Allie Trimm: Crumbs are Good but Go for the Cake

allie trimm

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!

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