Maggie McDowell: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

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Maggie and I met at Belmont University when she was a Senior and I was Freshman! I have always looked up to her and was thrilled when she agreed to chat over coffee. She brought her perfect baby, Thomas to share in the cool vibes at Up Heights. This is one of the most underrated cafes uptown! It was cozy and cool with a grafitti wall, painted library bookshelf, and options of gelato, specialized coffee drinks, or pastries. Over baby cuddles and iced coffee we talk how Maggie got her Equity card, path to her Broadway debut, why she’s a true believer in open calls, and what it’s like now balancing a baby and a side-business! 

Drink of choice: Iced Coffee


AF: We have Maggie AND Thomas on the blog!

MM: Thomas just woke up for the interview!

AF: We are both drinking iced coffees… but Maggie- what is your usual drink of choice?

MM: Iced coffee, girl. With a baby you need caffeine quickly and it takes too long to drink coffee for me. I guess I’m just a wimp but I need it to be a lot cooler…or else… I just can’t.

AF: Also holding a baby on you…

MM: Yes, if you’re drinking over them, you don’t want to have to worry about spilling scalding hot coffee! Iced coffee is my go-to. Even in the dead of winter… it’s fast and it’s good. You need a lot of caffeine when you have a baby!

AF: I’m glad you can drink it now!

MM: Oh yes. Me too.

AF: So I always ask… what is your back-story? I mean…I know…but other people don’t!

MM: I grew up in CT in the Hartford area and I grew up singing in choir and doing the church musicals. My mom is from Georgia and my dad’s from Seattle so Connecticut was kind of like a random place for us. So, because of that I wanted to get out New England for college especially since I knew I wanted to end up in New York City. I wanted to give myself a chance to explore another part of the country. My sister went to Vanderbilt so I had heard about Belmont in Nashville. I studied Musical Theatre with Annabelle there! Yeah- I loved their program, I loved that city… it was the best of both worlds. I loved that we had a full college experience with a campus and all that but we were also in a city. When I moved to New York I felt like I’d had the full college experience whereas if I’d gone to college in the city I think I may have been distracted…. being pulled in all sorts of different directions… so it was a really great fit for me! And then I moved to New York after graduation and I’ve been here ever since!

AF: And now she has a perfect baby!

MM: I do! I met my husband in college. He was not a Musical Theatre major… he was in Music Business.

AF: But always fully supportive of it. He’s like a Musical Theatre nerd on the inside!

MM: His sister did theatre in high school so I think that prepped him for being around crazy theatre people. I remember one the first times we hung out was at a Musical Theatre party that I threw for our friend, Andrea, and I think what I was so impressed by was how comfortable he was in that crowd. I didn’t have to babysit him and I thought he was just so independent! He’s always so comfortable at cast parties and opening nights even though he’s not in the biz! He did some internships in the city with Jimmy Fallon, moved to New York, and has been working with the same ad agency as a music supervisor ever since, so he’s killin’ it!

AF: I didn’t realize that!

MM: He really holds down the fort.

AF: And we’re neighbors! So what did your first couple of years look like in the city? What was that path like for you?

MM: I moved here when I was Non-Eq…

AF: And how was that?

MM: I don’t think I even really knew what was happening. I just knew you get up really early in the morning and sit outside in the cold… and I did that. I woke up early and I pounded the pavement. My first year in the city I booked two shows at Equity houses as a Non-Equity performer. One was Legally Blonde at Fireside Playhouse and I booked Doralee in Nine to Five at Theatre by the Sea. Those were amazing and led me to a couple more Equity contracts and I got my card doing the role of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. That director introduced me to my agents. So when I got back from that contract it was the summertime so I just went to a ton of EPA’s to figure out what that was like. It was exciting to finally get seen and be able to build on relationships with casting directors. Even though must calls were required it was great to get in that room… It was a good time to get in the groove and see what it was like to have my card! The end of that summer I went to an EPA for a show I’d never heard of. And I read on the ‘in the room’ page that Seth Rudetsky was the accompanist. I sang a song that I pulled out of nowhere…. It was “Baracuda by Heart” I had this random book of music from college that of sheet music that I had printed on random occasions and I knew I needed a song from the 1970’s so I flipped through only looking at the bottom of every page at the copywright dates and saw 1979. Stephen plunked it out on his guitar and then the first time I sang it was in the audition… I just remember after I sang Seth said ‘nice belt!’ And I literally looked down to see if I was wearing a belt…

AF: Haha- does he remember that?

MM: Haha probably not! But anyways… I got cast in an Off-Broadway production of Disaster! I was cast in the ensemble. During the end of the run they bumped me up to the role of Marianne, which was such a blast.

AF: And how long was that run?

MM: We ran November to April… it was amazing. Then I did some regional theatre that summer and kept on hitting the EPA’s, getting some appointments…but I’ve always believed in the open calls. That’s how I was first seen for Kinky Boots.

AF: You are a walking testament that EPA’s matter. I think a lot of people believe nobody is really there looking…

MM: You just never know! I’ve gone to a ton of required calls but to me it’s about building the relationships, getting in front of people, obviously going to things you’re right for… but I feel when those opportunities did come about… it was because I’d done the leg work. I’d auditioned for Kinky Boots a lot but tried not to give up hope so I decided it wasn’t a matter of if but a matter of when. I went in for another project that this casting director was casting… and I got a callback for that and then over the weekend a role opened up in Kinky Boots on tour… and because I’d been in callbacks for that so much in the past… the direct offer for a role came on a Monday after auditioning for something else! I guess I was fresh in their minds and things just worked out. And then Disaster! came back around and I got to make my Broadway debut in a show that I just LOVED. It’s totally my sense of humor. It’s so silly and has amazing music… and so yeah… that’s been my path! New York has been good to me so far. I feel like it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there.

AF: So how does the city feel now with a baby, navigating auditions… where do you see yourself in ten years?

MM: So- obviously the baby’s still really young but I have started going to some auditions! A friend of ours is helping out in the mornings, and I’m going to some EPA’s and ECC’s but it doesn’t feel much different than after being gone on tour or something. Except you have to pay for childcare-ha! There are some new faces in casting since before I was pregnant and so, I feel like it’s helpful for me to go in and meet these people and build these relationships so when I get submitted they know who I am.

AF: We’re so distracted by Thomas right now. He’s so happy and so good!

MM: He’s so amazingly fat.

AF: He’s the most adorable little fatty blob!

MM: I just stare at him all day… he’s just the sweetest.

AF: You made a beautiful, perfect, luscious baby. So as you were saying… you’re working on reestablishing yourself…getting back in the room…

MM: It gives me a chance to revisit my book, and reminds me what I do… in the audition room… and by putting that into practice so when I do get appointments I won’t go in super “cold.” It’s the way that I’ve booked work in the past… and it does take a little bit of extra effort… but I’m already up early in the morning with Thomas! What’s great is when I’m downtown auditioning I’ll book practice rooms and there’s something really therapeutic about singing above lullaby volume. It’s like….”oh this is what I do.” You’re either too busy pounding the pavement, walking the dog, making sure the baby is fed that you forget, “I’m a performer and I sing and I need this.” That practice time is like my own therapy session. I have no idea what will be next but I feel like since Stephen and I moved to the city we’ve kind of been making it up as we go…

AF: And I have to commend you both! We’re all trying to figure it out but you guys set such a good example of partnership, putting each other and your family first, and it’s really encouraging to see how you’re making it work in such a healthy way!

MM: Thank you! We talk a lot about being a team first and foremost… none of what we do is easy and living in the city is not easy. All of my success is thanks to him. I can’t tell you how many times when I first moved here, my alarm would go off at 5:30 am and I wouldn’t want to go and he held me accountable. It’s important to him because it’s important to me. He’s been a constant encouragement and cheerleader to keep me accountable to keep trying. I’ve had plenty of rejection and it’s easy to want to give up when you’re down to the final two and don’t book… but at the end of the day because we have each other none of that all seems too bad.

AF: You help each other maintain the healthy perspective.

MM: Yes… and I feel because there’s so much rejection and because everything’s so unpredictable… you have to have a life outside of performing! It doesn’t have to be being married with a baby… that ended up being my path. But it could be investing in important friendships, or having a side business, or teaching, or a hobby that fulfills you…something that fuels you other than performing because what we do is so unpredictable and there’s so much rejection involved that if that’s your end all be all… that’s going to be pretty hard to stay positive. You need other things in your life that bring you joy and that you can focus on! Also on the flipside, that way when you get in the room you’re also bringing in those varied life experiences…. you are a well rounded human! One of my first auditions back was portraying a woman in labor and it was like ‘wow I’ve got so much sense memory for this!’ Living life outside of the bubble of performing keeps me sane.

 AF: So now tell us how you got started with Rodan and Fields!

MM: It’s been so great! It came to me as our family was growing and I was exploring ways I could work from home. My ‘survival job’ while I’m auditioning was always working in childcare/babysitting…and now I’m a full time babysitter aka MOM! If I ever do spend time away from him I didn’t want to spend it bartending or in retail, I want it to be at auditions or booking my next job. So, a girlfriend of mine who’s in Nashville, has a toddler, and is running her business from home, and I just loved the flexibility. I also just wanted to treat myself as a new mom with amazing skincare products that work. So, when I found out I could have both… it was a no brainer. Since its virtual with no inventory, I can do it from wherever so, its been a great side hustle. Performance jobs are unpredictable and so, ya gotta pay for diapers somehow!

AF: That’s so great. I need that Lash-Boost!

MM: Well I have a girlfriend who doesn’t even wear fake lashes in her Broadway show because her lashes are so long from the serum. It’s good to feel confident in your skin whether you’re a performer or not. So I’m wearing a lot of hats these days! Mom, Actress and new business owner!

AF: So what would you say your words of wisdom would be to someone who’s an aspiring artist, mom… what are words that resonate a lot with you lately?

MM: Well something that mom has always told me is, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I’ve always loved that. She’s always told me if you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t know if it’s for you or not. If you don’t ‘venture’ you’ll never ‘gain’ anything. There have been a lot of things I didn’t think I was right for and I ended up booking because it’s just not up to us!

 AF: What role??

