We’ve all worshipped the stars of Broadway at some point, Sutton Foster, Aaron Tveit, Idina Menzel, and for good reason. Some of these people paved the way for what Broadway as a community has change into today. For many of us theater nerds, Wicked was our first experience in the world of musical theater and Broadway and it stills holds a very special place in my heart along with many others. However, while praising the greats is always important, sometimes it causes us to forget about those sometimes less well known actors and actresses who bring something special to a role each time they stand up on stage. Let’s get started!
- Krysta Rodriguez: Most of you have heard of Krysta, whether through Smash or her current Broadway musical First Date. But many people don’t know how much time on stage Krysta has actually contributed. She started her Broadway career in Good Vibrations, which is considered a flop today even though it ran for four months. She then proceeded to work as a swing or understudy in shows like A Chorus Line, Spring Awakening and In The Heights, until she got her lead role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. Krysta has covered multiple roles in her Broadway career and had to be ready at a moment’s notice to possibly play the lead in many shows. I think sometimes we forget how hard it can be to be a swing versus playing a lead role and Krysta should get some more recognition for this!
- Andy Mientus: After portraying the role of Hanschen in the first national tour of Spring Awakening, Andy also made his T.V. debut playing the beloved character of Kyle in Smash. News was recently announced that he will finally be making his Broadway debut in the spring in the Les Mis revival, playing the role of Marius. After doing tours, regional productions, and even some off-Broadway work with Carrie, fans will soon appreciate Andy a lot more because of his skyrocket into Broadway fame. His twitter bio currently says that he’s never been on Broadway but he won a Tony on T.V. Luckily that’s changing soon!
- Karen Olivo: Most of you might know her for playing Anita in the West Side Story revival or Vanessa in In The Heights. She won a Tony for the former role and was recently seen off-Broadway in the hit Murder Ballad. She tells a story flawlessly and has also had her fair share of understudy roles like when she understudied and then replaced Mimi in Rent. The emotion in her voice when she sings shows it all and I’m excited to see what her next project will be and you should be too!
- Taylor Trensch: Taylor made his Broadway debut in Wicked a couple years back playing the role of Boq, but is also pretty well known for playing Moritz in the first national tour of Spring Awakening, his recent portrayal of Peter in Bare off-Broadway, and his current Broadway venture playing the comical character of Michael Wormwood in Matilda the Musical. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Taylor after seeing Matilda on my trip to New York and I can say that he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He takes time to learn your name, where you’re from, and have a good conversation with you. He’s stated before that his dream role is Richard the III in Richard the III so hopefully down the line he’ll get to portray that role. If you haven’t heard of him watch some of his videos from singing at various events throughout the city, his voice and his emotional connection will make you want to watch out for his next lead role just like me.
Those are just some Broadway actors I really appreciate. Broadway actors in general work very hard at their job and I think if we take some time to realize how much hard work, dedication, and passion goes into their jobs everyday we can appreciate Broadway as a community more!
Photo via Broadway.com
Thanksgiving morning, many prepare for the day’s festivities with last minute cooking and cleaning. For me and many others across the nation, the morning also brings telecasts of the Macy’s Thaanksgiving Day Parade. While the parade is en-route to Herald Square, viewers have the opportunity to catch performance numbers from some of the hottest Broadway shows. Missed these parade performances? I got you covered.
