Friday, June 11, 2010

Advice on Breaking into Broadway - Part 1

Ever dreamt of being on Broadway? Well, dancing is only 1/3 of the skill it takes to be a Broadway star - you must be a triple threat. So, if you are, how do you break into the business? I compiled stories and advice from Broadway stars who were interviewed by Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit Magazine to give you the 411 on your Broadway dreams. There's no better advice than hearing actual success stories!

Hayley Podschun, who plays Tammy in Broadway's Hairspray, says to "to know the show, the character and the style of dancing before the audition, and plan accordingly. “When I auditioned for Hairspray, I went in with teased hair, a blue headband, a polka dot tank top and jazz pants, but when I auditioned for The Phantom of the Opera I wore pink tights, a leotard and I pulled my hair back,” she says. Also, she adds, just be happy to be there, and show excitement no matter what you’re asked to do. To cope with rejection, remind yourself that there will always be another part, another show and another audition. (Dance Spirit, July 2007)

Amy Spanger, who played in Broadway's The Wedding Singer, first got the Broadway bug while studying at the University of Massachusetts (UMass).The summer after her freshman year, Amy auditioned for A Chorus Line at the Theater By the Sea in Portsmouth, NH. The director, who had done this show on Broadway, thought she had "a lot of talent" and "could go to New York." That was all she needed to boost her confidence and pursue her dreams. So, she left UMass, saved money, waited tables, took acting, singing and dance classes, and moved to NYC once she saved up $2,000.

At first, she was terrified and very lonely, but she started scoping out auditions by getting a copy of Back Stage, and attended classes at Broadway Dance Center and Steps. Within a few months, she got her first Off-Broadway job playing Cassie in A Chorus Line with the Yorktown Regional Theater Company. Her first Broadway show was Sunset Boulevard, which she got from a cattle call, a type of audition where you line up with other actors and the directors chose you based solely on appearances. (Dance Spirit, July 2006)

According to, there are three types of performers: an actor, a great actor, and a Broadway actor.
"An actor studies acting, works at learning her skills and craft, practices, rehearses, gains experience and hopes to make a living working at her craft.  
A great actor is one who does the above but has great talent within them and great perseverance in pursuing her training and her art.  Most great actors don't really care that much about earning a living - they are artists and need to act like they need to breathe. And it is that talent, that need, and that dedication to their art that makes them great.
A Broadway actor is one who works on Broadway.  There are very, very few of these.  Broadway is a very small community with very few jobs that thousands of actors want." 

In fact, there are only 39 theaters in New York City that are considered Broadway theaters, and thousands audition for each role. A chance at landing a role is very slim and only the most talented, dedicated and hard-working will make it. So, if you're willing to change your expectations a bit, and be more realistic, there is good news for you. There are are thousands of small, regional theaters around the country at which you can audition and have a much better chance at landing a role. These are the best places to get your start in the biz and will help you get noticed in the theater world. It's just like making it as a ballerina - very few will be soloists with American Ballet Theater, but that doesn't mean you have to give up your dreams of dancing. For some, you'll find just as much fulfillment at smaller companies, where you have better roles and more of them and at least you'll still be doing what you love!

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