 MM: I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know much about the classic Annie Oakley… and somebody else saw that for me. I almost said no to the audition because I didn’t see it for myself. And in terms of having a family… there’s never the “right” timing for that, especially as a performer, but we ventured and took the leap and it ended up being the perfect timing. I had no idea what the insane joy this would bring to us. We’ve gained so much. At the end of the day, having a family was really important to us and the rest of the performing stuff will fall into place. I didn’t know what that was going to look like and I still don’t know what it will happen. I just know I didn’t want to wait until my career was in the “perfect spot” cause I don’t think you’ll ever know.

 AF: Thomas, any last words?

MM: Haha- he agrees, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

AF: You are doing it. You are paving the way!

MM: It’s a juggling act! But he always comes first and we continue to just make it up as we go! I knew that I always wanted to be a performer but I also always wanted to be a mom. If something is important to you and you work hard it will always work out. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

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Allison Maldonado: If you’re not happy where you are, remove yourself.

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I met Allison at the famous, McNulty’s, to get a whiff of their vintage shop and strong coffee beans and then we headed to Prodigy Coffee for an iced cappuccino and mocha. There we picked a window seat in the sun and talked about her move from California to NYC, early love of “On the Town,” the joining of fashion and theatre, and her high hopes for her vintage reality show!

*Drink of choice: Mocha with coconut milk


AF: What are you drinking right now?

AM: I am drinking my afternoon pick me up, Mocha with coconut milk. I am a very big coffee drinker so I love this whole entire idea! I have on average two a day. When things are really busy in my life… I’ll do three a day! In the morning I always drink one of the Starbucks bottles… the medium roast. I have it iced at all times of the year and depending on what time of day it is my second drink will most likely always be a mocha or nitro cold brew. I’ve never been here before…but this is a pretty damn good mocha!

AF: So tell us where you’re from and what brought you to the city?

AM: I’m originally from San Diego, California. I moved when I was eighteen. People think I’m kind of crazy for moving from such a paradisial place to a city where we currently have the remains of a blizzard on the ground. I was never a big beach bunny… the goal was always to move to the East Coast. When I was three or four I saw On the Town on the TV at my grandma’s house. I saw Gene Kelly and Vira Ellen all singing and dancing, looking amazing, in this place called New York and it really stuck with me. And in my mind I thought, “I want to do that, and wear beautiful dresses, and sing and dance!” That idea always stayed and it still has stayed and in October I will hit my ten years of being in the city!

AF: Congratulations! Cheers to ten years!

AM: I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on this decade coming up and on one hand it feels like that’s not a reality but then I think about all the relationships, friend groups, different jobs, different gigs and it’s like…oh yes it HAS been ten years.

AF: After ten years they say you’re a New Yorker!

AM: I definitely feel that way. I definitely was really lucky. I came here for school… I went to AMDA, and came into a community of people who were into the exact same things I was!

AF: Were you auditioning while you were in school?

AM: No AMDA has a policy where they don’t allow their students to audition until their fourth semester. The fourth semester all your classes are at nighttime… so you are able to. To be honest… I booked work out of school and I booked work with a lot of the teachers that I had at AMDA but it was weird because I went to school from eighteen to twenty so when I got out and I just wanted to enjoy the city a little more! I didn’t really start booking work until I was twenty-two.

AF: So you’re first thing came when you were twenty-two…

AM: I did quite a few Off-Broadway shows! I did three with Musicals Tonight! The person who used to direct all of them was an AMDA person and so I got really lucky and was basically given a role out of school and then on top of that I got to know them and would go in to their auditions so I did three with them from 2010-2012. At twenty-two I was really interested in doing some regional contracts… I wanted to leave the city and see what that was like! I did Damn Yankees in Florida and I did a really long contract of Grease in Reno, Nevada that year. Reno was probably where I learned I truly loved coffee.

AF: Is that near Las Vegas?

AM: It’s not but lots of people think that it is! I met two of my best friends on that contract and one of those friends, Dan said that he was telling all his friends he was performing in Vegas because nobody knew what Reno was! It’s quote on quote “the biggest little city on Earth.” It’s six hours north of Vegas and parallel to San Fran. It’s a weird but also very charming town. It was bizarre to do a contract for so long there… we got to know people in the neighborhood! Half of the people are unemployed and have no teeth and live at the casinos and the other half are super young and into Burning man and into medicinal healing…so long story short I started to get out of the city more and more! I did three years of the national tour of A Christmas Story. I got to play a ton of ensemble characters! It was really sentimental because we were away from our families over the holidays but with these new friends… who were becoming our families! For three years it was mostly the same people! But whenever I have been in between gigs I’ve always worked in the fashion industry. A lot of people tend to work in the food service industry… but I was like if I’m going to be in NYC and enjoy my time here… I’m going to do something that I love. So I’ve been very lucky where I come into environments and they respect my schedule. I worked on and off for Kate Spade, was a Manager for their men’s location, Jack Spade, James Purse, which is a California brand, and then I’ve interned at Theory as a visual person, and now I work for a company called Shinola, predominantly known for their watches. They have a very distinct, retro look. They’ve had a huge hand in contributing to the renaissance of Detroit. I was there for Christmas Story a couple years ago and it was crazy to see how much the company has helped the city come back to life! They have a factory there…they employed a lot of people after the auto industry started to fail there…and now they’re making watches! It’s been cool having my hand in both jars… doing everything that I love all in one.

AF: So when was Vintage Voyageur born?

AM: So 2016 was a pretty rough year. It was a good year and a rough year for many reasons. It was a big year of growth. I ended a long-term relationship that was very hard but I needed to let it go. I worked a lot that year. I did a Mary Poppins in Lancaster that summer and then I was going back in the winter for Christmas Story and in between the gigs I had two months. When I did Mary Poppins I had my own room…so I had a lot of free time and time to myself to think about what I wanted to do. I had had the idea to do a reality show about Vintage shopping for about two years prior…but of course all the demons in my head were telling me nobody wanted it and nobody would fund me…

AF: It’s crazy that we have to fight those voices every day.

AM: Every single day. You’re always going to be told that you can’t. But anyways… I all of a sudden found myself out of the Mary Poppins contract, I was unemployed, I had quite a bit of free time, and savings saved up and thought, “I’m going to do this.” I wanted to create something that makes people feel good and laugh…because this was when we were going into that political climate. It was August and I called up a really good friend of mine who’s now in Mean Girls on Broadway, Nikhil Saboo. He’s super into videography and I told him about my idea and asked if he wanted to help and he said, “Absolutely.” So it was all just very serendipitous because over the course of two months he was also between gigs. I started to cold call a ton of Vintage stores saying, “So I have this idea…for a new show that I’m going to put on YouTube and it’s a reality show where I visit Vintage stores and I teach people how to wear Vintage clothing…” That was my pitch and to my delight they were all on board! Nobody has done it… and what’s crazy now two years later there’s still not a show like it! When I was starting to brainstorm the idea and name (I obviously like alliterations) and starting to do research it was crazy to realize nothing like it already existed! So Nikhil and I taped seven episodes in the course of a month and I started to release episodes as it was going along. It’s just continued to grow from there. The day that I released the trailer for it, I remember it got over two-thousand views in the course of twenty-four hours… in 2016… which is a different technological climate than we are in now…

AF: YouTube was big then now it’s Instagram, right?

AM: Exactly! So it was very clear in the first couple of hours in releasing everything that people wanted to see something like this… and sure enough now, two years later, the show has had a lot of wonderful success. It’s moved from YouTube to Amazon Prime. I’m on their independent filmmaker website, so that’s an amazing thing to be a part of! It was nominated for the Best Unscripted Series in the New York Web Fest and it was up for a ton of awards in an Online Festival last year at this time. I’ve been able to walk in a Vintage Fashion show during New York Fashion Week because of it, which was maybe the coolest thing ever to come out of this! It’s been this amazing way of combining all my favorite worlds into one. The bigger motive was always, “What can I make that is fully mine?” because as performers we’re on somebody else’s time and I wanted to create something that was fully my own. The cool thing about it too was after the first season, I was going back on tour for the third time on Christmas Story and I thought well, I can still do the show on the road and I had people in my cast help me, and I came back to the city to film a couple episodes and it kind of took on a life of its own. This was after the election and so it was a very different world all of a sudden. Everyone was upset but everyone was also really reaching out, offering their stores as safe-havens where people could write letters to their senators, people were holding Yoga classes to become centered; there was so much more of a sense of a community in the second season so it organically became more about the importance of shopping small business, how small business can change the community that you’re in, and the importance of shopping sustainable because we have an administration that doesn’t believe in climate change…

AF: Hello- literally extreme climate shifts are happening…

AM: People don’t realize that the fashion industry is second biggest polluter in the world next to oil. It’s unbelievable the amount of dye that’s dumped into the ocean and the scraps of fabric that are put in landfills. Everything goes back to “fast fashion” and the harm that H&M, Zara, Top Shop are causing on the environment… I’m very happy that my show has opened up awareness to shopping Vintage, get something that’s made really well, pay the same or a little more for it, know it will last, and I’m not contributing to the “fast fashion” world.

AF: I love second-hand stores.

AM: Everything I’m wearing is second-hand!

AF: It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

AM: If it’s made well, let it continue having a life! Give it away, consign it, give it to any Vintage store! Of course all of us have gone to Buffalo Exchange… and we’ve thought it’s so nice and we don’t get much in return… so it’s better to take to a legitimate Vintage store! But anyway… the show is my baby, I’m super excited because when I created it I imagined it getting to the point it is at currently and in my head I thought, “I’ll stop when it gets there and I’ll go back to performing” but I really love what it’s become and I want it to get even bigger so I’m launching a website for it on the seventh of April! It’s coming! People can go there, watch the episodes, and you can read more in depth about each Vintage store I’ve covered, and you can donate for the third season! I’m trying to pair with different production companies.

AF: This show needs to be on E, or TLC!

AM: I’d love for it to be on HGTV! My idea of course for the third season is to take it on the road and make it bigger and go International. For that I of course need more funds, more hands, more minds. I’ve done it all on my own up until now! I’m very excited to see what the next step is!

AF: So obviously you’re working on your next season and website…how many Vintage stores have you covered?

