From puppeteering to dancing in flippers, Barrett Foa has many special skills

Jul 9, 2020

Barrett Foa

Barrett Foa has portrayed the character of Eric Beale on "NCIS: Los Angeles" since 2009, but acting is just one item on a long list of his skills.

In addition to being a TV star, Foa is also a singer and a dancer who has appeared on Broadway hundreds of times.

He learned how to puppeteer for the roles of Princeton and Rod in "Avenue Q" on Broadway. He was the first member of the cast who was a singer first and later learned to puppeteer, whereas all earlier members of the cast had been puppeteers first. "I was the guinea pig," he explains. Foa says he went to "puppet camp" for a crash course during the audition process. (Scroll down for a video of Foa and his castmates performing a song from "Avenue Q.")

Barrett Foa in a 1995 Interlochen Arts Camp production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Gondoliers"
Credit Interlochen Center for the Arts

Foa also learned how to dance in flippers when he was in the chorus of "Mamma Mia!" "Dancing in flippers is one of my special skills," he says with a laugh. "You can't just start flippering when you hit the stage - you have to be flippering backstage."

When he was a camper at Interlochen in the 1990s, he learned how to sing in an operatic style for the play "Lend Me a Tenor." 

And he knows how to rap, a skill he honed for the show "For the Record: Dear John Hughes."

Foa is continuing to learn and acquire new skills during the pandemic. He's taught himself how to cook. "It's fun, and it gives me a lot of pride," he says.

He's also been learning about social justice, specifically about Black Lives Matter. "I'm seeing a world that I thought wasn't about me," Foa explains. "Now I'm realizing, oh my god, it's so my story. And it's the story of America." 

Barrett Foa (center) with "NCIS: Los Angeles" co-stars LL Cool J (left) and Chris O'Donnell (right)

When asked about his dream role, Foa said simply that the role hasn't been written yet. He'd love to originate a character along the lines of Prior Walter, the lead in Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America." Foa played the role on stage recently. "I didn't think I was fabulous enough or a good enough actor," he says. "Prior is scary, and he's weird and fabulous. I never knew what I was capable of before that opportunity came to me." 

Prospective suitors, take note: Foa is single and ready to meet the right guy. "If you're out there and want to date, give me a call," he says. Or "slide into my DMs" on Instagram

Listen to his entire interview with Classical IPR below. 

Below, see a video of Foa and his "Avenue Q" co-stars performing the song "For Now" in a 2004 MDA telethon.