If you read Empowering Your Relationship, you’re familiar with how awesome of a human Chris is, from his talent on Broadway to his big heart! He is so inspiring because he never seems to stop expanding his talent and is always working towards new goals, both personally and professionally. I admire his character as much as his work and see how much light he brings to everyone around him. In line with the theme this week, I can’t imagine a more vibrant, wonderful person to feature! Chris is Fit for Broadway!
Read Chris’s Bio HERE.
Q: Chris, I’m so excited to hear about your personal journey after interviewing you and Clay about Empowering each other! 🙂 How did you initially get into musical theater/performance?
A: I grew up in a church that had a huge Fine Arts ministry so I was exposed to ballet and Broadway-style musicals at an early age. I think I realized that you could make a living doing “this” when I saw the national tour of Beauty and the Beast in junior high. I became obsessed with the production and just wanted to do what they were doing- high scale productions that left audiences in awe.Q: Has fitness always been an importance part of performance and your life in general?
A: I grew up as a skinny kid. I remember watching regional productions of “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Chicago” that had professional, fit actors and thinking to myself “No one will hire me when they can hire someone who looks like that!” This is coming from 100lb, 16-year-old me. So, I always knew that I would need to gain weight just to be castable. I got extremely serious about weight training and weight-gain towards the end of college. I went from 130lbs to 160lbs my senior year. Fitness and maintenance has been a big part of my life ever since.
Q: What challenges did you face along your journey to Broadway? Did you ever doubt yourself?
A: I had several pretty tough years. Senior year of high school, I audition for around 12 musical theatre programs around the country. I got rejected from all but 2 schools. One of the schools was sort of a last resort and the other was unfortunately out of my price range. I ended up going to a different school, the University of Oklahoma, for Acting. My goal was to be an Acting major and transfer into the Musical Theatre program my sophomore year. I took as many classes as possible to prepare myself, worked on several of the musicals, and gave it my all in my audition, but was wait-listed.
I fortunately found out on the LAST day of school that someone had chosen to go elsewhere and there was now a slot for me in the program! I was thrilled. Honestly though, my work had just begun! Many people just did not believe I was cut out for the business and told me I was never going to be able to do this or that. It was hard.
I also had a lot of trouble feeling accepted in the program because many students knew I had been both rejected and wait listed… I felt like an outsider. My voice teacher, Mariann, really believed in me. She really helped push me, build my confidence, and really inspired me. She made me feel like I could succeed when others didn’t. I am so thankful I had her in my life at such a tough time. To make a long story a little shorter, I worked my butt off and worked my way up to higher level classes. I kept pushing myself, taking more than just the required level of classes and upon graduation I really felt ready to go for it in NYC.
Once you start working as a professional in the city, you find there are new sets of obstacles. Its just about taking them as they come and keeping a positive attitude.
Q: How does living a healthy lifestyle improve your performance career? —And was there a job or time when you really understood the importance of fitness and health in your work?
A: I think staying in shape and making healthy choices is the only way to make an 8 show week possible. I am continually reminded of the importance of fitness in this business- and not just in the way you look (even though its unfortunately a rather important part of the biz as well). My cast gets to work with fantastic physical therapists from Physioarts, a clinic here in the city that works in-house with different Broadway casts to help treat and prevent injuries, who have helped me focus on weaker areas of my body. Some people really just want those six pack abs. My PTs have taught me a lot about the muscles we don’t see and how you need to strengthen those to maintain a healthy and balanced body.
Q: I am obsessed with your tap videos!! How did that start? And how has it added fulfillment outside of your life on Broadway?
A: I am so glad you have seen them! Thanks for checking them out. They started as a small backstage project to keep me busy when I wasn’t on stage at The Book of Mormon. I was listening to Anna Kendrick sings Cups and thought it would be cool to have tappers tap the drum beat instead of using cups. I taught it to some friends, filmed it, edited it, and posted it on my Facebook wall. 24-hours later it had 55 thousand views and a week later it had over a million!
The success we saw and the responses we received from that video inspired me to create more tap videos and it has been a blast. Don’t get me wrong- it is a LOT of work, but it is a lot of fun too. It’s so nice to have other artistic projects in addition to my great gig at Mormon because it keeps me fueled, fulfilled, and imaginative!
Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: Be nice to people. Seriously. No one will want to work with you if you have an ego. The business is small. Just don’t be a jerk.
Also, learn all you can! Youtube wasn’t around when I was growing up (I feel so old!), but there are full shows online to watch. Do it! Know what’s out there. Learn from it! Youtube is a tool I didn’t have growing up so soak it up, you kiddos! 😉
Q: Quote to live by…
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you’ll be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
Q: How are you proactive about making your life more vibrant day to day?
A: I try to make other people smile. If its a new tap video, a hug, or helping someone carry their baby stroller up the stairs on the subway… whatever I can do to make someone else’s day more vibrant has a special way of making yours more vibrant too.