Jason Alexander can’t speak but that doesn’t mean he’s short on words.
The former “Seinfeld” star is currently on vocal rest between performances of his one man show “An Evening With Jason Alexander and His Hair” at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.
Although best known as the aggrieved George Costanza, Alexander is a Tony Award-winning actor-singer, and he returns to put those skills to work when he performs as part of the opening of the Boston Pops’ 129th season at Symphony Hall on Wednesday.
OPENING NIGHT AT THE POPS WITH JASON ALEXANDER
We decided to connect with the former Boston University student by e-mail to see what he had to type for himself.
Q. I’m sorry to hear that you’re on vocal rest, but is there anything positive about it?
A. My wife says I listen a bit better. Actually, it’s rather a pleasant thing occasionally to rest from speaking. When we speak, we don’t edit or consider quite as well as when we just think or write. It’s not a bad exercise every so often.
Q. “An Evening With Jason Alexander and His Hair” is a great title. How did you come up with it?
A. Chicken and the egg — first came the hair. The hair came about as a result of my not being cast in several projects because of my continuing resemblance to George Costanza. But as I was developing this comedy show and my own comedy persona, my concern was that people would anticipate an evening with George rather than an evening with Jason. Then, as I was writing, I realized I could use my wearing a hairpiece as an introduction to all the crazy things people do to try and look good or remain young or attract the opposite sex. And thus the hair and I entered into a partnership. And his agent demanded that he get billing.
Q. How is the show going?
A. Beautifully. I’ve been having fun, which is saying a lot because this kind of “theater” is not my favorite. The reason for that is that until I actually get on stage, there is no ensemble, no community. Most stand-up comics relish performing “in one” — solo. They like the autonomy. I went into performing for the community. Being backstage with your company of fellows is the best part of working in live theater. That energy, that combined focus, the synergy — it’s addictive. But being backstage alone, without all that is . . . well, lonely.
Luckily, the audience has been compensating. Once I get out there, the material and the evening have been received really well. Everybody seems to be having a great time and being at the center of that is a lot of fun.
Q. You’re returning to play with the Pops. In 1996 the call came somewhat out of the blue and you talked a bit about your nerves at the time. Now, nearly 20 years later, are you feeling more confident about fronting the orchestra?
A. This may not be well known but the show I’m doing with [conductor] Keith [Lockhart] and the kids is one that we did for a private fund-raiser about a year ago. So, we have to assume that it went really well or they wouldn’t have asked me to come back with it again and to join them this summer in Tanglewood. Listen, I’m always nervous about singing with an orchestra like this because I always feel like more rehearsal is better. But I love singing, I love singing this material and I love performing with the Pops. So, the nerves and doubts get left far behind.
Q. Do you plan to share memories of your time in Boston?
A. There is one Boston memory to get shared during the course of the show. I won’t tip it at this point. But it’s a doozy. Boston was a great town to go to college in. Maybe that’s why there’s so many colleges there. I love the town and I loved Boston University. I had great times and made great friends while I was there. I try to stay a part of the university community as a board member to the dean of the school of fine arts. Boston, once in your heart, is never really gone.
Q. How does live performance feed or use your creative energies differently from film and television work?
A. I was drawn into performing because of the theater, because of the stage. Live performance in front of live people is my most favorite and the most exciting form of work I can do. I guess it is the artist in me that wants to express himself directly to the audience that enjoys this arena. In film and television, there are so many people that participate in the process between my performance and the audience’s viewing of it. Almost always, those collaborators improve upon the work I’ve done to some degree or certainly integrate it into a whole that I could not have accomplished single-handedly. However, they are altering my work and my intention to the audience. And I have just enough training and just enough ego to prefer when that doesn’t happen.
Q. How frequently are you asked about a “Seinfeld” reunion? Is it irritating or do you not mind figuring that it comes from a place of fans wanting more of something they loved?
A. We get asked about a “Seinfeld” reunion all the time. I guess the arc on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” wasn’t enough for the diehard fans.
I am never annoyed by people’s love and interest in our show. It is a rare gift. Acting is not terribly important work and I have always felt a bit of guilt about pursuing something that is so selfish. I love doing it, but it is never something that feels like it’s going to change or save the world. However, people have shared their experiences of our show from all over the world. I have received letters and spoken to folks who have lost family members, suffered through terrible illness or served in our military both here and overseas. They have all gone out of their way to tell me how much our show brought back laughter and a sense of humanity to their lives. Their reaction has made this important work.
Q. Do you ever meet people who haven’t seen the show? And how do you react?
A. I tend to congratulate them on having very full lives.