AM: Eighteen stores and brands and in the second season I had a couple more online stores because of course that’s a big thing now… but one of the online stores that we covered, we filmed last year in March and then we came back and filmed in July and they’d just opened a store in New York! It’s amazing to see a business grow and to have it captured in a twenty-minute episode! Also in the second season I covered a Vintage blogger… she lives in Williamsburg and handle is, Clothesandpizza- her whole thing is she mixes modern and vintage clothing and can always grab a slice to go. I’m hoping the third season can be longer episodes, where I cover a personality, blogger, and a Vintage store that connects to who they are, and go all over the world!

AF: I think that’s going to happen.

AM: My fingers are crossed.

AF: I feel like that’s something everyone wants to watch! Vintage is so in these days… and it’s easy enough to get your hands on Vintage pieces or household items… and then you find those gems and it’s so special because there’s so much history there! It’s so important to reuse things and find the beauty.

AM: It’s nice to have something that always has a story. It’s so special when the owner knows where each piece came from. You’re essentially wearing history!

AF: That justifies the purchase!

AM: Yes, you’re wearing history!

AF: Do you find that creating and working on your show motivates you even more as an actor and helps you in your craft or do you think you’re leaning towards shifting gears?

AM: I think it all works together! As artists we are so creative in so many different ways! It’s really great that we’re living in a time with technology, and we’re able to explore all of those things. I do think that while I’m still very much a performer right now the muscle that’s the strongest is the creator muscles, the editor muscle, the hosting muscle… I think to be multi-faceted you’re not going to be 100% at everything all the time. There’s just no way.

AF: What would your words of wisdom be?

AM: Oh God key quotes. I think for anyone who has the dream of coming here… and now being here ten years I would tell younger Allison… “No bullshit… this is really hard. Everyone knows the song, ‘If I can make it there… I’ll make it anywhere’ but making it in the industry… means just waking up and living day to day. You just got to keep doing it. If you love it here and feel fulfilled… then you’re meant to be doing it.” However when it comes to creating… the thing that sticks with me is the woman that created Spanx, she said, if you have a good idea for something you should wait an entire year before putting it into fruition and don’t tell anybody about it. As artists, and entrepreneurs you have so many ideas… but then how many do you lose? All those ideas get left by the wayside but the ones that stick for a whole entire year… those are the ones that are meant to be. That really resonated with me and is kind of what I did with Vintage Voyageur. When I finally shared my idea with a friend that’s when it began to receive that affirmation. For younger people, I would say… if it’s really on your mind… really do it. It takes so much work so ruminating about it and making sure it’s something you’re passionate about it is worth it. Also- you don’t have to struggle and scrape in Manhattan… you can live in a borough.

AF: Right- just remove yourself!

AM: I didn’t realize how much I needed the change until I moved. So with that I say, live where makes you happy and keep your eyes pealed for the third season of the Vintage Voyageur!

AF: Cheers!

 

Allie Trimm: Crumbs are Good but Go for the Cake

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Allie and I met in person last year when we both performed in the same Christmas concert through Less Than Rent Theatre. Though this was our first time meeting,  I had known of her name and talent since I was a mere thirteen year old. Allie originated the role of Patrice in the Broadway hit, Thirteen, went on to do Birdie… and spoke with me about her transition from Broadway kid to woman on the audition grind! Taszo Espresso Bar is her neighborhood coffee shop and so we justified repeating the location on the blog for convenience purposes and to make use of her punch card! 

*Drink of Choice: Almond Milk Latte


 

AF: Okay I just have to say… I was obsessed with Thirteen the musical…

AT: It’s the gift that keeps on giving! It’s like such a cult thing that exists and that will always exist.

AF: “What it Means to be a Friend” was my song in college!

AT: I love it. When I go out… little kids come up to me and always have something to say about it. It’s fun to see productions of it now because I get really emotional when I see other people doing it. It was just such a good show. It was such a transformative time in my life. I was thirteen.

AF: Okay so let’s start with what are you drinking right now?

AT: I’m drinking an Almond Milk Latte because I have a punch card here and I come all the time. I live right around the corner. I had my punch card filled and so today is my day for a free drink. Usually I’ll just get a coffee, keep it simple… but today it was an Almond latte.

AF: So is this your drink of choice?

AT: If I’m at a local coffee shop, which is what I prefer… I like a nice drink.

AF: And you got a nice muffin…this is an EVENT!

AT: Totally an event. I slept in this morning for this morning for the first time in weeks and my mom is here so…my mom leaves tomorrow and I leave on Tuesday morning…

AF: To go to Vegas…

AT: To move to Las Vegas…!

AF: Okay let’s go back to the beginning. Where are you from… how did you get here?

AT: I’m originally from San Diego and I grew up doing community theatre there and then I started doing professional theatre when I was really young… seven or eight. I did local productions and a agent, Judy Bowman had seen me and when I was thirteen she reached out to me asked if I wanted to audition for them. My mom and I were like, “Okay….” I just had no idea… I think I was just really loud so my parents put me in community theatre as a way to get my out of the house… I guess it was almost like glorified babysitting. So I signed with this agency and the same week they were having Thirteen auditions in Los Angeles. It was one day…and I mean I didn’t know anything. I was prepared to sing a Christina Aguilera song and they’re like it’s a Jason Robert Brown Musical all about kids… and I was like, “Who?” I was in seventh grade… I didn’t even really know what Broadway was. The only reason I know what it was was because of Wicked… so this audition was for the Goodspeed production. Long story short I was there for four hours and because they only had one day they had firs round, second round, callbacks, all in one day. They were cutting people as we went. They ended up hiring like five kids from that day in LA. We all went to Goodspeed and the rest is history! It was just the most bizarre thing! I was all prepared to sing Christina Aguilera and I was in the bathroom and thought, “I’m not going to do that…” and then I hear them calling my name so I’m shuffling my papers and I go out and go to the audition room and could not have told you who was who at the table… and I was like, “Hi my name’s Allie Trimm and I’ll be singing the “Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog.” And the whole table looked at me like, “Who is this KID!?” And Georgia Stitt… Jason Robert Brown’s wife, was playing the auditions and I’m pretty sure when I gave her the tempo I said, “Okay so you can just pep it up here…make it a little bumpy!” It was the wildest experience. We had a dance callback and I didn’t know that there was going to be one so I danced in a dress and Bermuda shorts… because I was thirteen and still wore Bermuda shorts. They were like four inches longer than my dress was.

AF: That’s amazing. Those are the stories that you’re like… wow what a humbling time!

AT: In the dance audition they had us improv. the first eight measures of the song and people were doing pirouettes and breakdancing and I stood there for eight beats and did “The Robot” but like really poorly… I just stood there and Robotted.

AF: I wish there was a documentary of “the making of Thirteen.”

AT: I wish! I would pay money to see that. But it worked out… and Patrice is classically awkward and she would do “the Robot.”

AF: Did they team write characters influenced by you guys….

AT: Partially… they had already done a ton of workshops and readings for the show before I auditioned so I came in kind of late in the game… however at Goodspeed they learned a lot about our voices. It’s very challenging to write music for kids who are going through puberty, especially… It was definitely a challenge… once we opened on Broadway some of the boys voices were changing… but the song “Lamest Place in the World” wasn’t in the production until after Goodspeed. Jason sent me a Facebook message and goes, “Allie I’ve got a new song for you. It’s gonna be really hard.” So he wrote that with my voice in mind which is really, really cool. Now that I hear it it’s like… there’s a part of me that is like… I was there when it was made! They would have us sit in rehearsal and just hang out and they’d come in the next day with script rewrites with things we actually said! Slang terms…”Let’s get shizzy with it!” Now when you see it done in theatres anywhere you hear those one lines and you know, “That was Liz…” Little baby things that are memorialized into this show. It was super cool! The coolest thing is that it just taken on a life of its own post Broadway… I can’t tell you how many productions I’ve seen. I’m biased but the show has an affect on kids. It feels different. You’re playing a version of yourself… It’s a different way of self-expression as a thirteen year old.

AF: What is your favorite story from the rehearsal process?

AT: I mean we were all thirteen through seventeen so we had all of our early high school drama on top of the stresses of performing on Broadway eight times a week… it was a LOT. I don’t remember it being stressful or hard… I remember the petty drama! Like laughing about how DUMB it was… I remember that being the end of the world but the actual pressure of performing on Broadway was just not a thing.

AF: That’s crazy to me!

AT: It’s weird to me too, because now as an adult I would probably get more nervous.

AF: Do you think you would approach theatre in a totally different way had you not had that experience at such a young age?

AT: That’s a good question… I don’t know the answer! Like I said…I didn’t really know what Broadway was when I was little so it was definitely not like my “dream to be on Broadway.” I didn’t know that that could be a dream… So for me, theatre was just fun. It was just fun and I got so lucky that I got to do it at thirteen. It wasn’t about making money or making a career… it was just about singing with my friends. There’s a lot to learn from that as an adult now that we’re like okay we have to pay our bills… this is our career… we have to advocate for ourselves… a lot of this can take away from the joy of just doing it. There’s a lot to learn from that “inner child.” My inner child friggin did it and she knows what it is. It was the same with Bye Bye Birdie. To me, it just felt like summer camp.

AF: That’s amazing. I wish that was everyone’s mentality. That’s such an awesome way to approach that kind of work.

AT: I just didn’t know any different. I was so young. I was a YOUNG thirteen year old, too. I was so sheltered. I came to New York and was like, “Woah strangers will talk to you!?” It was definitely a culture shock. I’m still close with everyone from the shows. I just saw Jason Robert Brown in concert last night with Sutton Foster and so that was a dream… I mean I learned to sing from singing along with Sutton’s “Astonishing.” That was my song… It’s always so inspiring to see your childhood idols perform…

AF: So you did Thirteen and then how much time passed before Bye Bye Birdie?

AT: It was consecutive. I have the best family… so I booked Thirteen and my whole family moved to New York City from San Diego… and we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know how long it would run… my dad kind of traveled back and forth but my brother was nine and my sister was five and they transferred to a little school on the Upper West Side. We lived on 99th and Broadway… in the best apartment.

