Stuart Bloom’s careers have almost perfectly bisected his life to date: He spent the first 30 years of his life as an actor and comedian, the next 31 as a physician. This weekend, he combines the two parts of his career in the musical How To Avoid Burnout In 73 Minutes (A Minimally Invasive Musical Procedure) at the Open Eye Figure Theatre. The show is sold out.
“It’s a fun show. I’m playing a guy called Stuart Bloom. I know him pretty well,” Bloom said. “It’s sincere, hopefully funny, it goes dark at times. I feel like I’m over worrying about whether people like or not. The one person I’m trying to please the most is me.
“It’ll be a lot of fun. It’s a gift I’m giving to myself.”
Bloom said the show is 100 percent truthful, drawing on his own experiences as a physician.
“This show is not for patients,” he said. “They shouldn’t know it’s difficult to do this job.”
Bloom decided on the career change to become an oncologist as he watched his own father battle cancer.
“I worked in theater enough to know what it was like to work in theater, but enough to know I didn’t want to do it forever,” said Bloom. “I had turned 30, wasn’t rich and famous, and my father got cancer. I flew back here a lot and went through a lot of clarity and started thinking about life.”
On one of the trips back, Bloom met with the dean of the University of Minnesota medical school to see what it would take for him – the then-30-year-old humanities graduate – to be able to apply to med school. His answer: calculus, chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics. Bloom enrolled in the NYU post-baccalaureate program, finished his classes over a three-year period, and enrolled at the U at 33 years old.
Both Bloom and his wife are Minnesota natives, and he jumped in with both feet. But he was still writing songs while he was doing it.
“It’s how I journal,” he said. “I would do a show per year in med school. One year I did an operetta about residency.
Bloom said that over the last six years, the subject matter of his songs was changing, and suddenly thought: Maybe he had a show.
“What was clear was about how to come to some kind of understanding of what I wanted, what I had, and had I known then what I know now, I still would have done it,” he said. “I go through a lot.”
The show co-stars Eric Ringham as Bloom’s inner voice (“Who knew my inner voice was gentile,” he quipped), and is directed by Peter Moore. Bloom isn’t sure if the run of shows ends on Sept. 8 or will live on in a limited run somewhere else at some other time. But he is grateful for the response that he had received in the buildup to the shows.
“People keep calling and wanting me to add more shows,” he said. “I’m not sure what to make of that. I think we have something and I’m proud of it. The reason I wanted to do something is that I’m around people whose lives are shorter than anticipated. I don’t want to be 70 and have all these songs and never do anything (with them). I feel good about where we are.”