On NBC, the theme seemed to be medley as each show showcased multiple numbers in their short air-time. The first musical to perform was Motown the Musical, showcasing a medley of “Get Ready” and “Dancing in the Street,” the last song taken quite literally as the cast braved the cold temperatures to show off their Astaire Award-winning choreography. Next up was a performance from Matilda the Musical with song selections “Revolting Children” and “When I Grow Up.” While the number was similar to the Tony Awards telecast, we got to see some new faces take on this medley – Milly Shapiro had the beginning solo (later joined by the other girls), Jill Paice brought a new voice to Miss. Honey, and a number of new “maggots” helped to make the performance shine. Kinky Boots strutted down next on the Macy’s star with the finale number “Raise You Up/Just Be.” The fierce cast showed off their fabulous footwear, excellent vocals, and the universal message of acceptance. Pippin performed next with a medley of “Corner of the Sky” and “Magic To Do.” Matthew James Thomas began his number in the Herald Square crowd while Patina Miller and the rest of the cast brought their magic to the streets. Even having to adjust outside, the circustry was still alive and awe-inspiring. The final “show” performance was from The Sound of Music Live!, airing on NBC on December 5th. Carrie Underwood joined hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie to not only discuss the event, but also to introduce Michael Campayno and Ariane Rinehart as they performed “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” I thought the performance was beautiful and only added to the anticipation for the event. We were also treated to other stage stars including Kristin Chenoweth performing “New York, New York,” Tituss Burgess with Beverley Staunton performing “One Song,” and Megan Hilty performing “Merry Christmas Darling.”
Meanwhile on CBS, viewers got performances from another three shows! What makes these performances different from others is that they are pre-taped in their home theaters. Actors luckily don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures and are better able to adapt to the camera. First up: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with “Impossible/It’s Possible” featuring Laura Osnes and Rebecca Luker. I was very excited to see Ms. Luker in the number, as she is only in the show while Victoria Clark appears in The Snow Geese. Next up was First Date with “The One” and “Something That Will Last.” These two numbers are the borders of the show and gave each cast member a chance to shine. Stars Krysta Rodriguez and Zachary Levi were fantastic and the crowd really seemed to enjoy their performance. The final show to perform was A Night with Janis Joplin with “Me and Bobby McGee.” Mary Bridget Davies channeled Joplin and knocked the song out of the park. Additionally, Jonathan Groff popped in to add commentary and excitement for the parade. He discussed why he’s proud of his work with Frozen and Glee.
One of the best parts of the Thanksgiving Parade is how much attention is given to Broadway. The performers get to showcase their talent to a national audience as they enjoy an American tradition now eighty seven years running.
Photo via RogerCaitlin.com
When you think of musical theater or even theater in general what’s the first thing that pops into your head? If you ask a random person on the street most likely they’re answer will include “jazz hands” or “a cheesy plot line with big smiles.” But if that random kid happened to be a theater kid, you would get an answer that would include how theater has shaped or changed their life in some way or another. Why is that? Why does theater affect so few of us in such a monumental way, but to the rest of the population it’s a useless form of entertainment?
I’ll tell you why. I may be biased, being a self-proclaimed theater geek, but theater has changed my life in a way that I thought no person, thing or idea ever could. Theater is not only an art form or a way to make friends or an ice-breaker. Theater is the gateway to a new form of expression. Theater can be used to impact and affect people’s lives.
The reason why so many theater nerds claim that this “thing” is the most important aspect of their life is because it can change people. It can change ideas. It can impact the world we live in. Think of popular works of theater that have graced the Broadway stages in the past few years. Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, Bare, all seen as very sad and angst-ridden musicals. Yet these pieces of art have been used to change the social norm. They’ve been used as a form of sex education, or to educate audiences on what living with a mental illness is really like, or even why being yourself and loving who you love is okay. These few pieces of theater are just samples of productions past, present, and future that have affected social issues.
The reason the average person sees theater as a waste of time is because they don’t understand what theater can accomplish. By taking passionate people who love what they’re doing and giving them a story that has been injected with feeling and love and letting them create new characters and new settings and a world of their own you can change lives.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that maybe theater nerds aren’t really theater nerds. Maybe we’ve already tapped into something that more people should experience. These stories affect us so greatly and bring us to tears or to unstoppable laughter because they’re delivering messages that so many public leaders are trying to, in a much more accessible way. We fall in love with characters and relationships and places as soon as the lights go down.
So why don’t more people use the theater as a way to make change? It’s been done before and it continues to be done by new writers, composers, and actors. Theater is a living, breathing organism and maybe if we utilized it more, the social issues we have today wouldn’t be so much a problem, but instead the opportunity to search for a new solution.
