Four-time Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce will always be a small-screen star due to his 11-season stint as Frasier's neurotic brother. But these days he's just a Broadway baby hoping for his first Tony nod for his work in the tuner Curtains. Although Pierce began his career on stage, he made his musical debut in the Broadway blockbuster Monty Python's Spamalot in 2005 and fell in love with the genre. Soon he signed up for Curtains, the final musical by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, the team responsible for Cabaret and Chicago. As a theater-crazed homicide detective investigating the murder of an actress, Pierce gives an utterly charming performance, singing, dancing and falling in love as he labors to figure out whodunit.
TVGuide.com: My mother and I just adored Curtains.
David Hyde Pierce: I'm glad you liked it. When did you see it?
TVGuide.com: March 27.
Pierce: Oh, good. It was basically ready to be seen then.
TVGuide.com: Was there a point when it wasn't?
Pierce: Let's just say that we made a lot of changes between the invited dress in February and the opening.
TVGuide.com: I know that the show had a tumultuous journey. The original book writer, Peter Stone, died before finishing it. Then lyricist Fred Ebb passed away and Rupert Holmes stepped in to finish their work.
Pierce: Yeah, the show has had many incarnations. But the version we're doing solidified in workshops that we did two years ago in New York.
TVGuide.com: Despite all that backstage drama, Curtains seems like a really fun show to do. It's so light and funny and uplifting.
Pierce: In a lot of ways, it reminds me of being in Spamalot. Both shows take people away from all the crap of life for two hours. Our audiences have consistently gone wild, which is very gratifying.
TVGuide.com: Are you an autograph giver, or do you rush by the waiting crowds?
Pierce: I always stop to say hello and sign. In fact, I would say that I have signed so many autographs that they are probably worth less than a quarter of a cent if you were to go on eBay. I always feel bad when [autograph resellers] come up with their photos from Frasier for me to sign. I want to tell them, "I think you actually have to pay people to take these."
TVGuide.com: You've done two Broadway shows back-to-back. Have you abandoned TV and film?
Pierce: Not permanently, although I'm contracted with Curtains through 2008, so after a year of eight shows a week I may just sit quietly at home for a while. I'm really lucky to be able to be on stage. A lot of people get to the end of a theatrical career and say, "Well, I've devoted my life to this incredible art form and I have no money. Let me find a television show." I already had the TV show. For me to have found that financial security at this stage in my career is an incredible luxury.
TVGuide.com: Your Frasier dad, John Mahoney, is also on Broadway in the revival of Prelude to a Kiss. Have you two been hanging out?
Pierce: A bit. [Frasier star] Kelsey [Grammer] was in town doing My Fair Lady at the New York Philharmonic and we all had breakfast.
TVGuide.com: Did the patrons in the restaurant go nuts when they saw the three of you together?
Pierce: We got a few double- and triple-takes from people who couldn't quite figure out if they were in reality or television.
TVGuide.com: Grammer has a sitcom pilot, Back to You, set up at Fox. Has he talked to you about doing a guest spot?
Pierce: No. When Kelsey, John and I were together, we ended up talking more about theater projects.
TVGuide.com: So you and Grammer don't have any immediate plans to reunite?
Pierce: When he was in town, we recorded a Simpsons episode. Years ago, when Frasier was first on, I came on The Simpsons as Sideshow Cecil, the brother of Kelsey's Sideshow Bob character. And now we're back. I have no idea when it will air, though.
TVGuide.com: Nothing else on the horizon?
Pierce: I don't like to make any plans. It's impossible. I may continue with Curtains after a year, as I did with Spamalot, although this role is more physically demanding, so I don't know how much of me will be left to re-sign. I also have my work with the Alzheimer's Association.
TVGuide.com: I read that your grandfather suffered from the disease.
Pierce: My grandfather and my dad. It's devastating. When people hear about Alzheimer's they think, "Oh, people get forgetful, that's too bad." But they forget everything. You have no life other than what you've lived. If you don't remember the person you married or your partner, it's torture both for the person going through it and for their loved ones. I've worked with the Alzheimer's Association for about 10 years now. Right now we're gearing up a major push to raise awareness, to get people to recognize how serious the problem is. The baby boomers start turning 60 this year, and that's when the number of people with the disease starts to creep up. You've probably noticed more and more articles about this issue. Even TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Sopranos have incorporated Alzheimer's and dementia into their story lines. That's a reflection of its prevalence in the culture.
TVGuide.com: Wow... I'm sorry. We started out on such a fun, happy note!
Pierce: Well, this is the reason I do a show like Curtains. So many people come up to me afterward and say, "Oh, my life is so crappy. I'm going through this or that or I just read the newspaper. It was so great to come here and have this incredible time." I feel the same way just being in the show.
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