AF: That’s a dream…

AT: We opened the run of Thirteen in October and closed in January so it was short, one season… then moved back home thinking that was it and then I booked Bye Bye Birdie months later and so then I moved back in August to New York for rehearsals. So it was a lot of back and forth. So when I came back for Bye Bye Birdie my mom asked my brother and sister if they wanted to come back for an adventure and they were like, “That was really fun but we’re just going to stay home this time….”

AF: That must have been hard to be away from family…

AT: We were lucky because the run coincided with Thanksgiving and Christmas and they were here for all of December, opening… my parents made it work in a way that I am so grateful for.

AF: There’s no way to make it work unless your parents are one hundred percent on board… you know?

AT: Yeah. I don’t think anyone could do it if they were fourteen and had no parental support.

AF: What do you think about this new movement with all the kids of Broadway starting even younger? Matilda, School of Rock….

AT: It’s pretty crazy. I also think it’s different because social media has advanced so much since 2008… And if anything affected me the most in a negative way it was reading YouTube comments, people taking videos when you didn’t know… and seeing what people would say about you… it’s so accessible. I would go on Broadway World message boards and type in my name and see what they were saying and when you’re thirteen… that’s hard to read! The way information is passed around now I think that would be really challenging. But I also think my big challenge that I didn’t care so much about was school… I was doing online homeschooling… there were glitches in the program- you didn’t have a human to talk to…. So I would get an answer right or I wouldn’t understand why I’d get it wrong… there was no one to really explain it. It was really hard. You’re working with a computer that isn’t perfected yet. So that was challenging and I have a feeling now that may be less of a challenge… They would have tutors come in. The way I remember it was that they were overseeing if someone had a question they could guide them but if I answered a question right on the computer and get a zero on the test even though I got a good grade, the tutor has nothing to do with that online system. It would be challenging because some kids were coming in from PPAS, or other performing arts high schools in the city, homeschooling, everyone was doing their own thing… there was no unified system for it. I would hope that’s a little different now. I would have to talk to some of today’s Broadway Babies!

AF: I think I would miss the accountability… of having a teacher check my work.

AT: It was so hard. We’d be in a tutoring session and we’d have kids in heels on tables with brooms in their hands belting “Defying Gravity” and we’d be like doing our math homework… it was not organized. When I finished Thirteen and I got back to California I was so behind in my schooling that I couldn’t just filter back in with my friends so I had to basically start over. It was really hard because I had to catch up and also start over.

AF: So you can attest to the fact that doing Broadway at a young age is amazing but you also had to make many sacrifices…

AT: Yeah- it took a toll. It didn’t feel like that at a time… It hit me a few years afterwards. The emotional aspect of it too! It was bizarre because when you’re thirteen your world revolves around you. Really from age twelve to eighteen… the world revolves around you! And so when you’re in that part of your life and you’re also going to the stage door and performing for an audience that’s clapping for YOU and you’re getting good reviews… it made me identify my self-worth with what people thought of me. And so to go from that to normal high school it felt super low and boring… I had to ask, “Who am I, what am I even doing?” It was a bit of a crisis! I think whatever the chemistry is in your brain… when you’re going through such a high resonating life to just very calm and normal and neutral… even though that’s average it feels so much less than because you’re used to this insane level of activity and that was a really hard adjustment because I was so used to being stimulated. I was used to getting a lot of positive reinforcement on my worth and talent and personality… many times a day people would tell me this! I don’t know how actual child celebrities do it… I had a sliver of a glimpse into what that life could look like.

AF: It’s amazing to hear you say that. You were definitely Broadway famous…

AT: Very short-lived…

AF: I mean you’re recognizable!

AT: It was short-lived. I’d be sitting at Junior’s eating cheesecake and I’d see kids across the way trying to take pictures.

AF: Patrice has got to EAT!

AT: But little things like that… taught my thirteen year old brain that I was “important” and then when people weren’t taking pictures of me eating cheesecake I was like, “What’s wrong with me!?” So as absurd as it sounds… it was a weird, bizarre, challenge to get through that adolescent phase.

AF: So that transition from child on Broadway to now… To me- as an outsider… it seems your career is thriving and you still enjoy performing! I feel sometimes child actors lose interest in performing after that season in their life.

AT: I had a really great experience. I went back to school after I finished Birdie. I went to public high school in San Diego and then when I graduated high school I moved to LA for a year to try the TV/FILM thing. That was hard because I was seventeen and was alone. I had one friend. I was in acting classes, and was learning a lot, but wasn’t meeting a lot of people. So then I went to college for a year and a half to study Human Biolgy and Psych.

AF: That’ll help ya as an actress!

AT: That was totally my thought process. I was like, “I don’t want to study acting! I need to study something different and new and something I don’t know anything about!” A year and a half in I told my mom I just needed to sing and that I just need to be in New York. My parents were so funny. I came home for summer after Freshman year and did Les Mis. at my “home theatre.” I played Eponine… dream role! It was such a low-key production but I was living my best life and my mom was like, “Why don’t you just move to New York now? You can go back to college later…”

AF: That’s amazing for your mom to say that!

AT: Yes. But I said, “No mom… I HAVE to finish.” So then I went back to school and a week into my second year of college I was like, “Mom, you’re right.” So I left.

AF: That’s so great that your parents are supportive.

AT: They believe in me.

AF: They’ve also seen that you’ve had success! I feel like sometimes parents are skeptical if they haven’t “proved” that they can do it.

AT: They believe in me more than I believe in myself half the time… sometimes to a fault. Sometimes I’m like… I remember this one time I went in for an audition. I was really nervous. I just kind of bombed it. And I called my mom and was like, “I don’t think it’s gonna happen, mom” and she goes, “Allie- do you know who you are? Just go back in there and say you want to sing it again!”

AF: Oh mom, if only it worked that way!

AT: It just goes to show… she believes!

AF: Getting back into that audition swing…

AT: It was HARD. It was so hard because I was comparing myself as an eighteen/nineteen year old to myself as a lead on Broadway. I didn’t expect it to be easy but I didn’t realize I would have to reintroduce myself entirely…starting from square one. Of course the friends that I have in the industry and credits help get doors open… but I wasn’t thirteen. I was a new person. I’ve been in New York three years now, and just this past year has it felt like I have a groove again.

AF: That’s very encouraging. It can just get so tiring!

AT: Last year I started doing coachings which has been so great… it’s in the world of what I’m doing, it’s something I enjoy, it’s giving back… and the girls I would coach are girls that LOVE Thirteen so NATURALLY it makes me want to lift them up. It was good to evaluate how I approach the Industry from a different perspective. It took a lot of the stress off… It gave me a purpose and schedule! It was a great turning point for me that doesn’t directly relate to “booking the job.”

AF: It’s difficult to separate your value and identity from booking something.

AT: I have been in Therapy for many a year… and something my therapist would always tell me when I would say, “Can I even call myself an Actress if I’m not acting?” and she’d say, “Are you kidding? You don’t have to be in a show to be an actor… you don’t need to be performing brain surgery to be a Surgeon. You have a skill set, a gift, a way of communicating, and that doesn’t go away when you’re not on stage.” A lot of people would tell me that. It’s hard to hear it though.

AF: Did you start seeing a therapist after Thirteen?

AT: It was some time after Birdie. It was when I was going from super high to mellow, low key life. I think I fell into an identity crisis… I didn’t know what I could control. So that was the time I started to try and figure out what I needed. I am a huge advocate for therapy. If you have the luxury of seeing someone and talking to someone I think it’s really helpful.

AF: Sometimes it feels like the things that get us excited are few and far between.

AT: Totally. My therapist is totally removed from the Industry so I’ll load everything on her and say, “I should be so happy I get to sing in this concert.” And she’ll be like, “Allie those are crumbs. Be grateful… that’s great but you can ask for the cake. You can get the cake.” That was huge. We’re so eager! It takes away from our power. Gratitude is obviously the only way you can approach your life but there’s something to be said for having high expectations and manifesting bigger things. If you’re begging from crumbs… you’re going to get crumbs… if you’re expecting crumbs… you’re going to get crumbs. And crumbs still taste good! But…

AF: That’s a really good way of putting it. It’s easy as actors sometimes to just settle… so that we don’t get our feelings hurt from caring too much.

AT: I’ll talk to people and sometimes you’ll be hit with the response “You should be grateful for that.” There’s a little animosity and I’ll pick up on that vibe… and I don’t want to sit in that energy. It’s about knowing what you want your life to look like and that it easily CAN.

AF: You are a walking testament! I want to ask you- what are you doing NEXT?

AT: So I just finished this lab of a musical called, Home Street Home. It was SO much fun! I did the lab at the O’Neil Theatre last summer. I just did another The music is written by Phat Mike who’s a punk rockstar from the band, No Effects. Jeff Marcs of Avenue Q is writing the book… it’s a really stellar team. They’re writing a story that is darker than anything I’ve ever done. It’s in the same world as Rent or Spring Awakening. It’s pushing boundaries of Musical Theatre… telling stories that are darker and harder to listen to but are important and real… super controversial. You get to love this family of street kids that she falls in to. It’s super edgy. They’re really pushing the boundaries! It’s been really satisfying form an actor perspective… here’s a blend of imagination plus pretend. So to go from that to Baz in Vegas… it is glitz and glamour! I’m playing Daisy Buchanan so it’s like… twenties! Total opposite of Home Street Home punk living!

AF: What kind of music is it?

AT: It’s all pop music: Lana Delray, Florence and the Machines… all these songs we know and love and used in the film adaptations of these stories directed by Baz Luhrmann. It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to be different than anything. I’m no really much of a dancer and this is a super heavy dance track! They had us end in a cartwheel into a split in heels… I did it and I surprised myself and it made me excited but…

AF: You have to be able to do it all these days… ugh! But you can do it!

AT: It’ll be the first time I’ll be stepping into a cast that’s already going. The show has been open for a year… I’ve got less than two weeks to learn the show, so it’s a very fast and furious process…

AF: Timing wise it worked out perfectly with Home Street Home!

AT: I’m excited! It’s a six-month contract… I have no choice but to improve!

AF: Now I always ask… what are your words of wisdom?

