Ok, you guys.. I have a slight…*MAJOR* obsession with this guy. Graham is as sweet as they come and every time I’m around him, it’s an absolute giggle fest. I interviewed him on Instastories for his feature and asked how he stays Fit for Broadway and his response… “Pizza!” followed by lots of laughter, if that’s an indication of his silliness. Graham has an awesome story that led him to the Great White Way. Also, did I mention his voice is like butterrrrrr and takes me back to my country roots! Soak it up guys, Graham is uber talented, fun, & FIT FOR BROADWAY!
NOTE FROM GRAHAM: Hello Fit For BROADWAY world! My name is Graham Scott Fleming and I am stoked to be sharing a piece of me and my journey with all of you! I’m a small town kid who lives for country music, family and a great laugh. From being a country singer, entering into the musical theatre world, this has been a very random and awesome experience that I would not trade for the world. Recent credits include: Broadway: Miss Saigon (Ensemble/ Chris cover) Canada: Kinky Boots (Charlie), Off-Broadway: Music City (TJ), National Tour: HAIR (Ensemble/ first guitar/ Claude & Berger cover). Regional: Smokey Joes Cafe (Michael), Next To Normal (Gabe), RENT (Roger), Avenue Q (Princeton/ Rod).
Q: Graham, you’re literally one of my favorite people and we’ve known each other maybe a total of 4 hours. We seriously have to hang out more : ) Ok but first interview time… Can we start from the beginning? What’s been your journey to Broadway?
A: Oh boy, well in 2011 I entered a singing competition called ‘The North of Nashville Star’ where I ended up coming first place WOHOO. From there I continued writing my own music, and was given many opportunities to perform with/ open for some Country Music superstars! I truly at this point was not sure exactly what I wanted to do as I was pretty young. I ended up attending the University of Windsor for a program called Drama and Education where I learned to teach curriculum using drama. I LOVED what I was doing, that program is brilliant and world renowned, but when I was given the opportunity to audition for a production of RENT in Toronto, I could not turn it down! I ended up booking the show, my FIRST semi- professional gig I was ecstatic, literally jumping up and down everywhere. Being in that city, being around performers, being apart of that cast that felt like a family, and the first time singing on that stage for an audience was a feeling I could NEVER forget. Yes is I am a University Drop out but for no other reason then to truly chase this dream, and burning passion I had to be on that stage. Nope, my parents were not to happy about that situation, coming from a town where everyone goes to college or university or falls into the family business, it wasn’t an easy concept to understand. They never gave up on me though, ever. They were always there and behind my decisions.
Let me tell you though, it was NOT EASY, from singing at weddings for free, doing some community theatre for free, while searching for a job constantly, that would allow me to rehearse and audition, the struggle was real. I spent three years barely surviving to pay rent and afford food for the week, constantly in my head if this was a smart choice. I had doubts, I had fear, I wanted to give up, I went through all the emotions and feelings. I then heard about this theatre called The Lower Ossington Theatre in Toronto, and they were holding auditions for Legally Blonde, thought I’d give it a chance and booked the understudy Warner and I played Grand Master Chad. This company basically took me on for their season and I truly feel they raised me, gave me the musical theatre schooling I never had. I had people supporting me, pushing me, helping me grow as a performer and as a human. The money situation was still tight though and I alternated from ushering at the theatre to performing/ bar tending at another bar just to be able to eat and pay rent. I saw a posting in the theatre that they were holding a cattle call audition for the 2014 National Tour of HAIR, AND that the performers would also be the band. I play guitar so I got super excited. I kind of took this as my last chance, I told my self if I don’t book this one, I think I need to reconsider school. YALL I BOOKED IT! My thought process completely switched I was now saying “THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT ANYTHING WILL GET IN MY WAY!”
46 states in 5 months on a bus later, the Tour closed but I was selected from the tour to work on a show with a couple others in the cast in Pennsylvania, we were kind of fill ins for an equity production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. (I’m sorry this is so long). The director of this production was working on his own show that he wrote at the same time, a country rock musical. Guys and girls, a COUNTRY ROCK MUSICAL, I didn’t even know that existed! He asked us to audition for him at that theatre just to see, why not right. After a couple times in the room with him, he asked if I could come to NYC for a callback! MY FIRST NYC AUDITION. After a four hour callback, I was taken out for drinks by the team, at 12 am it was my birthday, he raised a glass and in front of everyone asked me if I would play the lead of his show that would be presented at the Signature Theatre in the New York Musical Theatre Festival! WHATTT BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! Okay I should speed this up.. I did the festival had a complete blast, headed back to Canada. Mirvish is basically the Broadway in Canada, and when I found out they were holding auditions for the upcoming sit down of Kinky Boots, I got my agent on that asap, though I didn’t know much about it or if I was right for it in anyway, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass. I ended up getting a slot, I was called in to be an angel. I sang ‘In This Corner’, the casting director then replied with “you are not an angel” HA and gave me sides for Charlie, Richard Bailey and Harry. I came back the room and read, was then asked to leave the room because the casting director was allergic to cologne. As I was standing there so awkward and confused she said it’s okay you have a call back, just, don’t wear cologne next time. Y’all I went back in, no deodorant no nothing. In total I had 6 auditions! Every time I got asked to come back in I got more nervous but more excited! I was given the chance to sing for a legend, Jerry Mitchel. I thought to my self “at this point there are going to book someone with a name, I haven’t really done much why would they cast me” it didn’t stop me from belting my face off though I gave EVERYTHING I had, left my soul on that floor. A week later I got a call from my agent, letting me know that I was cast as Charlie Price. THREE HOURS, for THREE HOURS I ran around the apartment not sure what to do, so I just screamed. Okay maybe it was three weeks what ever, I was excited. Mr. Jerry Mitchell took a chance on this small town kid, and I am forever grateful for that. I got to meet Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein, and a cast and crew that changed my life forever. Playing Charlie was an incredible experience and a career highlight for sure, it also gave me a chance to start working on my originals again!
