Andrew, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you begin performing?
I grew up outside of Boston and spent my summers on Cape Cod. I went to college at Westminster Choir College where I was a vocal performance major then transferred to The Boston Conservatory where I majored in musical theater.
I'm also on the alumnus of the international group UP WITH PEOPLE®.
My mother told me that before I could walk, I used to pull myself up and hold onto the stereo, “sing”, and move (in time) to the music. I did my first show when I was 5. I played Little Jack Horner in a children’s theatre show. I ended up opening the show by singing an entire song called “Neverland” (not from Peter Pan). I still remember the song!
What was your role in Les Miserables? Was this a role on your “bucket list”? What made this role special for you?
Javert was a role on my “bucket list” I had done the show 2 previous times. I had understudied both Javert and Enjolras. The entire show is special; it’s a show that when I first saw it, while it was on tour, I knew that I’d some day be a part of it. It’s one of the few shows that I could do open-endedly (is that a word?) and never tire of the material or ever “phone it in.” I STILL get emotional just listening to certain parts of the show, especially “One Day More,” which is my favorite Act 1 ending of any show.
It’s a show about the life of the poor, about redemption, about humanity, etc. It continues to touch many people and inspire many singing actors. It’s special to many people. One of the shows that to this day, when auditions are held, there is always a huge turn out.
What did you do to prepare for this role? How was your Javert different than other performers? We know that it was much better than Russell Crowe!
Funny you should mention Russell Crowe. When I was promoting the show, I would say: “Come hear me sing better than Russell Crowe!” Actually, I never saw the movie.
I have seen several two-dimensional performances of Javert. From the first rehearsal, I told the director that he can’t be just two dimensional, that I wanted to show a bit of his humanity. By seeing a bit of his humanity, the audience can better understand him, his background (from where he came), as well his beliefs. The audience needs to feel for him and understand his struggle when he (SPOLIER ALERT!!) jumps off the bridge and kills himself. Javert is NOT the bad guy. He’s following the law and his beliefs.
I was fortunate to learn the show from the International Resident Director of Les Miserables, who, since the 1980s has been with the London and international productions, so I got a lot of “Les Miz” education!
How do you choose your projects? What roles do you prefer to play?
I have a list of shows and roles that I’d love to do. I really try to pick projects that I’m passionate about. But, sometimes you need to do a show for a paycheck and insurance weeks. #thatreactorreality.
I have always played the role where you sing pretty and kiss the girls. In addition to those roles, I find myself drawn to the roles that have the driving ballads. My vocal “wheelhouse” seems to be the Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and other similar music, as well as music by Michael John LaChuisa, Sondheim, and other “legit” composers.
What some don’t know is that I’m actually funny and good with comedy. Playing Trevor Graydon in Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Stoneham Theatre, directed by the INCREDIBLE Ilyse Robbins (Hi Ilyse!) was a career highlight, as well as playing Adolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone at The Company Theatre.
I also play evil . . . very well.
How do you spend your days when you’re not performing? How do you hone your craft between productions?
I’m currently doing a lot of singing and taking a lot of voice lessons. I had always sung tenor. Then, because of my “type,” I started being considered for and getting cast in baritone roles so I had to learn to sing baritone. I’m now getting the “tenor back.”
I have a business in NYC called Step It Up Classes, which are audition classes for actors taught by Broadway casting directors, Broadway Associate/Resident directors, agents etc. I also have an entertainment act that performs at corporate events, parties, and on cruise ships. Currently, I’m writing another show to book on cruise ships and at resorts.
I’m at the gym every day either taking or teaching ZUMBA® dance fitness as well as other classes.
What were some of the differences for you when you became an Equity performer? What should young performers consider when they get their Equity cards and credentials?
I was fortunate to get my Equity card by doing a Broadway show. I didn’t do that much non-union work, but the non-union work I did was quality where I was working with Broadway performers all of which were great learning experiences.
The differences are in salary and benefits.
It’s hard to tell an actor if they should take their union card. It really depends on the person. Actors need to remember that when they take their card, they are now “swimming” in a much bigger talent pool. More people “competing” for fewer jobs. Some people take their card and rarely work. Some work all the time.
What do you wish that you knew a year ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago?
A year ago: That I should have started working again on my tenor voice.
Five years ago: As an actor, you are the CEO of your own business.
Ten years ago: That it’s “Just musical theatre;” chill out, take things one day at a time, one audition at a time, one project at a time!
What do you think is your biggest strength as a performer? What are you continuing to improve upon?
I’m a good business person.
Of what are you afraid when onstage? In daily life?
On stage, I’m pretty fearless. Not so much in auditions (but I’m working on it!)
In daily life, I realized that I have a tendency to “get in my head” and self-sabotage. Just started really working on this. I have an AMAZING hypnotherapist in NYC.
Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?
I always have irons in the fire. Waiting to hear about a couple of projects. Also, I’m working on the music for two of my dream roles in a dream show . . . for which I’ve had a couple of auditions and, for which, I’m keeping a candle lit.
Do you have anything else that you wish to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read all this. GO SUPPORT GOOD THEATRE! Also, thank you, Brian for being so passionate for theatre; it’s amazing that you wear so many theatrical hats!