“All the world’s a stage
and all the men and women merely players:
they have their exits and entrances
and one man in his time plays many parts…”
Last night, I found an interesting article by Arlene Schulman. Arlene has over 25 years of theatrical experience in NYC and NJ. She has directed many shows and has a passion for Shakespeare. I thought her information about Broadway actors was interesting
A Broadway actor is one who works on Broadway. There are very, very few of these. Broadway is a very small community with very few jobs that thousands of actors want. The way to become a Broadway actor – especially in musical theatre – is to:
1) work your tail off studying acting, voice and dance – only the very best get the chance to play Broadway;
2) work in lots of small professional and regional theatres outside NYC to earn your Equity card (Broadway does not hire non-Equity actors);
3) climb over everyone you know – Broadway is about business and status and prestige – it is a cutthroat business;
4) audition constantly – waiting all day for cattle calls were you get seen for 1 minute;
5) act in lots of unpaid NYC showcases in the hopes that you will be able to come to the attention of an agent who will want to represent you – most Broadway leads and supporting roles are cast by audition subnission by agents and are seldom available to unrepresented actors;
6) be prepared for years of rejection and disappointment – with thousands of actors auditioning for each role, many of which are precast anyway, the odds of getting cast are minimal and the more you are seen the better your chances;
7) network constantly all over NYC – getting cast in NYC is about who you know;
8) and be sure to find a good day job – living in NYC is very, very expensive and unless you are doing Broadway or Off-Broadway, most NYC theatre is unpaid or, at best, very minimally paid.
Acting, like any other profession – and more than most, requires in-depth training. And if you want a career in musical theatre then you must study acting, singing and dance. There was a time when a singer could take a lead in a Broadway musical, but more and more musicals require even the leads to be triple threats…And even more so for those not the leads.
If you are a professional, well-trained actor/singer it is possible to get musical roles without formal dance training, but you must be able to move well on stage – and that means more than just being able to walk gracefully. It means that you can learn dance moves, that you are familiar with the basic dance steps, that you can look like you are doing more complicated moves without actually dancing. But the more dance training you have, the more roles you will be eligible for. And if all you want to do is musical theatre, then you better be sure that you can do any role they throw at you, or you will never earn enough to eat.
Even actors who aim for all theatre, and film and tv as well, have no financial security. Less than 2% of all professional union actors are making a living as an actor. Most are working at day jobs while they pursue their acting career, and the unemployment rate in the acting community is over 95%! So if you are going to limit yourself to just a tiny portion of the acting field – musical theatre – then you better be sure that you are exceptionally talented, exceptionally well-trained, and able to do every part of your craft.
As far as how long to take acting and voice lessons – the simple answer is, that if you want to do this as a career, you will be taking voice and acting classes all your life.
Remember, acting is one of the most difficult professions there is .
When I read this, I thought of the talented Mr. Aiken who starred on Broadway and wowed the Broadway World. Yes…..he is very talented!!
The remarkable SueReu put together another wonderful video. Part 5 of her Clay Aiken – A Retrospective, features Clay and his many performances on Broadway.
Thank you, Sue, for another wonderful video.