After Kinky Boots, I wrote my first EP, ‘Young Wild & Free’ check it out on Spotify, Amazon, YouTube or what ever lol. I also lucked out last minute booking my first movie on the Hallmark Channel. Not only was I stoked to do my first movie, they also found out I wrote music and asked me to write some songs for the movie! I ended up writing a song called ‘Love You Like Christmas’, it was selected to be in the movie, annnnndddddd they changed the name of the movie TO MY TITLE! WHAAAT!
Okay back track moment, near the end of Kinky Boots, the casting team of Miss Saigon came to Toronto and held auditions for the upcoming Broadway revival. The funny part to me is I once wanted to sing WHY GOD in a concert and I was told I will NEVER play that role and to not sing it in the concert. I didn’t. This was my chance to push my limits, break down a wall, and work for my self and my own confidence. I worked my ass off learning the music, went in and sang for my life. Stephen Brooker, the brilliant man in charge of the music for our show, played around with me and the songs, checking range etc. I had a blast! They made me feel so comfortable in that room. On my drive home, I was asked to attend a dance call the next day. Y’all I am no dancer, I can move and I will drill choreography to learn it, but safe to say I was freaking out. The dance call happened, and I guess I didn’t completely fail, they asked me if I would fly down to be seen by the director. Again, another freak out moment, after my 8th show of Kinky Boots flew down to NYC, after the matinee and spent the night in a hotel freaking the hell out, my first Broadway audition!! 2, 20 minute workshops on Monday, and three work sessions on Tuesday I was offered my first Broadway show! I got the call while running on a treadmill, it was basically YouTube fail worthy as I almost face planted on the treadmill. Now I am here, legit living a dream on Broadway! Wow sorry for the novel.
Q: How have health and fitness been intertwined into your journey as a performer?
A: Oy vey, well I have Crohns Disease so it really hasn’t been the easiest process. I was diagnosed in 2009 and it really is a terrible process. My case is non textbook so they really didn’t know how to treat it, I was put on 11 pills a day, which was driving me crazy, this was all while I was in University so it only added to the stress. It was really bad, I was in and out of the hospital all the time. It is truly all about diet, learning what you can and cannot eat. Unfortunately for me, raw veggies, even cooked veggies do not work for me, seafood, chocolate and nuts are my triggers. It was a struggle, my weight was constantly fluctuating, and it took a while for me to figure out a healthy balance of working out and eating as healthy as my body would allow. I am proud to say I have figured out what works and what doesn’t and, what I need to be doing to remain in shape, especially for this physically demanding job.
Q: You’re a full time athlete on Broadway. What are your top 3 tips for conditioning your mind and body for your job each day?
- Working out/ yoga and or exercising
Q: Any other holistic practices to stay #BalancedOnBroadway?
A: Take up a hobby! Learn something new! I have so far learned to knit, and am currently learning ASL!
Q: I saw you doing a little pre-show fitness warmup on your instastory takeover for Miss Saigon’s account. Can you give us your backstage workout secrets? Maybe a sample workout for our training for Broadway buddies?
A: Before every show, at half hour I am changed and ready to go. I go up to the stage, and I start off with some stretching and warming up the body. I then do some lower body workouts (squats, lunges, fire hydrants, volleyball, jumps etc.), then I move on to some ab workouts (planks, in and outs, Russian twists etc.) At the 15 minute call I lay on the stage and close my eyes, do some light meditation to get me mentally prepared for the show. At places there is a group of us who since day one have done a group workout. These workouts range from push-ups, to leg workouts, cardio, butt exercises (gotta get that bubble butt), group massages, and group hugs! At this point I’m ready to do a 2.45 hour musical!
Q: Fill in the blanks…
A: The best part of working on Broadway is… not only working with some of the greatest musical theatre performers there are, but the amazing feeling of love and family the cast creates with each other. Also the feeling I get knowing that in one way or another, an audience member is affected by what I do on that stage, by what WE do.
The most challenging part of working on Broadway is… being away from my friends and family and my puppy George home in Canada! I am lucky to have the cast as my American family who are always there for me.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Anyone with drive and passion. Who is unapologetic for their love.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring performers who have their sights set on Broadway?
A: Work your ass off, and do it for you! Never change who you are to fit a mold, you are the only person who can do what YOU do specifically, you are unique to the world, so let us see it!!
Q: BROADWAY INSPIRES ME TO BE _____________________.
A: Broadway inspires me to BE Strong. In mind and body, it pushes my limits and I can be a tough business, but not if your strong enough to kick the business in the ass 🙂