AT: The first one that comes to mind is be kind to everyone… you just have to be kind. That has to be the way you approach everything. The second one is, believe in the power of asking for what you want because you’ll probably get it. The worst that can happen is it’s not meant to be and it doesn’t happen. That’s been the biggest thing that I’ve learned in these past few months. Jokes aside about the crumbs… just expect more from yourself because you’ll rise to the occasion. It’s in your hands. It’s in my hands. When I saw the audition notice for Baz I was like, “I can’t do that…” and here I am, and I am going to do it.

AF: How empowering is that!?

AT: It’s in your own hands.

AF: Do you feel you started excelling when you had that mentality shift? When you decided to put out what you wanted to receive in return?

AT: I definitely think something shifted. When I first moved to New York my expectations were so imbalanced. I had this false idea that I would get here and it would be really easy… and then when it wasn’t I immediately felt hopeless. All my of my self-confidence went out the window. I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t doing anything to excel my craft or give back to the community… I was MOPING! Getting to the point where I was getting pushed into a world where I was being valued for my creative input beyond just my fixed mindset. If you believe things will stay fixed… they will. But if you invest in the skill… then you will easily be able to do what you set your mind to. You’re opening yourself up to feeling failure. If you think to yourself, “you can’t do this…” you won’t. It’s easier said than done… it sounds really simple but I come across it a lot in my world of friends. If you shift the way you think about things and think, “I am overwhelmed with an abundance of friends, relationships, wealth, career…” it will just pour into you!

AF: You’re not going to an audition to be filled up… you need to already be there. The audition is just part of your day!

AT: I think that once you can get your head around how you think about it. Everything falls into place. It starts with gratitude. It starts with seeing the abundance that you have. And then it just will accumulate!

Upcoming 2/26 6-7pm @ Indian Road Cafe AMC: An Ode to Coffee

AMC poster for FB eventAnnabelle will host and perform in Actor Meets Coffee’s first ever concert! The concert will feature the blog’s alums, Ben Davis, Katie Oxman, Erin Cronican, Jamie Boswell, Alie B. Gorrie, Douglas W-Tieman, and Quinten Busey with Chris Rayis on the keys. The event will take place at Indian Road Cafe (Inwood’s best coffee shop). In addition to beautiful music, inspiring words, and amazing talent…. there will be coffee themed cocktails AND coffee available all evening. Come join in on the fun!

Bret Shuford: This is a Service

bret shuford

I met Bret a few months ago when I was asked to be a part of one of his hysterical parody videos. I knew I wanted him on the blog eventually to pick his brain on his Broadway career, his Broadway coaching work, and some favorite audition stories. We decided to meet at Tazso Espresso Bar, a neighborhood coffee spot in Washington Heights for an evening pick me up. There were adorable candles set on every table, a solid playlist going, and people beginning their happy hour as we sipped coffees.

*Ideal cup of coffee: Stumptown’s Cold Brew or a Pour over at home

BS: I’m such a coffee snob. I only do pour-over. We make our own cold brew… Our coffee maker actually grinds the beans… I love a good coffee. We go to Blue Bottle, Stumptown, or even Café Grumpy.


 

 AF: What are you drinking right now?

BS: I got an Americano.

AF: And is that your typical drink of choice?

BS: When it comes to coffee it really depends on my mood and the place and the time of day. I will always choose a cold brew at Stump-town… THAT is my drinking of choice. But when I’m making it… I usually make a pour-over.

AF: That’s why I’m so excited for Spring and Summer… bring on the cold brews! Would you have a cold brew in the winter?

BS: Yeah… but I wouldn’t take it outside…

AF: It would freeze… your tongue might get stuck.

BS: My other favorite place is in the East Village and it’s called, Abraco… it’s on seventh street between second and first and it’s the most amazing coffee. Anyway….

AF: You heard it hear folks! I didn’t know I was having a full-fledged coffee fanatic on the blog.

BS: Well when I saw your blog I thought, “I need to be on it multiple times to take her to all my favorite spots!”

AF: It’s a great excuse to explore. So now that we’ve covered coffee… what is your back-story? Where did you grow up, when did you move to the city…?

BS: So I grew up in Southeast Texas. I grew up in a suburban town called Beaumont…

AF: Beaumont… like Footloose!?

BS: Yes. Exactly like Footloose. Then I went to school in a smaller town called Orange, Texas. I knew when I was six that I wanted to be a performer.

AF: That’s young to know!

BS: I know. I started doing community theatre… and that was my whole childhood. I took dance classes, I was in choir, I was a thespian, and then I went on to do all the community theatre shows. I was a very odd young man in a Southeast Texas town…there were not a lot of boys like me. It was an awkward experience growing up there. But when I was nine we visited New York as a family trip and I was like, “I want to live here.” I knew when I was nine. Isn’t that weird?

AF: Sometimes you just know!

BS: I don’t know what it was.

AF: Did you see a show?

BS: We saw Phantom– but it was even before we saw the show that I knew I wanted to live there. We got off the train and my mom said I just immediately knew. I’ve been here for eighteen years. I went to school in Oklahoma for my first two years of college, the University of Oklahoma. Then I transferred to Wagner College, which is on Staten Island and I graduated from there.

AF: What has your time in the city looked like?

BS: Right after college, I worked at Paper Mill, got my Equity card…

AF: Right out of college…amazing.

BS: Right out of college… I worked during school in the summers, too. I did Footloose in Las Vegas between my Junior and Senior year of college and then I went back and finished college. Then I got my Equity card at Paper Mill, then did another show that rehearsed here but we went to Philly… and when we were in rehearsal 9/11 happened, which was super traumatizing. That morning I didn’t have rehearsal so I’d gone to an audition and so I saw the second plane hit. It was traumatizing for the whole city…and for the whole country… So the timing of it was crazy because I had just graduated and I was very hopeful and then that was tough to grow through so early in life. Talk about a real world experience. But then I just kept working, I stayed persistent and got an agent and then I kept thinking, “Gosh… this is taking me forever to get my first Broadway show…”

AF: Really? And you’d been here how long at that point?

BS: I got my first Broadway show when I was 24 years old… so it took me two years… and I thought that was too long.

AF: It’s nice to hear from someone who booked Broadway quickly that you realize, “Wow… that was crazy fast.”

BS: I know people my age who have never been on Broadway and are still trying to get there. I think there was something about coming from a small town and growing up feeling like none of it was possible- that drove me to try to make it.

AF: You were so driven.

BS: My first Broadway show was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

AF: How was that?

BS: So fun. I mean it was the dream. I was “Finally on Broadway!” One of the most amazing things about that experience was it was the first time I actually realized that Broadway isn’t about the most talented people, it’s not about the best choice… it’s about profit. It was a bit disheartening but also super empowering. It lost its’ magic in a way but it helped me kind of become an adult. There are a lot of talented people that deserve a chance.

AF: YES!

BS: I see being in this industry almost as a service position. You’re helping make somebody’s life better. You’re enlightening them, teaching them something.

AF: Evoking emotion…

BS: If we are being of service then it’s not necessarily about us… it’s about the other person and being of service to them. I feel like some people have forgotten about that. That’s one of my main goals in my adult life… to shift that.

AF: So how are you working to change that?

BS: Well I got my certification as a Life Coach.

AF: So what does that mean?

BS: I was doing my third Broadway show and was backstage and was like… “Living the Dream” and was very unhappy. I was doing the eight shows a week grind which is a really tough schedule and I said to somebody sarcastically, “Did you ever think when you graduated with a Theatre degree you’d actually be on stage dressed as a Stingray for your career?” He said, “This isn’t a career this is a job.” And something clicked for me. And it was like…okay if I can look at this as a job… that’s a different way of looking at it. On the other hand I didn’t want to do this to just have a job. I wanted to do this because I have stories tell and have things in me that need to be expressed and I want to change the world in a scene. If I just wanted a job I could work at Starbucks. So it shifted what I wanted to do… I wanted to make a bigger difference. I wanted to keep performing but I knew with so many people that they were finding that they were getting stuck in that eight show week grind and felt like they couldn’t leave and that they were supposed to feel grateful… and I thought, “I want to help these people understand fulfillment is more than what you do.” You can find fulfillment outside of this. Even if you just need money, you can do other things to make money if you want to be artistically fulfilled at the same time. I want to help people discover what those things are. I want to help people…whether it’s to be on Broadway or something else… I want to help those people fulfill those dreams.

AF: So you coach all actors… Broadway… Broadway bound…

BS: To me living a Broadway life is not necessarily limited to being on Broadway. You have to live your life exactly the way you’d imagine your life would be once you’re on Broadway. That’s the goal. If your goal is to get there… why wait to feel the way you want to feel then? Why not start living that way now? That way when it happens it’s not such a big shift.

AF: That’s huge. And maybe you did find this but once you booked Broadway it’s like… “Now what?”

BS: Exactly… it’s so much easier said than done. We’re never going to be satisfied… but that’s what makes us artists.

AF: The grass is always greener on the other side.

BS: So why not NOW, just do exactly what you think you would be doing once you had it… what would that life look like? What would you be doing? You’d need to be going to Physical Therapy so if there’s something wrong with your body take care of it now! If you’d need to be taking dance classes, take dance classes. If you’d need to be taking voice lessons, take voice lessons. And if you’re having a hard time making money… get a job that pays the bills because you can’t win a Tony if you can’t eat…

AF: That seems so commonsensical but as actors that quickly goes out the window.

BS: We define ourselves so much by what we do.

AF: And with Social Media now it’s all, “look at what I’m doing!”

BS: If you think you’re going to come to New York and get discovered from some open calls you’re mistaken because this entire industry is a live experience. If you’re not showing up live and in person to things… no one is going to care. You’ve got to go see the shows, go to the networking events, go to the auditions, and be a physical human being in the room with people. The people who aren’t doing all that… I question if they really want it.

AF: Yes. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not jumping in arms wide open.

BS: It’s scary. You’re never going to feel prepared. I still feel like I’m still not prepared. But you have to act as if you’re not afraid. You have to act as if you’ve already booked it. Whatever voices are in your head telling you can’t…. you have to pretend they’re saying the opposite. I remember before I went in the room for my first Broadway audition I wrote down my stream of consciousness for fifteen minutes until they called me in the room. I was writing mantras like, “I deserve this. I’m worthy of this. I have everything I need if I don’t get this- it’s totally okay.” And I booked it. There is just something about telling yourself that you are worthy.

