Megan McLachlan speaks with Geno Segers, who plays Dwayne on NBC’s Perfect Harmony, about being in a TV love triangle and keeping his head on straight (literally!).
If you like Glee and Schitts Creek, then you’ll probably love NBC’s Perfect Harmony, which is about music professor/widower Arthur Cochran (Bradley Whitford) who becomes director of a church choir in a small Kentucky town. As the choir helps Arthur grapple with grief, Arthur’s no-nonsense attitude helps the choir members deal with their own issues, including Geno Segers’ Dwayne, who confronts his crush on his best friend’s soon-to-be ex wife.
I had a chance to chat with Segers about what it’s like working on this quirky little show, how it portrays small towns, and what’s in store for Dwayne in Season 1.
Awards Daily: This show has such an amazing cast. What’s it like working with this ensemble?
Geno Segers: What I have come to appreciate about each and every one of the cast members of this show is that they are always very prepared. They’ve already chosen the options, so it’s really pushing me to not be the weakest link. These guys are really just all professionals. Even Spencer [Allport, who plays Cash], this little kid comes to work ridiculously prepared. We’re all really excited and all just really working hard to affect each other, and it sort of just comes out on camera.
AD: It totally does. You’re right. There’s a chemistry between you all, that develops pretty quickly. It’s hard sometimes for shows to find that chemistry, but I think by the second episode, you all seem to gel together.
GS: Yeah, and what’s even more staggering is that it really does get better. I look at the pilot and think, ‘Man, there are some things I could have done better,’ because now I really live in Dwayne. It’s always that way. The more you do it, the more locked in you get. I feel like it’s only getting better and people are really going to fall in love with these characters.
AD: Speaking of falling in love, your character Dwayne has a crush on Ginny (Anna Camp) and has this amazing breakthrough in the first episode to the tune of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” How long do you think this crush has been festering? Dwayne says something, like, 10 years. I was wondering if you have a backstory in mind for Dwayne and how long this has been going on.
GS: This is definitely something that has been going on for quite some time, but because Dwayne is so shy and so reserved and so unsure of himself, he tends to not take the opportunities that come his way. Whereas Wayne (Will Goldberg) is completely oblivious to his own inefficiencies or his own lack of ability; he’s more likely to take an opportunity because he’s completely ignorant. That dynamic between Wayne and Dwayne is kind of like a safe place for Wayne and Dwayne. I think that when they became friends, they were all very young, and I don’t think there wasn’t ever a time where Dwayne wasn’t infatuated with Ginny. It’s just that one day he’s thinking about asking her to get ice cream and Wayne and Ginny are coming back from ice cream. While Dwayne is thinking about it, Wayne has already done it. He’s a day late and a dollar short—all the time. Then after meeting Arthur Cochran, he decides to man up and make his pitch because Ginny and Wayne are about to get divorced, so he sees this as an opportunity, and he’s trying to grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.
AD: Why do you think he’s friends with Wayne? They’re so different!
GS: Dwayne feels accepted by Wayne, and Dwayne has always, his entire life, looked for that validation. He wasn’t able to get it from his family, because his dad wanted him to play football, and Dwayne wasn’t interested in that. He wasn’t going to try to live up to anybody; he wanted to do his own thing. He’s like a bit of a unicorn because he doesn’t really want to do what’s typical in rural Kentucky. He wants to expand his thinking and his ideas. He wants to broaden his horizons. He’s the type of guy who would do Tai Chi.
AD: Yes, he is!
GS: He wants to experience things in a worldly way, but he’s in rural Kentucky. But that doesn’t stop him because he’s open to a lot of different things, that some people might not be open to. It doesn’t matter where you are, there are open-minded people and closed-minded people. Dwayne just happens to be in Kentucky, and he wants to experience the world.
AD: I like that idea, because what I like about this show is that I always worry about shows set in small towns, because I worry they’re going to make fun of small-town people (as someone who grew up in a small town myself), but it doesn’t do that.
GS: No, no, no. A lot of people believe that a small town would look at Perfect Harmony and love it, because it’s a reflection of them, in a certain way. A person from Chicago might say, ‘Oh my god, these country folk.’ But in actual fact, it’s really not. It’s really just a reflection or an idea or a story that might have happened in a rural town in middle America. It’s not far off from what actually happens in middle America. For example, if we did a show based in a city, and people are walking in and out of each other’s apartments, when does that happen?
AD: Yeah, right!
GS: They don’t even knock! They just walk in! That doesn’t happen. It’s satire, man. It’s a story.
AD: It comes across really well. It pokes fun at even Arthur, too. He’s this snobby New Yorker, but he doesn’t have his life together at all. He’s living on a boat and using knives to open cans of beans. He’s falling apart.
GS: For a person who has lost his very best friend, the only friend in their life, you can literally see them reacting in a similar way that Arthur is reacting. It’s not far-fetched. And there are big burly guys who farm goats, I’m sure!
AD: What is the musical training and rehearsing like on set? Do you have a lot of rehearsals?
GS: We do have a lot of rehearsal time and studio time. We do put a lot of work in off stage to get that right, but once we get it right, we only have to do it once. It’s done and then we can sing it on stage, but it doesn’t have to be perfect on stage, since we have the recording, which is great.
AD: I know you played Mufasa in The Lion King (Australian musical production). This is getting back to some musical roots for you. What’s that been like?
GS: I was always worried that they were going to want me to sing really high or in a high key. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to sing it because I’m a basso profundo, but I realized that I don’t have to do it eight times a week. I only have to do it once. So it opened up doors for me to expand my ability to sing higher and I was surprised I was able to get to these very high notes—once. (Laughs.) I don’t have to do it eight times a week, which is a blessing for me.
AD: Dwayne is quite a different role from your character on Banshee and other rough-and-tough types. Were you excited to do something more light-hearted?
GS: You know, I was honestly excited to get to keep my face and keep my head on my body. I was just so excited that I’m not going to get murdered in some brutal way. This is great!
AD: That’s amazing! So my last question for you: Will we see Dwayne and Ginny go on an actual date or for the love triangle to come out a little more?
GS: I can’t say what will happen with Dwayne and Ginny, but I will say this: I will say that it is going to work out between the two of them. Now, how it works out, I’m not gonna say, but it is going to work out and things are going to be lovely.
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.