Urban Cowboy may have gotten bull-whipped by critics when it opened (and dang near closed) on Broadway last month, but 24-year-old scene-wrangler Matt Cavenaugh seems to have escaped the ambush relatively unscathed.

Yessirree, the buzz on the theater scene is that even though Cowboy is a turkey, John Travolta's successor in the musical adaptation of his 1980 film is a star on the rise. Nonetheless, challenges remain on the horizon. Eventually, the Arkansas native will have to convince folks that, contrary to what all those risqué publicity stills suggest, he's more than just a purdy face and washboard abs. And right now, Gotham's new It boy must stare down our Seven Silly Questions about... um, his purdy face and washboard abs.TV Guide Online: Ads for Urban Cowboy show you riding a mechanical bull with a half-opened shirt. Strangely, there's no such scene in the show. Isn't that false advertising?
Matt Cavenaugh:
It may be. But there is a mechanical bull, and I do ride it, and it is a sexy show. And there used to be more nudity on my character's part. There was a song cut in previews where more [of my body] was exposed. So I guess at the time, it wasn't that false.

TVGO: Does it bug you that your abs are getting more attention than your singing and acting?
Yeah... it's an interesting thing when you know the way you look is how a project is going to market itself. To overcome that and say, "There's more here!" is a challenge.

TVGO: So, how does one get abs like that? Personally, I've been doing crunches for 10 years and all I've got to show for it is a one-pack. What's your secret?
Genes, I guess. To be quite honest, I work a lot. I'm going constantly with this show so my metabolism and my energy is always going. Plus, I'm at the gym a lot and I stay away from carbs. I'm pretty much a meat and potatoes guy, just now, I don't eat as many potatoes. Mostly meat.

TVGO: Has Jennifer Love Hewitt started stalking you yet?
No, not at all. (laughing) That's funny, because I'm friends with one of her ex-beaus, [theater vet] Patrick Wilson. That's funny.

TVGO: Speaking of which, and I know you've dodged this question before, but are you spoken for?
Actually, I am in a relationship, and that's all I'll say.

TVGO: Fair enough. I understand you met Al Gore on opening night. Tell me: Who's more animated, the former V.P. or the mechanical bull?
(laughing) I'd have to say the mechanical bull.

TVGO: You know, some might say that I'm a bit of a theater star. Do you recognize me?
I don't. What did I see you in?

TVGO: I did some community theater in New Jersey. Biloxi Blues...
I love Biloxi Blues.

TVGO: I played Arnold Epstein.
Was that the Matthew Broderick part?

TVGO: No, Arnold's the nerdy friend. I was also in Six Degrees of Separation...
(growing uncomfortable) That's a great show.

TVGO: ... and Music Man, Anything Goes...
(begins to squirm) All the classical musical theater pieces. Well, that's great. Very cool.