Alex Mills is in the midst of a heinously busy day. It’s after 11 p.m. and he’s been in heavy-duty tech rehearsals since 5:30. After we get off the phone, he’s going back for another 90 minutes or so. It’s all part of the grueling process of getting a show on its feet.
Mills plays the title role in “Jekyll & Hyde,” the latest movement-based extravaganza from Arlington’s Synetic Theater where Mills has been in several shows since 2008. It started when he took a year off from college overwhelmed by the daunting Boston University tuition price. A friend suggested he check out Synetic. He did, got a callback and is now one of the innovative theater’s senior company members.
If the roster there seems rather insular, he says it’s out of necessity. The grueling physical training regimen its visionaries — Paata and Irina Tsikurishvilli — put their players through means other actors in the region not steeped in the Synetic tradition could get up to speed fast enough for a single show. Synetic members commit to one show a year and staying up to date with their training sessions. Mills is just starting to branch out some — look for him at Studio and Signature in the coming year.
But is the all-consuming nature of the work at Synetic too overwhelming after a few years?
“Doing these shows is so fulfilling,” the 23-year-old Fredericksburg, Va., native says. “There’s such a sense of ownership in the worl, it’s sort of my spiritual outlet as well. It’s what fills me up. A lot of the actors say after they haven’t been doing a show for a month or so, that they feel so empty … we’re very close. We talk about everything and no each other so intimately. They’re the closest people in my life.”
“Jekyll & Hyde” is in previews now and opens officially Thursday and runs through Oct. 21. Visit synetictheater.org for details.
Mills, who’s single, says he has few interests outside theater. He was crashing with a friend recently but just moved to Bloomingdale.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out when I was 21 so I guess that makes it about a year and a half for me. The hardest person to tell (and by hard I don’t mean in any way hard due to repercussions or any fear of not being accepted) was my mom. I think for most guys coming out the first significant person in your life you tell, whether it be friends or family, is always the hardest because its like “There’s no going back now!”
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Anderson Cooper. I admire him for his professionalism and the fact that him being gay is not something that he even feels he has to explain to people. He is what he is and lives his life.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m probably the worst person to ask this to because I am so not in the scene. Being in theater, I would say wherever the cast of a large play or musical goes to is going to be the best nightspot you could find. It’s a free show.
Describe your dream wedding.
I actually don’t have a fully fleshed out idea of what I would want but it would be small, probably on the beach with close friends and family. Or on Mars; the landing of this rover has really got me thinking.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Women’s rights. Legitimate rape? Come on. It’s amazing how these people come into power.
What historical outcome would you change?
Luke Skywalker going to the Dark Side.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The whole era of Britney Spears going crazy.
On what do you insist?
Be able to laugh at yourself.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Dear God, Ryan and I tackled him moving in like a couple of coke heads with a mission; shazamablama!
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Makin’ it Work; somehow”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
That’s a thought I don’t even want to entertain. I’d be afraid it’d turn into an “X-Men 3”-type situation.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I wouldn’t say I believe in something beyond the physical world, necessarily, but I do like to think and hope that there’s some energy out there that directs us or at least collects us at the end.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Be strong and patient.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My friends and family.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we are all super coiffed at all times.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Were the World Mine.” I saw it during the time when I was in rehearsals for a “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Having to keep conversation with people when you don’t want to.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I want an Olympic medal so bad. Ideally, in gymnastics, but that ship has sailed.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That coming out doesn’t make the slightest difference in the world, at least in my life with the people I’m surrounded by.
It was never a choice for me, I started working up here with Synetic Theater when I was 19 and I’ve been trucking along ever since. I love the community, and the fact that D.C. is totally manageable and not overwhelming. And it just fits, at least for right now in my life.