Happy December! With the snowy days on their way, we couldn’t wait to start celebrating the holiday season. So, Camp Broadway is bringing you our first-ever Holiday Gift Guide! Subscribe to our mailing list ASAP for our exclusive gift guide, featuring Broadway books, our favorite shows of the season, mail order treats and more. Plus, we have giveaways and special holiday discount offers exclusive to CB friends and families! Here’s how it’ll work:
For each of the first ten weekdays of this December, subscribers to Camp Broadway’s email mailing list will receive an exclusive email straight to their inbox with a specially selected gift idea for the theater-lovers in your life! Plus, thanks to our partners and friends, each day means a new giveaway or special offer, only available to our email subscribers! It’s the perfect way to wrap up your holiday shopping.
And, don’t forget, CB programs from Camp Broadway Dance (for teen dancers looking to expand their talents) to Shining Stars (our summer program for budding theater-lovers) and all of those in between are on sale now! “Develop Your Character” with us and enroll in a Camp Broadway program today! (Need something to wrap up under the tree? Give us a call at 212-575-2929 ext 1– we have t-shirts and more!)
Photo via Backstage.com
Turkey Day is upon us, which means it’s time to get very sentimental, stare at giant balloons of Elmo and Snoopy for four hours, and stuff ourselves to the point of pain with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
I can’t wait.
But, Thanksgiving is also a time where we like to think about the things in our lives we’re thankful for. You know… like Schmackary’s! And when it comes to Broadway, there’s a lot that we shouldn’t take for granted. So here we go: It’s the Broadway edition of that “What I’m Thankful For” game that’s as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as making turkey pictures by tracing your hand:
I’m thankful for Stephen Sondheim. Obviously. They should name a Schmackary’s cookie after him.
I’m thankful for the swings on Broadway, helping to keep eight shows a week possible despite injuries, sickness, vacations, etc. Talk about a stressful job.
I’m thankful for overtures. Other than a cookie from Schmackary’s, is there really anything better than a good, rousing overture? No. No, there’s not.
I’m thankful for the ushers. It doesn’t matter how many times I go to the theater. It is still physically impossible for me to remember which side of the house has odd seat numbers, and which has even. Without them, I’d probably just give up all hope of finding my seat and end up going to Schmackary’s.
I’m thankful for Lindsay Mendez. Why? Because, when does she not give a performance that is so incomprehensibly fantastic that it causes half of the audience to go into cardiac arrest? That’s right. Basically never.
I’m thankful for the people that spend hours chatting on Broadway World. Why? Nothing lifts my spirits more than people who can argue for hours on end over what constitutes a “guilty pleasure” show. Every Broadway fan feels at home here.
Note from the Editor: And we’re thankful for all of you! Our readers, blog writers, CB program participants, loyal families and supportive parents and guardians! Thank you for another great year of allowing us to help theater-loving kids Develop Their Character.
Name your favorite cartoon character. Now your favorite Muppet. Easy to do, right? But, name a few people who breathe life into those characters—not so easy anymore, is it? Voice acting is an art in itself that few people understand, and even fewer do. There are a few differences between acting with your voice, and acting with your entire being. For one, you are not seen. The character you are bringing to life is though, and depending on how good you are depends on how memorable your character is, and sometimes how memorable you become as well (Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny for instance). As a result of this, your voice has to do all the expression that maybe your face or body would be doing. If you watch someone like John Goodman (James Sullivan in Monsters Inc) record for his character, you’ll watch him do extreme things with his body and face to make his voice bigger or smaller, depending on what’s called for. Some voice actors need to even change their voice to adapt to a different accent, or voice range for their character (such as Hank Azaria when he plays Apu in The Simpsons). Due to all of this, it’s very hard to get into voice acting and you almost have to know someone who’s already doing it just to get in at the ground level. And, voice acting is different than doing voice overs, which are heard in commercials and rarely call for the actor to do anything extreme to their voice except for clear annunciation. Acting where you can be seen is a bit easier (not that acting is easy, please don’t think I’m saying that). Acting is a different craft, and a different art form all together, and for the most part, if you put a seasoned voice actor onstage they probably wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Voice acting is a special craft, unlike just acting in front of an audience, they need to make their whole bodies come through their voice in order to bring life to characters. While onstage, the actor needs to breathe life into a character on a page, the voice actor needs to make the audience believe and invest in a cartoon, puppet, or graphic onscreen. Who’s your favorite voice actor? Your favorite cartoon character?
