Will Youmans (inset) is from a show-business family. His mom is playwright Elizabeth Egloff. His dad builds sets for Broadway, including the Sinatra musical, “Come Fly Away” and a revival of “West Side Story.” His uncle, William, his namesake, was the professor/goat in the original cast of “Wicked.”
And somewhere in his lineage is Broadway composer Vincent Youmans, who wrote “No No Nanette” and collaborated with the top lyricists of Broadway’s Golden Age.
Will has been a go-to kid at Rockland Country Day School in Congers for years, where his classmates included Omar Yazbek, son of Broadway composer and wild-man songwriter David Yazbek.
He has had some plum roles:
Sheridan Whiteside in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” who talked constantly;
The Baker in “Into the Woods,” who sang a lot;
Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” who scowled a lot;
Last spring, he was the oversized Audrey 2 plant in last year’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” a character known more for her appetite than her dialogue.
Last fall, he was Scapino in “Scapino.”
This year, he’s comedian Neal Tilden in “1940’s Radio Hour.”
“A lot of people describe this as a show about a radio show,” the senior said. “I describe it as a radio show. There’s about 20 minutes of the plot being set up and the rest of the show is just the show. It’s closer to vaudeville than a regular musical.”
There are songs, and comedy and ads. And patriotism, too.
Tilden displeases his wealthy family by going into comedy.
For Will Youmans, it was an early role, and a single laugh, that got him started.
In seventh grade, he was a nameless character in “Guys and Dolls.”
“I’m a nobody,” he recalled. “I don’t even have a name, because I came in late to the production. There was one scene where I just had to walk across the stage and I said one line and it got a laugh and I was like ‘I’m doing THAT for six years.'”
And he did.
Recently, he has begun doing standup at the Town Crier in Beacon, on alternating Wednesdays. His act is absurdist, he said, with parallels to Stephen Wright or Zach Galifanakis.
He has been waitlisted at Harvard (“I applied as a joke and got weirdly closer than I thought”) and is considering a gap-year program and starting auditions to get into the family business.
“The 1940s Radio Hour”—7 p.m., April 24; 7 p.m., April 25; 2 and 7 p.m., April 26. $15, $12 students and seniors—845-268-6802.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Rockland Country Day. Enjoy!