NEW YORK - While his "NCIS: Los Angeles" cast mates jet off for luxury holidays, Barrett Foa is going back to work.
The guy who plays everyone's favorite techie, Eric Beale, on the long-running crime show has jumped into the one-man stage show "Buyer & Cellar" after 10 months of grueling TV filming.
"This is my vacation," Foa says, looking around the play's home at the Barrow Street Theatre. "It's a huge challenge and nothing like anything I've ever gotten or probably ever will do."
Foa will be playing the struggling actor Alex More, who lands a job as a clerk in an underground mall of quaint shops. It gets weird when he turns out to be the only employee and it gets even weirder when the mall turns out to be part of Barbra Streisand's estate.
More, employed to watch over Streisand's endless amounts of expensive stuff, has a fraught tango with the fictional Babs, eventually teasing out questions about celebrity, materialism and fame.
Foa jumped at the chance to fill his 11 weeks off from solving fictional crimes with Jonathan Tolins' one-man play, even if he says some of his CBS co-stars thought he was nuts.
"LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell both said, 'What are you thinking?' " says Foa, whose Broadway credits include "Avenue Q," "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and "Mamma Mia!" "It's such a crazy challenge and that's how you grow."
Foa is the latest in a line of young, talented actors to play the role. He takes over from Christopher J. Hanke, who, in turn, relieved "Ugly Betty" star Michael Urie, who originated the role and is now on tour with it.
"It talks about celebrity and isolation and connection and loyalty. It's so great and the more I delve into it, the more layers I find. I'm kind of slack-jawed by the whole thing," says Foa.
A native New Yorker who graduated from the University of Michigan, Foa plays a computer wizard on his TV show, which will soon begin its sixth season at a new night and a later time spot. Though he speed types on screen, the actor confesses he's a hunt-and-peck typist in real life.
As for his real-life skills as a computer expert, don't ask: "I own an iPhone. I can browse the Internet. But can I hack into a government agency? Not really," he says, laughing.
The latest role adds to Foa's eclectic career, which has included roles at The Shakespeare Theatre, as a puppeteer on Broadway, in an off-Broadway "Godspell" and on TV with "Entourage" and "Numb3rs."
"Basically my goal in life is to be David Hyde Pierce: go to Hollywood, make some money, come back and just win some Tony Awards. This is part of the whole steppingstone process."