One of the major deciding factors when choosing a college right for you is what you want to major in and what the school offers in that department. Some theatre kids have a dream of continuing their training in the theatrical arts in college, whether it is performance, production, administration, etc. Some have parents and families who fully support them to follow their dreams, which is fantastic. Others, however, have parents who won’t allow them to be a theatre major for one reason or another – I was one of those. So, what do you do?
I intended to have a college major in mathematics education in college, since I wasn’t allowed to major in drama; however, I made sure I kept the theatre bug alive during my college experience. The first way I did so was by making sure I choose a college with a thriving theatre department. It allowed me to participate in organizations open to the entire university, such as student-run clubs in drama, musical theatre, improvisation, and USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology). The biannual productions allowed me to audition without department conflicts. Additionally, I made a great amount of friends by being surrounded by students with the same interests; I loved attending the various shows on-campus and watching their work come to life. Students often receive free admission to campus events, so I took full advantage of that opportunity and convinced friends to do the same (in college, you learn to take advantage of anything and everything that’s free).
One of the ways I was still able to study in the drama department was by declaring a minor. With doing so, I only had about a third of the requirements compared to a major, but was still able to participate in department courses. I was able to connect with the faculty and benefit from having the department contacts. As my major changed to liberal arts, one of my three required concentrations was drama. The credit requirements were the same as the minor, so I further continued my studies. Some of my university requirements crossed over with my drama requirements, which was a way to get mandatory courses out of the way while making it work to my interest. For example, an introductory acting course was able to work for both my minor/concentration and as a creative participation university requirement.
Since my campus was only a train away from New York City, I took advantage of weekend opportunities to student rush and see Broadway shows. Friends who attend college near cities across the country do the same for regional and touring productions. Being a part of the social media movement kept me up-to-date with all the various news and events happening in the theatre world. Even though you may not be allowed to study theatre in school, theatre kids have an array of options to keep the bug alive during their time at college.
Theatre has always been said to be a living, breathing creature, and those lucky enough are paid to share their craft with the world. In college, though, not only is it a living, breathing creature-but it also doesn’t sleep. Especially if you and all of your friends are studying together.
When I was in school, my roommate was a voice major, and I was a theater major. There were always showtunes coming out of our room at all hours of the night (we apologized to our R.A. more than once!). If I wasn’t belting my face off in our room (or as we used it-a rehearsal space), we were all auditioning for the same shows, reading the same librettos or plays, and taking the same classes.
College theater is very different than community and sometimes even professional theater. The bond you form with your classmates and cast mates is a bond that really can’t be broken. The difference here is that you do everything together. It becomes a community in a community. I would get up, go to a required class that I would barely pay attention in, then get to rehearsal and be with my friends, or go grab something to eat-even skip class to go jump on the bus to the city and see a show!
College is such an adventure, and being in a college theater department just makes the experience all the richer. You learn from each other, cry with each other, laugh, and grow together while working on your craft.
If I wasn’t singing in my room, or at rehearsal, my friends and I were preparing for auditions. Listening to and helping each other with monologues and songs, giving feedback, and playing improve games. The dorm became a safe, creative space where theater and writing came together and lived every second.
Also, take this time to discover who you are. Who you are, as an actor and as a person. The theater program in college is a perfect atmosphere to discover, explore and make mistakes. Take that opportunity and run with it!
If you’re lucky enough to get into a college theater program (even if its just a program and its not necessarily a performing arts college), you will be welcome with open arms, and before you know it that group of strangers will be your family for life.
