If I wasn't going to be an actor I was going to be a math teacher. In such an unstable artistic career choice I always felt comfortable knowing that if it didn't work out there was always algebra. Many actors you meet feel strongly that you shouldn't have a "Plan B". As soon as you have something to fall back on, you will, they say. To me that always sounded limiting. Artisic individuals, actors especially, have a wide variety of skill sets. Most are very good multi-taskers who can juggle multiple jobs and schedules while still pursuing Broadway dreams. So why did I have to have a one-track mind and only pursue performing? Well, I decided that I didn't have to. Enter Broadway Up Close Walking Tours.
When I first had the idea for a Broadway walking tour I thought our target audience would be Broadway theatre-goers heading to NYC for a weekend full of 2pm and 8pm activities within the walls of our 40 Broadway theaters. I thought that demographic would provide a steady stream of tour-goers and would be a great place to start. And I was content with that - until I got my first student request. A teacher in Virginia had come across our website and thought it would be a great activity to do that provided an educational, yet fun, experience for her musical theater students. I couldn't help but smile - life had provided me with the best of both worlds: actor AND teacher.
Okay, maybe I was teaching Broadway history instead of Algebra II, but for me it was close enough! That day, as I watched the students absorb all of our ghost stories and lore, I knew that I had to make it my mission to get as many students on our tours as possible. Where else to start than your own backyard? I turned my attention to my own alma mater, The American Musical And Dramatic Academy, where I had studied musical theatre back in 2003. Each year hundreds of students head to NYC to begin their artistic journey in the tutelage of the amazing staff at AMDA. Every aspect of a Broadway life was covered: audition technique, musical theatre song preparation, acting and scene study, tap dancing, ballet, jazz and musical theatre history. The last class was one of my favorites - we watched clips from past landmark Broadway productions throughout history and discussed their impact on the musical theatre art form as a whole.
One thing that wasn't covered? Everything else about Broadway's history - the titans who created the buildings, the economics, the social aspects, the architectural details and, of course, the ghost stories. Our Broadway Up Close tours have always tried to satisfy those missing links of Broadway's past. Now all I had to do was get every student in NYC to take our tour and add it to their overall curriculum...
For the past three years AMDA has included our ACT I Tour as part of their "Los Angeles To New York Experience". This select group of actors were given a special addition to their course work in our tour. But that wasn't enough for me. I wanted EVERY student that attends AMDA to join us as part of their orientation tour. What better way to get excited about beginning your artistic journey than to join me and my BUC Team on one of your first days in NYC?
Well, I'm happy to say it took me five years - but as of last month our ACT I Tour became an official part of their orientation weekend! How many new students were there, you ask? 326 eager, excited, fresh-faced, energetic actors.
And where was I during it all? I was the guy in a green BUC sweatshirt smiling from ear to ear as I watched all of our tours unfold around me. I was the guy beaming with pride as my BUC team shared our stories with each of those students. I was the guy who got what he wanted: actor and teacher at the same time.
326 students down, over 1,000,000 future actors to go...one Broadway story at a time...