Almost 40 years later, Barry (‘Greg Brady’) Williams remains proud of his ‘Bunch’

[20 March 2008]

By Brian McTavish

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Barry Williams is not Greg Brady. He knows that.

But the 53-year-old actor and singer appreciates that by having played eldest son Greg in five prime-time seasons (1969-1974) and millions of reruns of “The Brady Bunch,” he remains a viable pop-culture commodity.

Williams is starring in the musical comedy “Married Alive” through April 13 at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kan. He recently sat down to answer questions supplied by readers of The Kansas City Star.

Q. Do you keep in contact with the cast members of “The Brady Bunch”?

A. Yes, regular contact, with the exception of Eve Plumb (Jan Brady).

Q. Any particular reason for that?

A. We’re friendly, but she does not like being associated with “The Brady Bunch.” She just doesn’t. And I remind her of that. So I think that’s kind of problematic. I talk about the show all the time.

Q. Why are you so comfortable talking about “The Brady Bunch”?

A. Well, I’m proud of the show, for one thing. It’s a very, very important part of my life, and it’s been an important part of my career. It’s not as though we did five years of “The Brady Bunch” and then didn’t revisit it. We had four different series out of that show. We had nine reunions. We had books, movies, plays, television specials - all kinds of things. The show has never been off the air. I am associated with that show everywhere I go and all the time. And I’ve just never run from it.

The only reason I would be uncomfortable is if it prevented my ability to get other work. And it doesn’t. I’ve had a very successful career in musical theater. I continue to work in television. I had a best-selling book (“Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg”). I executive-produced that book into a television movie on ABC. I’ve had my cameos in “Dickie Roberts” and in the “Brady Bunch” movies. And so I’ve felt that I’ve had a diversified career.

I work in Vegas quite a bit. I tour with a concert group that we call the Original Idols Live, which are the Bay City Rollers and Rex Smith and the Cowsills and Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods, and I host the show and perform in it. I host a (hit `70s music) radio show six days a week for Sirius Radio.

So I’m out and busy. And, you know, when I come in, producers want me to promote the project that they have coming into their theaters. And if I go out to a radio show or to a local television show or something, they are invariably going to ask me about “The Brady Bunch” at some point. So if I refused to do that ... I mean, I call my blog the Greg Brady Project.

Q. James Wright, who originated your role in “Married Alive” at the American Heartland Theatre, wonders what you thought of the guy who sings your part on the “Married Alive” CD.

A. He has a really good voice, and I learned melodies from him.

Q. I think you just gave Mr. Wright something to put on his resume.

A. He is a very good musical comedy singer.

Q. What makes one of those?

A. In musical theater, if you can’t hear it and you can’t understand it, you don’t have a show. Musical comedy is delivering and furthering the story. And in a lot of pop music, and certainly rock, if you don’t have lyrics to read, you won’t know what they’re saying.

Some people excel at musical comedy. Some people excel at pop. I do both - and I don’t know if I excel at either one of them (laughs).

Q. Have you been asked or would you like to participate in “Dancing With the Stars”?

A. No, I have not been asked. I have been declined a couple of times. I put it out there. I think I’m perfect for the show. I think I’m a lot better known than most of the people on that show. And I’d have a ball doing it. I think part of it is the producer is from England, and our show did not play much over there. So he sort of doesn’t get the following for the Brady thing.

Q. One more thing: Ginger or Mary Ann?

A. Mary Ann.

Q. I ask because you played opposite Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” in a stage musical version of the `60s sitcom. You were Thurston Howell III, and she was Mrs. Howell, right?

A. It was great.

Q. So what do you think about her recent sentence of six months’ probation for getting caught with marijuana?

A. Aren’t we over this marijuana thing?

Q. Apparently not.

A. I just think it’s much ado about nothing. It’s terrible. I have her phone number. I’m going to call her and give her my support.

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