Broadway gives so many young artists the opportunity to continue their craft and make a name for themselves in the theater capital of the world. Broadway also provides a wide variety of fantastic entertainment that attracts tourists from all over to visit New York City. On top of all of that, the Broadway community finds time to give back to the community and support charities across the country. Today I thought I would share the amazing work the theater community does through Broadway-based organizations.
In 1993, Broadway Cares and Equity Fights Aids joined together to form Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids (BC/EFA) supporting the Actor’s Fund of America and the National Grants Program. This fundraising effort started in the ’80s during the AIDS Crisis, which affected a large majority of the Broadway community. La Cage Aux Folles and many other shows banded together to raise money for research to fight AIDS and HIV-related illnesses.
Two major fundraisers each year are the Gypsy of the Year competition in the Fall and the Easter Bonnet competition in the Spring. Broadway shows spend six week prior to these competitions raising money by auctioning off onstage roles, backstage tours and other props from the show for numerous nights. They also have actors with buckets in the lobby after the show to collect money from patrons. If you ever hear about this going on from the cast at curtain call, definitely dig up a few dollars before you get to the door. Sometimes the cast will even let you take pictures with them in costume!
Other fundraisers include the Broadway Bares burlesque-style show, involving many ensemble and chorus members from numerous Broadway shows. Also, the Broadway Bears auction, where each participating Broadway show or Off-Broadway show dresses a teddy bear in the style of their show. Of course, everyone also knows about the Shubert Alley Broadway Cares Annual Flea Market each Fall.
So whether you attend these fundraising events and shows, or shell out some spare change in the red buckets at a touring show, every little bit helps! Giving back not only makes you feel good about yourself, but also gives you a better sense of comaradery within the theater community. I hope this article gives you something to think about in the upcoming season of giving.
This December, the family-friendly classic musical (and Hillary’s all-time favorite) The Sound of Music will be broadcast live on NBC. Our Camp Broadway staff members and blog writers are extremely excited, so here are 5 reasons why you should watch The Sound of Music this holiday season!
1. It’s LIVE!
No pre-recording, this show will be happening live for one night only, as you would experience on the Broadway stage. The last time musicals were broadcasted live on television was in the 1950s, so it’s great that NBC is bringing back musicals on such a major network after five decades! Let’s hope The Sound of Music leads to more live broadcasts in the future to bring this entertainment back to the small screen!
2. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood is staring as Maria von Trapp in her first musical! This country music superstar has grown over the years from American Idol and is now taking on Broadway. With a powerful voice and natural charm, she is perfect for the role; hopefully Carrie will be in NYC on stage some day?
3. Something for True Blood fans
Fans of the HBO vampire series True Blood will be excited to see Stephen Moyer as Captain von Trapp. No matter if they double as musical theater fans or not, his acting talent will sure translate to Sound of Music. He was recently in the Hollywood Bowl production of Chicago over the summer as Billy Finn, so he is no stranger to the stage. Now it’s time for Stephen to take a bite out of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.
4. Broadway Superstars
If you are a Broadway fanatic like myself, this cast will make you sing from the mountain tops! Five time Tony winner Audra McDonald will dub the nun garb as Mother Abbess. Plus NBC and Broadway alums Laura Benanti (Playboy Club, Go On) and Christian Borle (Smash) will star as Elsa Schrader and Max Detweiler, respectively. With Tony’s galore and plenty of television experience, they round out an already all-star cast. The Sound of Music will definitely relieve any Smash withdrawals.
5. The Sound of Music is a classic
Written in the Golden Age of Musicals, legendary composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein spun gold with this musical. The original 1959 production with Mary Martin had a hit cast album that was number one on the charts for 16 weeks straight. The film starring Julie Andrews won five Oscars including Best Picture. Plus you’ll recognize many unforgettable songs like “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things.”
The Sound of Music is live on Thursday, December 5th at 8/7c on NBC. Don’t miss this spectacular event and one of Camp Broadway’s favorite things!