On the 2nd Day of Broadway, the universe gave to me, TWO amazing, handsome Broadway men! Bret & Stephen are a dynamic duo who share similar philosophies to me on health, fitness, & wellness in relation to performing and living a positive, vibrant lifestyle! I think we could have talked for hours about fun ways we explore mind, body, spirit wellness and I’m excited to be including them in one of the upcoming January events for FFB (stay tuned!) Oh, and they’re an awesome example of how your relationship can empower your journey! #powercouple #broadwaycouple
NOTE FROM BRET: Hey Y’all, I’m Bret Shuford. Currently I’m playing Robbie in Cirque Du Soleil’s Paramour on Broadway. (no I don’t do any acrobatics in the show) Originally from Texas, I’ve also performed in numerous other Broadway shows including The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. You could say I’m living my childhood dreams.
NOTE FROM STEPHEN: Hi, my name is Stephen Hanna. I was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet. I’ve been in a couple of Broadway shows, but I’m excited to be in the upcoming Bette Midler Hello Dolly in the new year. Also, I’m married to Bret Shuford.
“Fit for Broadway” Tank from Fit for Broadway Apparel | Click HERE or click the picture!
Q: I’m already obsessed with you two after spending only an hour together and there’s nothing that makes me happier than an FFB couple feature so what a treat to launch the 12 Days of Broadway with y’all! Let’s start at the beginning for both of you. What was your journey to Broadway?
Bret: We are highly obsessed with you too! What amazing fun and inspiration you instill within the community. I knew at a very young age that Broadway was my goal in life. I was driven to Musical Theatre and committed my life to doing it. After spending most of my childhood performing in every play and musical in the Golden Triangle of S.E. Texas, I attended Wagner College. Soon after I got my equity card from Paper Mill Playhouse. Eventually I booked my first Broadway show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Since then I’ve toured, done film, Television, and married Stephen Hanna.
Stephen: I started dancing at three years old in Pittsburgh, PA. I took musical theatre classes and acting classes at local schools but was really drawn to ballet. At 13 I moved to NYC and went to School of American Ballet where at 17 I became a company member of New York City Ballet. (You can see me in the background of the movie Centerstage) I was promoted to the rank of Principal in 2005, and in 2008 I was asked to audition for Billy Elliot on Broadway and I booked it. Originating the role of Older Billy was my Broadway debut, it was life imitating art.
Q: How have fitness & health played a roll in your performance careers?
Bret: Since transitioning from dancer to actor I’ve found yoga to be my favorite source of fitness. Not only does it keep me flexible and strong, but it helps me center my mind and stay focused on the present moment. If I don’t get some sort of sweating on I find my threshold for NYC and this business not very high. Plus I love the people in the health and wellness community. I’m always looking for a new challenge for my body. After running the Walt Disney World Marathon I continued to train for other marathons and met some of the most wonderful people. It’s important to me to always be challenging myself.
Stephen: Being a professional dancer my whole career has been based on being physically fit and in shape. It’s important to be ready to play the roles I’ve had to do. Even in musical theatre I continue to take ballet class regularly, weightlifting, and I love Barry’s Bootcamp.
Q: How do you stay balanced as a performer- mind, body, & spirit?
Bret: Again, for body and mind I practice yoga. Plus I’m a firm believer in Therapy. I go to the gym for my body, and I go to therapy for my mind. Processing our emotions and getting objective help is vital for survival in this business. For spirit: My favorite foundation is in the 12 steps, but currently I’m studying A Course in Miracles. Marianne Williamson does these free weekly talks in NYC, and I’m obsessed! It’s changing my life. Plus Stephen and I started doing her Miraculous relationships course together. I believe sharing your spirituality with your spouse is the greatest gift you can give each other.
Stephen: Taking Class for my body. I love to take naps throughout the day. Eating ice cream after shows, and prayer and meditation on the train.
“Audition Audition” & “My Heart Beats for Broadway” from Fit for Broadway Apparel | Click HERE the picture!
Q: Let’s play “My Weekly Workout Schedule”!
Bret: Usually I spend my five show weekend trying to plan my workouts for the week. My week currently involves weight training twice a week for an hour with my trainer Blair Qteza. Then I schedule to go to Modo Yoga at least 2 times a week. Modo Yoga is my haven in the West Village, and has lots of Broadway people teaching there. Take Carinne, Lorianne, Michael, or Zoe if you get a chance. Then Saturday mornings is my #fitsquad brunch where me and my two besties go to Barry’s Bootcamp and then eat a delicious healthy meal before my two shows.
Stephen: I like to go to Willie Burmann’s class three times a week at steps on Broadway. We have gym in my building where I go to life weights at least twice a week. Then once I week I go to Barry’s bootcamp. Exercising makes me happy.
Q: Both of you are teachers/ life coaches! How does your work within the community fulfill you outside of performing?
Bret: What inspired me to become a certified life coach was a desire to help people within the community find fulfillment in a business that can often feel like it isn’t impossible. It’s so gratifying to see people discover their potential and knowing that they will bring the tools I teach them into everything they do.
Stephen: Teaching is a great way to be creative and help others. When I do it I realize how much knowledge I can give to people who are interested. I also am very fulfilled by ballet technique and to be able to focus on that brings me joy!
Q: During your photoshoot, we had to make a stop for green juice & smoothies! How important is food as full time performers in New York City?
Bret: Believe me, you don’t want to see me or Stephen hangry! I marvel at Stephen because he dances so much he can still pretty much eat whatever he wants. He just needs calories for energy. However, I desperately have to watch what I eat. If I don’t get high energy nutritious foods I lose stamina, and too much sugar effects my mood. So, to answer your question, it’s important for me to stay fed, and fed well, in order to be productive and give the best performance I can give.
Stephen: Food is very important, I like to eat. Eating often helps me get through the day as well as performances. It’s always a struggle, but it’s helpful for me to not drink soda, although I love it!
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring performers who are working towards a career on Broadway?
Bret: Stay curious! Try to understand all aspects of what it takes to work in the theatre. The more you understand, the more compassionate you can be towards the people you work with. The theatre is one of the most collaborative art forms out there. Plus, you may discover a passion for something you had no idea you’d be good at. Run lights, costumes, produce, write, etc. Do it all!
Stephen: My advice to anyone is to be consistent. Consistently training in all of it, acting, singing, or dancing. Even if you aren’t great at it keep training because it will only help you. Keep pushing yourself. Remember that everything is a process and never compare yourself to anyone else. Your journey is your own.
Q: How has your relationship empowered your journey?
Bret: Meeting Stephen has helped me not take things so seriously. He’s such a fun lighthearted soul, but so disciplined and talented at the same time. He keeps me inspired to be the best that I can be at what I do, and yet loves me unconditionally.
Stephen: Being with Bret has empowered me because he completely understands what I’m going through. When I’m down he can reverse it, and when he’s down I can help him out too.
Q: Favorite indulgent holiday treat?
Bret: PIE! PIE! PIE! (mostly pecan pie) BUT PIE!
Stephen: Chocolate Pecan Pie
Q: There’s a new FFB Apparel design that says “Always Live in Your Spotlight”. What are your Top 3 ways to live in your light daily?
- I practice sending my light out into the world before I leave the apartment. I think of all the people I will be in contact with, or haven’t met yet and send them my light.
- Letting go of my attachment to time. I am right on time all of the time.
- Being of service to others.
- Not taking myself so seriously
- Show Up
- Talk less, smile more.