‘Dreamcoat’ performers offer colorful advice to aspiring musical theater stars!

Camryn Clune with David Rossetti and Christine Cornish Smith from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is currently playing at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

Camryn Clune with David Rossetti and Christine Cornish Smith from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is currently playing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

By Camryn Clune  

Have you wondered what it’s really like in the world of professional theater?

Some of the touring cast members of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat sat down with me at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo to shed some light.

Entering the world of professional musical theater can be quite intimidating. It is not an easy industry to break into, nor is it an easy profession. Cast members David Rossetti and Christine Cornish Smith confirmed that statement.

Their advice for aspiring performers is to stay focused, be smart, and don’t ever give up.

“I got bit,” said David, dance captain and swing for the show. “From then on, I just decided that I was going to go whole hog or go home. That was it. That was my ‘ah-ha’ moment.”

Christine, who plays Reuben’s wife and is in the ensemble, reminisced about the start of her passion for theater.

“I actually wanted to become a ballet dancer,” she said. “It shifted when I got injured, and then that was when I started singing a lot. I always knew I wanted to be in the performing arts. I zoned in, specifically to musical theater, when I was about 17.”

David added, “I was going to be a marine biologist until I was in 10th grade. Then I did a show called The Robber Bridegroom. I got to play this funny character and hear laughter from an audience.”

Musical theater lovers all have their favorite musical or a specific musical that inspired them to go into the field.

Phantom of the Opera,” Christine said. “I remember, I was young, and thought, ‘The lead girl’s name is Christine and my name is Christine so it’s meant to be.’

“Plus I’m a ballerina!” she joked.

For David, it was Jekyll and Hyde.

“I went and saw it on Broadway and it was transformative,” he said. “It was like nothing I had ever seen.”

Most of the performers went to college for musical theater and all would agree that it wasn’t easy juggling their school time with their rehearsal times.

“You would have school all day and be at rehearsal or class from about 4:30 to 10 p.m. every day,” she said. “But, it was exciting! That’s the time to do it — when you are young and have lots of energy.”

When asked what else draws her to theater, Christine explained, “It’s a celebration and it’s bringing people together. It’s community building thing, like a service. I latched on to that feeling of people together, and excitement and joy.”

When asked about the most important aspect of musical theater, David said, “Most importantly, in musical theater, you have to tell the story. You have to get the audience to go through the story with you.”

A lot musical theater performers will tell you, if you are an aspiring performer, then there is NO back-up plan. However, Christine said, “It’s healthy to have other interests.”

She often takes time to work with kids and in fitness while in her down time.

“Yes, you do want to put all your chips in, in a sense, and really go full throttle into whatever you’re doing, because that’s the only way to do it,” she said. “But, you do need to have other interests that you could fall back on. Have a good education and try to really be a well-rounded person for the sake of your art and for the sake of your human sanity!”

David feels that running gives him that outlet.

“You need something that is not as stressful,” he said. “With running, I could set a tangible goal.”

David added, “I wish there was a recipe or making it to Broadway, but there isn’t. In addition, it’s not just on talent. There are so many other factors.”

Christine offered this additional advice to performers: “Remain true to yourself, and your passions, and your wants.”

David expanded: “You have to love it,” he said. “I always thought, ‘If I’m going to do this. I am going to do it. I even did hair, makeup, props, stage managing, and lighting design. If you love theater, go for it. But, also be open to other things in theater that you may like. Everyone wants a little bit of limelight but also be open to other things in theater that you may like because there are other ways to get validation in this art form. For instance be a stage manager, there is nothing like a great stage manager!”

 

Camryn Clune is a freshman in our program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo. She’s also the founder of Backyard Broadway.

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