AF: That’s awesome. How crazy would it be to go back and reread that?

BS: I wonder if I still have it. I actually have a great audition story.

AF: Do tell.

BS: So Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had closed… and then I did a regional gig, came back and was invited to go with a friend to France. He said, “If you can pay for the flight… I’ve rented a Chateau right outside of Paris and you can stay there for free. I have a chef coming, I’m inviting seven of my friends to all come and stay with me for a week…” I was going! I had no money but I charged it on my credit card and I was just going to do this because I was like, when else am I going to? So then I get an appointment for Immediate Replacement for Beauty and the Beast for Understudy Lumiere on Broadway… which is funny because I’d been practicing my French for this trip! So I was really good at my French at this point and the audition was the morning before my flight. So I go this audition and I bring my suitcase with me because I’m leaving from the audition to go to France and I remember sitting out in the hall and the choreographer coming over to me and asking, “What’s that for?” and I was like “I’m going to France tonight” and the he’s like, “But what if you book this?” and I said, “Well I was going to see if you guys could wait until I get back.” I go in to sing and read, and my French is EN POINT and the choreographer brings up France and they ask me in the room, “So you’re going to France?” and I was like, “Yeah so I was going to ask if you could wait a week…” So I’m in line at the airport waiting to board the plane and I get a call from my agent and he’s like, “You booked it.”

AF: What!?

BS: Yeah. So I literally flew to France, with a Broadway show waiting for me on the other end, and here’s the best part… Beauty and the Beast takes place in France so the whole trip was a research trip on my taxes…

AF: That’s not real life but it is because it really happened… !

BS: It was epic. That’s my favorite show I’ve done on Broadway. There was something about it. The magic, the music, the transformation… it was a really great company of people.

AF: Do you find that people are more inclined to book when they are working on something?

BS: I think that when you give yourself an outlet and you are doing something your care level goes down because then there’s not as much pressure on that audition. Because you have rehearsal later that afternoon, you’ve got somewhere to be, you’ve got a purpose. So often we put our worth in that one audition and that’s too much pressure for that one audition to handle. You need to have the mentality, “If I don’t get this…I’m good. I’ve got other things going on.”

AF: It’s finding the balance between being eager and being assertive.

BS: Yep!

AF: On that note… what are your words of wisdom?

BS: Success lies in the actions you take not the results you make. So what I mean by that is that if today you’re taking action towards something you want… that’s a successful day. If we’re only successful when we’re actually booking, or if we’re only successful when someone hires us- things we can’t control by the way- then we’ll never feel successful. But if today you did your warm up, you went to an audition, and you reached out to somebody… that’s a successful day. You’re one step closer to where you want to be.

AF: That’s great. Cheers.


For more information on Bret check out his personal site here and Broadway Life Coach site here!

 

Quinten Busey: Get Tappy

quinten

I met Quinten this summer doing Singin in the Rain and we quickly became best friends over our mutual affection for Zumbach coffee and Miranda Sings impersonations. I chose Parkview to meet for cappuccinos and brunch because it was the midway mark between our apartments, and they play Jazz music on the reg. We agreed on beautifully brewed cappuccinos to sip on…and quickly snuggled into a cozy nook against red brick walls to chat about the highs and the lows in NYC.

*Ideal cup of coffee: Espresso with a tiny bit of sugar


 

AF: So what are you drinking right now?

QB: So fun fact… it’s almost been one year to the DATE… that I started drinking coffee. January 16th. So in ten days… I will have been drinking for one full year.

AF: That’s a reason to celebrate! Welcome to the club!

QB: It is so good.

AF: What made you decide to join the addiction?

QB: Well first of all… I want to be cool. Everyone who drinks coffee is cool. But really what started it is that I was on the committee for my five year reunion for college and it was all coffee dates.. Every time we would have meetings they would be at coffee places and I would be so nervous thinking, “Well… I can’t not get coffee at a COFFEE place…everyone’s gonna judge me.” This was my mindset.

AF: People can be coffee snobs.

QB: So I asked people how to start drinking coffee.

AF: Really? What did people say?

QB: People said start drinking drinks that are really sweet like vanilla lattes, overly sugar stuff… so I started with that and that lasted like two seconds because it was too sweet for me. So then I slowly started adding less and less sugar and now I’m like just give me espresso with a tiny bit of sugar!

AF: So you’re drinking a cappuccino with just a little bit of sugar. What’s your go-to coffee drink?

QB: I’ve been pretty seasonal honestly. During the summer I’m all about an iced latte, iced coffee….

AF: -From Zumbach! New Canaan, CT! Sponsor us!

QB: So good! I have a lot of Starbucks gift cards so if I’m there I get a shaken espresso, which is two shots espresso with a splash of milk. But now that it’s cold… I’m all about this cappuccino.

AF: Me too.

(We stopped the interview for a moment to order brunch…)

QB: Side-note… when do you think it’s appropriate to stop saying “Happy New Year”?

AF: I say it for at least the first month.

QB: When does it stop?

AF: I don’t know… I’m so excited about the new year.

QB: Me too.

AF: So… the question I always ask is what is your backstory… how did you discover your love for performing, where did you go to school? Lay it on me.

QB: I was born and raised outside of Memphis, TN. I started taking Piano lessons and then those lessons turned into Voice lessons and that turned into my Voice teacher telling me they were doing a children’s musical and encouraged me to should audition! Long story short I auditioned for it, got it, and was HOOKED.

AF: A star is born.

QB: That was in eighth grade… I had never really taken dance lessons or anything. I never took dance lessons until college… so in eighth grade… I’m hooked right? A community theatre was doing Thoroughly Modern Millie and you had to be able to Tap dance so I thought, “That sounds like fun… I want to be able to do that…” so I started learning Tap dancing so I could audition for it.

AF: That is amazing.

QB: And then obviously Tap dancing has become my favorite thing in the world- (follow me at Pull Back Productions!) I did that, realized you could get a degree in Musical Theatre, and went to a small college on Staten Island called, Wagner College. I loved my school. They taught me how to dance and all the stuff you need to be successful in the city. I graduated, moved to New York City, and I’ve been auditioning ever since! Some years are much better than others but like… still here doin’ it!

AF: You’re still here.

QB: Still here.

AF: That’s the biggest challenge sometimes… to just stay and take what comes at you.

QB: One hundred percent.

AF: So what did your first year in NYC look like?

QB: I am a very rare case where my first year was amazing. It was the only time in my life where I paid all my bills because I was an actor. I was working constantly. It was because I could dance well, I was auditioning for companies that were a little lower down on the totem poll and then I got to work at Arizona Broadway Theatre and I was lucky enough to work there for over a year and a half! But if we go past the first year… we get to the second and a half year and it got really bad. I started becoming more choosey about what I would say “Yes” to. So my advice on that is first of all, listen to “A Balancing Act.” You should surround yourself with only positive people… end all be all… and then you just need to find ways to inspire yourself. Do something outside of Musical Theatre. Love something outside of it. It doesn’t have to be as much… but if you do find something you love more than Musical Theatre, do that!

AF: I’m at the point now where I have a lot of friends shifting gears…

QB: Year 27, year of shifting gears! Okay so… I brought things I wanted to show you. These things keep me on track and focused. (Takes a gorgeous journal out of his bag) This is my inspirational journal. During my really bad year, 2014-2015, I started reading The Secret and now I have all these inspirational quotes… so whenever I’m feeling bad or like I had a bad audition I open it up and read one of these quotes…

AF: What’s your go-to quote?

 QB: “A car’s headlight can only see two hundred feet in front of them but can still make a journey from California to New York.” So it’s like I can still go on a journey but I can only look two hundred feet in front of me because that’s all that’s important right now. Because looking to the far future for what’s going to be is… miserable.

AF: You can only control what is happening in the moment… in the present.

QB: So I have a lot of quotes and entries. I carry these around with me literally all the time.

AF: It’s like your little saving grace.

QB: Yes- and then to be even MORE positive… I have a passion planner.

AF: A what??

QB: It’s the best thing ever. So this is my quote for the year… “If you want something you’ve never had… you must do something you’ve never done.”

AF: So what does that mean for you Quinten?

QB: So for instance, my passion plan for this year is to get an agent. I think it’s a pretty solid goal.

AF: It’ll happen.

QB: So then you do things in order for it to happen. For instance I’m starting this Growing Studio Class on Monday… and I’m networking with friends, singing at open mic. nights, business cards… and then you plan that into your whole year.

AF: These things are all essential. It’s little things that we don’t realize… auditions are not always the way you book work.

QB: Yep! So yeah… I have this passion planner and everything’s color-coded and so at the end of the year I can see what color was my year…

AF: It’s great to have a visual and to approach each day knowing you’re sort of tracking your progress and moods!

QB: Not that I’m judging my moods…!

AF: But it’s good to be self-aware!

QB: My favorite thing is that I have a whole page dedicated to “what makes me happy…” So I write things like pretzels, Chili’s, birthdays…

AF: Do you have coffee on there?

QB: In like my first line…

AF: Phew.

QB: New York City… going to the movies… after today I’ll update it to brunch with Annabelle… so that is a long-winded answer… obviously you don’t have to be as intense as me…

AF: No but to make sure you are aware and intentional about your progress and your year… and being realistic about success. There is a time and place for everything.

QB: Preach!

AF: It’s easier said than done.

QB: Oh so much easier. That’s why I stick to that passion planner like it’s a Bible… because if I don’t it messes everything up.

AF: It makes you ask, what am I doing here? Do I still want to be here?

QB: Or get a bullet journal… you just use bullets.

AF: Well I do love lists, so… it’s just really wild to reread some journal entries…

QB: Oh yeah. I read some from two years ago and realized I was just so unhappy…

AF: So I have a question for you… as an actor and as a naturally positive person… do you feel obligated to always put on a happy face? Do you feel actors are held to a certain standard of “having it together?”

QB: I feel when I am on a contract I am always happier… because I am doing what I love and I never complain when something goes wrong because I am literally doing exactly what I want to be doing. But when I am in New York hustling and bustling I don’t feel the need to fake being happy. I’m going to embrace, “no this is what happened today…I’m upset by it…”

AF: But in a contract situation you feel a responsibility to be a leader and sort of set the tone?

