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How Does an Actor Get to Broadway?

By Kaitlyn Gilmore ('22)

Photo courtesy of Wix

Performing gives people a chance to showcase to others what they have been working on and entertain others with their talent. Broadway actors do this every night, sometimes even twice a day. Broadway has made millions of people laugh and smile. People can either re-live a childhood story or fall in love with a new one. The real question is ‘what does it really take to become a Broadway actor’?

Broadway isn’t all fun and games. Actors go through insane practice hours for each show. Their practice schedule is every day, except Mondays, for up to eight hours for musicals and 5-6 hours for plays. Before a show debuts, they can work on it for up to six weeks in the studio. They have to learn everything from their lines to songs to their dances to the costume changes and even how to do makeup. All actors do their own makeup every night for their show.

There are many internships and jobs people can get behind the scenes to learn about everything and get into theatre before someone actually starts going to auditions. Playbill posts many internships and jobs that everyone can apply for.

There are also many schools like New York Film Academy. that offer acting and singing classes so people can train to strengthen certain skills, There is no need for a college degree, but some people say it would help.

Many famous Broadway actors like Lin Manuel Miranda and Kristin Chenoweth have theatre degrees, while stars like Lea Michele do not. It all depends on if the actor has time, and wants to get a degree. It is completely optional.

Regarding a college degree, choir director and director of the Drama Club, The Pirandello Players, Mrs. Ginny Kraft said, “I think that there’s a lot to be learned but I also believe there are many things that you can learn by doing...[but,] I will always be a proponent of getting a degree.”

Before aspiring actors go to auditions, they need a couple of things. They need headshots so casting directors can see if they look the part, when deciding for callbacks. Headshots are photos of an actor from the shoulders up and usually have the person with different facial expressions. Actors also need an acting resume that shows they have some experience acting. Whether it is in a school play or state theatre, aspiring actors should leave nothing out. It could be an important factor in getting a role.

The main thing an actor needs to do is go to auditions. That is the only way someone will get somewhere. Auditions are the only way to get one-on-one with the director/producer so they can see what emotions you can bring when reading an excerpt of a script. Auditions are held everywhere, like state theatres and schools. Putting yourself out there is a way to let directors see a person's skills in action. It might be the ticket to getting a job in acting.

As far as actually getting a callback goes, Mrs. Kraft said that it is, “very difficult. There’s just so many people for so few roles when you think about it”.

For the play to do well, every part is important and needs to run well. It does not matter if the part is small or it is one of the main roles. Even if someone is the understudy or in the ensemble they are needed to help the show go on. Each character was made for a purpose, like the ensemble. They might be in multiple scenes, playing different characters, to help the show feel more real.

One thing Mrs. Kraft would tell anyone aspiring to be an actor or actress is, “Immerse yourself in it. There are tons of opportunities, both here at the high school. There are theatre classes, there are production classes, there are opportunities to learn the backstage portion of it as well as the on-stage portion. Then, there are in this area, just tons and tons of places to go, but if it is what you want to do it does take an immersion in it that other things don’t”.

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