. I’m not a personal trainer, but I feel like I learned enough that I have the knowledge of a trainer. This time around I’ve been able to structure a routine to incorporate this part of my lifestyle— being on the road.
How does it feel to be part of the cast of Wicked?
It has been a phenomenal experience. The first time I saw Wicked was when I had lost my voice in Hairspray, and I couldn’t go on that night. You know, if you keep a Broadway schedule, you can’t see a Broadway show. It was my one chance to see Wicked. I went with a friend and I had one of those experiences that was just so moving. It hit me so hard, at the end of the curtain, that I was just cemented to my seat. I couldn’t get up. I was just like, “Oh God that was incredible.” When I played Link Larkin, people said, “You’d make a good Fiyero. Have you seen Wicked?”
So, immediately, when I saw it I was like, “How do I get a part?” I was lucky that when I was in LA it was just one of those things that came down the pipeline and my agent called, and said they want to see you for Fiyero. It was a long process with over a month of auditions. At the end of the day, I think I went through five rounds of auditions in which I finally got the word that I got Fiyero. They call [Wicked] the ‘Blockbuster of Broadway.’ Time magazine refers to it as a cultural phenomenon. Now that I’m in the show, it’s so amazing to see all different ages just in awe of the show. For me, every night the standing ovations from the audience really fuels you.
In 2007, you played Link Larkin in the Broadway production of Hairspray, which is set in Baltimore. Have you ever been to Baltimore before?
Yes, I have! I’ve been through Baltimore several times actually. I absolutely remember being there in O-Town. So for me, it’s returning back to the places I’ve performed before and now I’m coming back in this whole new production and a different thing. A couple of the cities have been like that. It’s nice to meet people who say we saw you perform at O-Town and it’s so nice to see you again. I also get a lot of people who discover that I’m in Wicked while in the seats, and people message me and say I can’t believe you’re in Wicked. I’m actually excited about being in Baltimore for the next three weeks.
Do you enjoy travelling around the country?
I do actually. The thing that is really unique about this, as opposed to my experience as music artist, is when you’re a music artist you play usually one show and you drive to the next city that night. I always tell people that it felt like such a blur going to the next city. You never really felt like you were actually where you are. Coming out here for Wicked, we actually sit down in each city for like 3-4 weeks. You’re in a place for almost a month and you get to really emerge yourself in the environment. You get a chance to do touristy things during your schedule. I can say “I did get to experience and spend time in Baltimore” and it allows you to settle down and really enjoy it for more than a second. Those two worlds are completely different.
How does your interpretation of Fiyero differ from other actors before you?
One of the things I tried to avoid doing was watching and really studying what the other actors have brought to the character. There are a lot of videos out there, and I tried to avoid watching others because I wanted to connect to the heart of the role in my own way. The essence of Fiyero really resonates with the essence of me.
Fiyero’s song is ‘Dancing through Life.’ You know when you meet Fiyero that he is this playboy, fun type who doesn’t want to take life seriously. Responsibility is like a bad word in his book. ‘Dancing through Life’ couldn’t better sum up the essence of Fiyero. That’s something I really resonate with because I try not to take things in life too seriously. Fiyero really goes through this arc and he changes from where he was in the beginning. You go on such a journey with these characters that you meet, and that’s what so much fun with this show. It’s about the power of transformation. It’s about what do we really perceive about what’s right and wrong, and if what we perceive is always the truth or is there another story behind it. I think that’s a great message for where we are today as a society.