QB: I mean yeah… there’s an artistic director in New Hampshire at the Palace theatre and his motto is, “Everyone is talented…I just want to work with nice people.” And it’s so great because every time I work there, it’s true… people are so nice! It’s so wonderful. It makes you want to work harder and it makes it more fun to perform with such nice people!

AF: It’s just good to remember in our career that sometimes it’s more important to be a good human and be kind than to be the most talented…

QB: Oh my God my mom would hug and kiss you if she heard you say that.

AF: Heyyyyyyyy!

QB: Hey Florence!

AF: So what are you working on now?

QB: Starting next week I’m beginning my showcase class and I’m going to start choreographing something for my business to make another video!

AF: Amazing. And what inspires those choices?

QB: Okay this is a great segue. There’s a great podcast called, A Balancing Act. I’ve told SO many people to listen to it. It really does change your life. She talks about how we define an actor as somebody who is on a paid contract but she redefines it by saying a working actor is someone who is working on their craft; taking class, singing through their book, finding new monologues, reading a book about it… So I realized, Oh my God… I want to be working on something all the time. So I started a company because of that podcast and now I teach once or twice a month but now I’m into making these videos and choreographing. I’m exploring art… and using my friends.

AF: Putting your work on display.

QB: I love Tap dancing and I love sharing it with others.

AF: It’s so good! Everybody needs to watch it!

QB: So that’s why I started Pull Back Productions… because of that podcast. Full circle. It sounds cliché but it changed my life forever. Isn’t it funny that that podcast came into my life when I was so miserable and so unhappy and after listening to ten episodes… my whole life was changed for the better? I am the happiest I am right now…

AF: I think it is so important to act on impulse… and to pursuit other interests. Find something to fill you up because contracts don’t last!

QB: Yep.

AF: Doubts are so horrible and so normal but you assume nobody is thinking those things…

QB: Everyone is. Last year I called my teacher on the phone and told her that I was just a little confused about what I wanted and needed somebody to tell me that yes what I’m doing is correct. And so she goes, “Yeah I went through the same thing two months ago…” and she has a Tony and is a very successful woman…

AF: It doesn’t ever go away…

QB: I was like, Oh. She goes, “This happens to everyone… this won’t be your last time… you’ll probably feel this way again next year…”

AF: It’s good to be aware that nothing will ever really fulfill you unless you are truly happy.

QB: That’s why you must find something that makes you happy outside of Musical Theatre and surround yourself with positive people. On one contract I started a group text and would send the cast a positive quote each day. It’s what I connect to. Some people think that’s cheesy… and I understand that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

AF: Come on, in our chaotic world right now… bring on the cheesy. Okay now I want to know… tell us when you felt your greatest feelings of joy and accomplishment in the city and then an example of when you felt most discouraged.

QB: Okay so the first moment I had of pure joy was… I had just graduated from college and I worked at this company right after school and it was really fun but I was really young and I didn’t really know what was happening… and then that Christmas my roommate got me a job. So I had been working based on other people’s recommendations but then finally I booked this show at Broward Stage door and I did it all by myself! I went to the audition, didn’t know anybody that has ever worked there, didn’t know who any of those people were and I was so happy because I knew it was based solely on my talent. It was the first time I realized how much I love this career. But then in 2016, “the dark ages,” I got typed out of The Wizard of Oz and then the next day I got typed out of The Little Mermaid and Damn Yankees… like I may not get the job but I’m definitely not somebody to be typed out for those…So I’m already so depressed because I hadn’t worked in over a year and hadn’t been getting any callbacks and didn’t get this tour that I really wanted and I just remember standing outside of my survival job, on the phone with my mom, and not even crying, hysterically crying and my coworkers are passing me by… Then two weeks later my job was like, “We’re closing for business…” And I was like, “What!? Now my survival job is gone?” I remember being so depressed and thinking I wasn’t going to have a job any more and I went home for two months… because I couldn’t get a job. I was thinking I would change paths, go home, figure it out. That was the lowest of the low- leaving the city for two months. I couldn’t pay my rent. I couldn’t afford to live in the city.

AF: And look at him now!

QB: I’m happy as a little lark in June! This year has been wonderful.

A: I’m sure a lot of it has to do with an attitude shift, right?

QB: At home I really focused on what I wanted to do. I asked, What shows do I want to be in? If you look at this year… I did Singin’ in the Rain, Anything Goes, and White Christmas… I know what my strengths are. I know I can Tap dance!

AF: So in conclusion… where do you see yourself five years from now? Hopes, dreams?

QB: Five years… that’s a lot of time. It would be nice to have a dog and a relationship and I just have so much more to learn in this career… I’m going to keep taking classes. I’ve realized that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here in the city. I just want to be happy and still auditioning and obviously working would be awesome… but I’m so happy in my normal life that if I’m not performing I’m still happy! So… pretty much in the same place I’m in right now but with a dog and in a relationship. I mean Broadway would be cool… a National tour?

AF: To put a cap on all of that… what are your words to live by?

QB: My quote of the year is, if you want to do something new, you should try something different… how are you going to get anywhere by doing the same thing?

AF: Thank you for coming on the blog! 2018 is off to a great start!

Andrea & Ben Laxton: Sharing Success

ben and andrea

I met the Laxtons at a coffee shop that just opened right near their cozy apartment called, The Uptown Garrison. This coffee shop is destined to become the best new place to meet up with friends, drink strong coffee, and get work down. In our case, we had a very successful conversation about being a couple in the business over lattes. Andrea and Ben never cease to amaze me.

*Ideal cup of coffee:

BL: Pour Over.

AL: Almond Milk Latte


AF: What are you drinking right now?

BL: I went with a latte today, but usually I just go for some straight up pour over. At home if I want “coffee coffee,” I’ll grind some with our Aeropress, which is the best tour trick ever.

AL: It’s great for travel. So for any of your readers who are going on tour or are going to be on tour at some point…we are endorsing this product.

BL: You find a great coffee shop on tour and buy the bag of beans, and grind it yourself!

AF: On tour that’s what we would get most excited about! Finding cute coffee shops…

BL: That’s what I remember most about San Francisco…

AL: That’s what I remember most about San Diego!

BL: Going to Ritual… going to Four Barrel…

AF: How long were the sit-downs for Ghost?

AL: A week… some two-week.

BL: I think our longest was two and a half weeks.

AL: For Mormon he had an eleven-week sit-down!

AF: What do you prefer? Short or long sit-downs?

BL: It was nice getting to settle in. You know your neighborhood and then people were scattered all over the city so we got to visit other areas! We were all in Airbnbs.

AF: Amazing. Alright Andrea, what’s your ideal cup of coffee?

AL: Hmm… usually an Almond Milk Latte. Simple. We have an Espresso machine. We are huge coffee lovers. When we go on contracts I bring my travel size one with me.

AF: When it comes to coffee… I have no shame. So I’ve asked everybody on the blog this question but since you are our first couple on the blog I want you to ask each other this one… Ben, what are three words you would use to describe Andrea? It’s like the newlywed game!

BL: I would say…

AL: I know what he’s going to say.

BL: Passionate, driven, and bubbly. Bubbly’s not quite right though… Light-hearted, silly…

AL: Erratic?

BL: Full-spirited.

AF: Love it. Filled with spirit.

AL: My words for Ben would be…

BL: Let’s see if you get this right…

AL: We don’t know each other that well so this is hard…let me start rattling off a few and then I’ll pick the top three. Friendly, amicable, generous, passionate, talented, curious but not nosy…approaches life with a newness or freshness… Like… I would use the word bright-eyed but that has a negative connotation…

AF: Always seeing the best in people or situation…?

BL: Optimistic?

AL: Yes! Optimist. I guess we could go with friendly, talented, and optimistic. My dad used to call him “The gifted one.” And I’m like… “Dad I agree with you, but I’m your daughter…” I wasn’t that offended but I just thought, “Wow he must feel strongly about this…” and I was like, “I agree with you, dad.”

AF: Well you guys clearly know each other. Let’s talk your backstory- how you met, how you got to the city, what the city has looked like?

AL: Well we met before college even began.

BL: During orientation.

AL: We were at that orientation where they group you based on your major once you get there. He was running up the stairs at the basketball stadium and I was like, “Oh man, I don’t know if we’re going to be friends.”

BL: Too enthusiastic…

AL: He was so enthusiastic…in a beautiful way… but I think I was just weary and I didn’t understand that who he is, is one hundred percent authentic. I thought he was attention seeking… and so was I!

AF: We all were!

AL: And then we became fast friends. It didn’t take long. He was so talented and so inspiring that it made me proud to be going to Belmont. He always did that for me and he still does. I’ll see him perform today and I’m so proud that we came from the same program. We didn’t fall in love until Junior year…

BL: We were best friends…

AL: Nobody really knows the real story…. We were so close because there were only six of us in our class and it was always so platonic until it wasn’t… He was driving me home from a Halloween party and he was throwing French fries out the window and I opened the door… while the car was moving… so I was pulling all the stops.

BL: She was flirting.

AL: I was flirting hard. And then one day we just started making out and then we fell in love…

BL: Yep.

AL: We fell in love really fast. I’ll quickly tell you about moving to New York. We did a quick contract together right after school… it was very challenging, we learned a lot, and it pushed us in a way we needed to be pushed in not getting things we wanted. It lit a fire under us. It kind of exposed us to how just because you’re the best person for the job doesn’t always mean you’re going to get the job… which is a really valuable lesson to learn. It was a true dose of the real world in a great way.

BL: And also coming from a college program that kind of has the same idea about what makes a good performance, or what makes a good performer, and going to a place that had a very different idea about that and learning what that meant and finding skills in other ways, it really opened us up and took us in a new direction… because when you move to New York you’re like, “Wait a minute… what was I being taught for four years?” I think that helped us prepare to learn and adapt on our own…

AF: Grow together…be together… outside of the Belmont bubble!

BL: Learning to support each other through some tough moments.

