Shopkeeper, philanthropist, star of stage and screen — Bryan Batt wears more hats than a mid-century adman on Madison Avenue. Add Mardi Gras monarch to that list, as the New Orleans native will ride in Orpheus' Feb. 23 parade. On Thursday, he enters the spotlight at Le Chat Noir for "Batt on a Hot Tin Roof," a "mostly new" revue of treasured songs. Batt spoke with The Gambit about his one-man show, his award-winning TV series Mad Men, and how Burt Bacharach factors into both.
How did this revue come about? You've done a few of these.
Right after (Hurricane) Katrina (Le Chat director) Barbara Motley asked me to put together an evening to help open up Le Chat. And we did, and it went over really well. That was "Bryan Batt at Le Chat." Then it became "Bryan Batt and All That Chat." Then "Bryan Batt: Le Chat Happens." I don't think we ever did "Bryan Batt, Same Old Chat." [Laughs] But it really is just a night of songs that mean something to me.
You characterize one Burt Bacharach medley as "soooo Mad Men." Has Sal (Romano, Batt's character on the AMC series) crept into your stage persona?
A little bit. There's a song I do called "No Moon At All," and it goes into "Old Devil Moon." It reminded me a little of this night where we had a cast party and everyone ended up in the hot tub. ... The medley came out of trying to find something that was definitive. The next season will be '64, so Burt Bacharach was in full swing. The first song, I think, is from '63, "Wives and Lovers." Then it goes into "This Guy's In Love With You," and if you watch Mad Men, you know my character has different kinds of man crushes. So it can be interpreted many different ways.
Is the revue format more difficult than doing a play?
I don't know why, but it comes to me naturally. I've seen so many performers that can't break that fourth wall — no matter what, they're still onstage. To let your own personality out is, I think, the important thing. Betty Buckley told me a while back — she's fantastic at it, you'd think you're in her living room — "It's a totally different animal than playing a part onstage. You have to engage the audience, and you have to be so open to them." It's really an acting lesson most of the time. ... My piano player's coming in from New York, Michael Levine. He's come in every time. The last time, there was a severe snowstorm and his flight kept getting canceled. He walked in at 7:45.
Le Chat almost hit the fan.
Exactly! Hey, that's a good one: "Le Chat Hits the Fan." I think I might try that.
"Batt on a Hot Tin Roof"
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thu., Feb. 12
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com