Broadway or Runaway?

The notorious question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” has resulted in spirited answers from young children such as an astronaut, a race car driver, or a president.  These young children have been encouraged to follow their fantasies of achieving their “dream job” no matter how unobtainable it may be.  However, as they grow older and realize that their dream may not become a reality, they change their focus to obtaining a more realistic job.

One seemingly unobtainable career path is being on Broadway. The Broadway industry typically demands more than just a high school or college transcript. Some would say that it is harder than getting into general college because there must be an immense amount of preparation for auditions and individuals have to prepare resumes and portfolios.

The question begs: why go into such a financially unstable and difficult field?  For both Grasser and Webster, it is their pure love of theatre that overshadows the perseverance, talent, and luck it takes to become an active member in this profession.

Each individual audition has numerous applicants who can all sing, dance, or act, perhaps all three, perfectly.  It does not necessarily matter if the individual is perfect on his or her resume.  As long as the individual fits the vision that the casting director has, they will have a better opportunity of being hired.  The intricacies of one’s build, hair color, or height may be the deciding factor if they get the role or not.

“It doesn’t always matter how good you are,” said senior Lana Grasser. “Everyone is good…It comes down what your look or fit is for the show.”

A vital part of being on Broadway is having an Equity card.  This is important since Broadway does not hire non-Equity actors.  This card works on a point system and points can only be achieved by being in roles that count towards Equity.  This is difficult because there is constant rejection in this business and there is the continual waiting for auditions calls and callbacks.

Perhaps the most important part of the Broadway industry is networking.  Broadway is located in Central New York City and it all about who you know.  It is about getting seen and making a name for oneself to catch the eye of an agent or casting director.

Lastly, while waiting for a big break, an individual must be able to keep up with his or her  expensive bills of living in New York and classes to improving their talent with a side job.

If the rare opportunity comes to participate in Broadway, the role may not have the same job security that a normal day job may have.  No sick days may be taken unless a member is severely ill because, as the saying goes, “the show must go on” and there will always be a replacement.  It is a tough and competitive industry.  In addition to the questionable job security, paychecks on Broadway do not exactly make a wallet fat.

“Broadway is unrealistic and impractical,” said junior Lindsay Webster.  “A backup plan is a must if you’re thinking about pursuing theatre.”

According to Arlene Schulman, a stage director, less than 2 percent of all professional union actors are making a living as an actor.  In fact, the unemployment rate in the acting community is over 95 percent.

“Being able to take on completely different characters and tell a story to an audience is so exhilarating,” said Webster.  “I want to be a part of something as incredible and prestigious as a Broadway show.”