Feature: Q&A With “The Secret Garden”‘s John Loughney

Q&A: The Secret Garden‘s John Loughney


John Loughney plays “Archibald” in “The Secret Garden” opening March 26, 2015 at NextStop


This is the first Q&A in a series for audiences to get to know the cast of NextStop’s “The Secret Garden” musical.

John Loughney has been seen in at NextStop/ESP in “Gutenberg! The Musical”! (Doug), “Into the Woods” (Baker), “Falsettos” (Whizzer), and “Tick, Tick…Boom!” (Jonathan).

He was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for his work in “The Full Monty”, and has recently been seen in “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”  at Creative Cauldron and “Celebrate Broadway” at The Kennedy Center.

Loughney takes on the role of “Archibald” in “The Secret Garden”, opening March 26, 2015.

What would you say The Secret Garden is about?

Loughney: “Hmmmm, this is directly from NextStop’s website and explains it better than I ever could. I’m resourceful:

‘Mary Lennox is a sad and forgotten little girl, sent to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle after the tragic death of her parents. Left alone to wander about a vast Yorkshire estate, Mary finds an equally neglected garden. She slowly begins to discover its ghosts, which will help unravel the mysteries of her family’s painful past. Can her forgotten garden return to life with enough love and care?’ “

What if anything, do you have in common with your character?

Loughney: “Next to nothing, honestly. Archibald is a pretty miserable/ guilt ridden person who hides himself away and only talks to his son while he sleeps.

I guess, on some level, I do connect with his dealing with the loss of a loved one and I tap into that energy, but otherwise the lack of common attributes makes it almost more interesting to discover a character.  “

What do you like to do to prepare for a role? For a performance?

I always like finding a character’s physicality and making it different from my own and different than previous characters I’ve played. Whether it’s a walk or the way they carry themselves or even the way they dress, I like finding their physical quirks. It helps me focus, oddly enough.

John Loughney Katie McManus and Priscilla Cuellar in "Into the Woods" at NextStop (Photo by Traci J Brooks Studios)

John Loughney Katie McManus and Priscilla Cuellar in “Into the Woods” at NextStop (Photo by Traci J Brooks Studios)

When did you start acting?

Loughney: “High School. The first show I ever auditioned for was Brigadoon…and I didn’t get cast. It was high school and they seemingly cast everyone (except for me). It pretty much scarred me for life. Jerks.

Sophomore year I got in West Side Story as a Jet. I redeemed myself. “

What is your dream role?

Loughney: ” Oh man, I have a few that change as I get older. Bobby in Company, really any of the men in The Producers, and years from now, Tevye. Oh, and Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher is a recent addition. Molina in Spiderwoman. I can keep going….”

What is your favorite part of working with NextStop Theatre?

Loughney: “The fact that “the roof is made of dirty thatch”.   [Editors note: “dirty thatch” was a recurring joke in “Gutenberg! The Musical! as well as the name of a very popular signature cocktail at NextStop’s bar in January 2015.]


I love this space. There are only a few like it in the DC area. The intimate nature of the theatre allows you to connect with an audience and allows the audience to connect with you. The space really aids in the storytelling of each show and elevates it to new levels. A lot of shows are built for large, proscenium stages where you can’t necessarily be subtle in your acting. Spaces like NextStop allow for subtle, genuine performances, which I appreciate as an actor

I also have a great appreciation for what Evan [Hoffmann, NextStop’s Producing Artistic Director,] has done in such a short amount of time in establishing this company. It all started with a Facebook post years ago, stating he would follow his dream and start a professional theatre company. I have great respect for anyone who can drop everything and just go for it. “

John Loughney and Ryan Burke in "Gutenberg! The Musical!" at NextStop in 2015. (Photo by Jaclyn Young.)

John Loughney and Ryan Burke in “Gutenberg! The Musical!” at NextStop in 2015. (Photo by Jaclyn Young.)

Can you share a memorable moment from a past production with us?

Loughney: “Oh boy, there have been many, actually, even with the Elden Street Players, but I’d have to share a story from one of our previews for Into the Woods, the scene where the giant’s wife arrives looking for Jack. The Giant’s Wife was played by Kathie Lee Gifford, who pre-recorded all of her lines for us. Well, one particular night when she arrived her cues got a bit out of whack, so, she seemingly jumped ahead in the story and then came back and then walked away and came back. It was hilarious. We all were acting out hearts out, reacting to her lines and then reacting to the sound effects of her footsteps. We knew that Rapunzel needed to be stepped on to move on with the scene, but we couldn’t quite figure out how to make that happen. It was a hilarious mess to see many accomplished actors try and fix the story. Boy, did we try! Eventually, Evan Hoffmann, who directed the show, had to hop up and stop the scene. We all stepped off stage and laughed it off. I will always remember this moment of live theatre magic. “

What is your favorite musical?

Loughney: “This is like asking who is my favorite child….I have an answer, but I can’t make it public. “

What other work have you been doing recently?

Loughney: “By day, I also work for an wonderful local IT company in Reston called Network Alliance (Shameless plug #1: support local small business!). My coworkers came to see me in Gutenberg and I don’t think they will ever see me the same again.

In the theater world and outside of my two previous shows at NextStop this past year, I did Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at Creative Cauldron in Falls Church in the fall. (Shameless plug #2: We were just nominated for an [Helen Hayes Award] for Best Ensemble, I had to mention it, I’m very proud of our little team!)  “

When you’re not on stage how do you like to spend your time?

Loughney: “I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.”



Stay tuned for our next Q&A installment leading up to the opening of “The Secret Garden” on March 26, 2015!

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