AL: We did have to work through early and I’m so grateful. It always reminds me of the The last Five Years when Jamie says, “I will not fail so you can be comfortable Kathy, I will not lose because you can’t win” and we had that moment when he was doing really well and was really revered and his performance was very valued and I didn’t feel the same way and I felt that the attention and the praise he was getting was taking away from my experience and I recognized it immediately and knew I had to figure it out or we were not gonna last. It was a beautiful opportunity to get to work through that before we got to New York. Living in New York is its’ own thing to figure out! So then after that we booked separate tours. He booked Catch me if you Can and I booked Beauty and the Beast. He proposed to me while I was on tour and then we had six months of Equity work lined up after that… but then we ended up booking Ghost together. We got married on a two-week layoff and then we had three more months of tour together and then we moved to New York on the heels of Ghost.

BL: We were sort of questioning whether to take it and we sat down and said, “Okay… we’re going to ask for two weeks. A week for our wedding and a week for our honeymoon…and if they can’t give that to us… then we won’t take it.” And they were like, “When’s your wedding? Well you have a layoff during that exact time…”

AL: It was amazing.

BL: We got to audition early for Ghost because it was the same team as Catch Me… They were having people on our layoff come to New York to audition for Ghost. And because I was staying behind to propose to Andrea… I reached out and told them how much I wanted to be considered and if I could send in a tape… and if Andrea could send one in too… And they loved her. They brought her in for an audition and they were like, “Ben we love your tape but you look a little young for this show so we’re not going to move forward with you…”

AL: But the story goes they were considering me for Molly but they were also considering me for a cover and I didn’t specify on my sheet that I’d be willing to be a cover and so they called me and asked and I decided to be honest and said, “I just got off tour and I was covering… I’m now with my husband and we have six months of Equity work lined up, I wouldn’t take it unless he can come with me… then I would cover. So they brought him in… and we booked it!

BL: Yep!

AF: People want people to be happy on tour.

AL: I’m so glad I was honest.

BL: We found out later that it was a mistake… they had made a first pairing down and they’d paired it all the way down and then decided to start over and they never opened everything back up again…

AL: The way that it happened was really amazing. So we did that and then moving to New York we had a bunch of money saved up and we’d just been living together on tour…

BL: Living together in tiny hotel rooms… so basically just like a New York apartment!

AL: So we thought… oh we’ll be fine. But the first three months were TOUGH.

BL: You don’t take the city into account… you don’t think about working, and auditions. When we moved Andrea went straight into rehearsals for the Chasing Rainbows reading.

AL: I turned Equity the next day… I got my card.

BL: So that kind of made up for me being a guy and her being a girl…!

AL: Ben sort of struggled and had to sit in that hallway of shame… I never had to struggle. I never had to wake up at three am and put my name on a list…

BL: And I’d be like, “Hey can I take my wife’s water bottle to her?” And they were like, “No. You’re gonna have to have her come to the hallway…” I had to text her that I had her water bottle and that they wouldn’t let me pass the rope…

AL: It’s so demeaning. So that was an interesting dynamic for the two of us…. But then I just ended up taking on too much work. And Ben…

BL: I got a little children’s show…

AL: I think what was hard about all of it was working, juggling all of it, and living in a small space, scheduling… and trying to figure out balance. Our relationship was the last thing that we gave attention to and we ended up figuring it out… But we had that and then we were supposed to go on Ghost international tour together and then Ben booked Mormon.

 BL: Three weeks before we were supposed to leave… !

AL: So then I go by myself, so we’re a part again, and I’m international… and so at times we were twelve hours a part, sixteen hours a part…

BL: Twelve was better than seven or nine…

AL: Yeah…

BL: ‘Cause then you’re starting and ending the days together…

AL: Communication was really hard. How old were we?

BL: We were twenty-six or twenty-seven…

AL: And you feel just kind of a shift… anywhere from twenty-six to twenty-nine…

AF: I feel it! It’s this weird in between… kind of waiting time…

AL: Things will happen but it’s that period of putting in the leg work and not really seeing the results yet and things in your personal life might be a little different. I had different feelings about who I was as a woman. I had different relationships and that whole time we were not together. And I remember coming back and telling him, “I feel like a totally different person now. I feel like a totally different person than who I was when I left.”

AF: So was that a huge adjustment then?

BL: It was pretty big.

AL: We had to do a lot of work. And that’s when we realized we needed to put each other first.

BL: Yeah.

AL: So right when I came back from China… I went to Flat Rock.

BL: And I was still on tour…

AL: And then I booked Elsa in Frozen in LA and he came and joined me. And then I decided I didn’t like LA and I booked Goodspeed, so we moved back to New York.

AF: Were you both contemplating living in LA?

AL: I thought about it…

BL: She was potentially going to be there for six months so I just thought, “Oh great… I’ll just go and live with her there.”

AL: As messed up as our trains are in New York… I missed them. I didn’t like driving around. The energy of New York energizes me, and for me LA didn’t stimulate or inspire me.

BL: It was hard for us to find forward motion. The pace is just different.

AF: It’s good to explore other cities… and Ben you found that with tour, too…

BL: Yeah I got to live in San Francisco for three months and it was great but I was ready to leave after the three months. I was ready for the next thing.

AF: You have to listen to that!

AL: I’m not in a place yet where I’m ready to settle…I think this is something I’m meant to do… for now.

AF: The opportunities in the city are endless… and that’s what keeps us coming back, right?

BL: If it’s not one thing it’s the next thing…

AL: I’m not driven all the time… if I’m not happy… I take a step back.

BL: That’s been key.

AL: I am just now getting back into auditions.

AF: On that note… how would you define success?

AL: That’s been key for my success in life. I define success as being able to wake up in the morning and be grateful and have joy for what I’ve built for myself in no matter where I’m at in my life. The ability to just to stop and enjoy where you’re at is success because things come and go; contracts come and go, Broadway will come and go…we’re going to have kids, we’re going to have so many adventures- but if you can stop and truly feel grateful I think that is ultimately my version of success.

AF: That’s amazing. Just shifting the perspective from “I want” and instead being filled with gratitude.

BL: It takes your power back because there’s so much that’s out of our control. But if you just wake up and are striving to be happy with what you have around you… whether that’s moving forward with the next thing or that’s just taking a step back and enjoying where you are…coming to the Uptown Garrison and enjoying a cup of coffee and being happy about it… you’re totally in control of that.

AL: Just being able to perform in the city is success.

AF: Ben, I’d love to pick your brain… success…Broadway. For me right now, Broadway feels like the top of success…so for someone who is currently on Broadway, what is your perspective on this topic?

BL: For me, success was having my parents there, and having Andrea there at the show. It’s a show that I’d been doing on tour so my first night I was just thinking about the little differences in blocking and stuff. I wasn’t really nervous. Opening night on Broadway didn’t feel overwhelmingly, incredibly special and wonderful, which is probably a bummer for a lot of people to hear, sorry! But then looking out and seeing my parents in the audience… I thought about all the sacrifices they’d made. My mom driving two hours once, sometimes twice a month to Chicago for voice lessons when we moved to Illinois… them getting to see that, that made it feel like success. There are certain things where it makes it easier, to be in the “government show”, knock on wood…

AL: It does make it easier to pay our mortgage, go on trips, take vacations…

BL: That’s the exciting thing for me. It’s allowed us to really settle and make a life. That’s why it feels like success. I’m really going to be able to do this and focus on my family.

AF: Laying that foundation for the future!

AL: Money’s not as tight so it allows us to be a little more fancy-free. It allows me to not feel obligated to babysit every single day. I work because I want to work…

BL: Driven, nailed it!

AL: It is so important to make your partner’s success feel like your success too. It is pinnacle. I think that has been the most valuable thing to sustain our marriage. It’s like when he goes on for Elder Price on that Broadway stage, I’ll probably feel even prouder than him. I think I will have more joy than if I was bowing as a lead on Broadway. His success brings me a lot of joy.

BL: Thank you baby that’s really nice.

AF: On that note, what is the biggest benefit of having a partner in this business and what is the hardest part about it?

BL: I think the best part is the grounding force. Based on our definition of what success was… it’s about looking at your life. So having a concrete person and concrete animal for that matter really helps you take a step back and realize what’s important. And then stupid practical stuff… this morning Andrea was able to sleep for an extra five minutes because I stapled her headshot and resume together while she did her makeup. Time management!

AL: The biggest benefit to having a partner in the business is that we can talk about stuff for hours and hours and hours and it’s not so totally annoying. We have so much we can relate on. We have the same training, we went to the same school… so we can talk about a performance, music theory… We also tend to think similarly. I want to know what it would look like through my eyes and he’s the closest thing. It’s cool. So when he came to Ghost I asked and he said, “Okay… here’s what was great… you don’t have to worry about this…” and I’d be like, “This is what I was doing in this part… are you getting that?” And he’d be like, “Yes, I’m getting that.” I just trust him and trust his eyes and ears so it’s very beneficial. The benefit is the support in every sense of it. Of course you have that emotional support…but actual advice you get from the person is invaluable. I don’t trust anyone as much as I trust Ben.

BL: We kind of worked through the biggest pitfall of being with someone in the business, which is allowing their success to feel like your failure. And Andrea has a great way of putting this and says, “I don’t want you to feel like you have to dim your light for my light to shine.” It’s really cool.

AL: It happens in relationships all the time. You shouldn’t have to dim your light.

BL: It’s funny because even if it feels like competition… it really doesn’t come down to that at all. They either wanted this person or that person… it’s not that that person is better. It could be any arbitrary thing.

AL: Success is being happy in the interim. Live your life. Enjoy your life!

BL: When you’re enjoying life and enjoying other aspects of life… then you can walk into the audition room and not care!

AL: Yeah like… “Let me just do some good work… and then leave!”

BL: Don’t dim your light.

AF: Okay- last question… what are your words to live by?

AL: Listen to yourself, have faith in yourself… it’s all about self-actualization. Figuring out my unique perspective on the world and to cherish myself, cherish my relationship with Ben… if you have that sorted out… then you can apply what you’ve worked for.

BL: Everyone’s path is completely different. For some people it helps to look around at others if that inspires you. I try to let it inspire me or move me in a certain direction. But don’t get caught up on when they achieved what. The industry is going to go through so many different things. I’m very fortunate right now because it was just my time to be in Mormon. I graduated the same year Mormon opened! So yeah… use others to inspire you but know that everyone’s path is different.

AL: That’s beautiful, babe!

AF: You guys are beautiful. Cheers.