Chad is doing double-duty, playing both Elvis and Toby the dog in The Art of Living. Here, we asked him a few questions about musicals, the show, and what trick he uses to get ready before a show.
Q: What was your first acting experience?
A: My first acting experience came when I was in 5th grade. I was cast as Daddy Warbucks in the school production of Annie. You can imagine the challenge I faced as a little kid with a head full of black hair and a little kid voice attempting to play an old, bald billionaire. Needless to say, I was no Albert Finney. I did learn, however, that I love to perform. My theater addiction was born!
Q: What’s your favorite show?
A: I don’t think I have a favorite show. As much as I love being involved in theatrical productions, I must say that I’m really not an avid theater-goer. I did see Motown the Musical on Broadway and that blew me away. I grew up listening to and loving Motown, so to see the songs brought to life in that fashion was truly an unforgettable experience!
Q: What is your favorite thing about performing in a musical?
A: My favorite thing about performing in a musical is the interaction with the audience. There’s nothing like feeling that relationship with an audience take shape and evolve throughout a performance. Whether it be a drama or a comedy or my personal favorite, both, the audience has invested themselves in the performance, which for me creates a certain amount of responsibility to deliver a worthy performance. You can tell when an audience is really feeding into the show. It’s a very rewarding experience.
Q: What is your favorite thing about community theater?
A: Community theater brings out such a diverse group of people all striving to achieve the same thing. We take time away from the “real world” to escape into this fantasy land where we can all play pretend for a few hours a night. I’ve met so many great people from different walks of life since I started being involved in community theater. You could have a nurse or a teacher or a social worker by day, but when they get on stage they transform into whatever character they are representing. It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness. To sum up what I love about community theater: It’s all about the camaraderie between the cast and crew and the passion that people have for the arts.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the process?
A: I think my favorite part of the process is the time between the first dress rehearsal and opening night. I’ve been involved in a number of shows that have seemed doomed on the night of the first dress and in three or four days blossomed into this complete and realized vision ready for the audience to see. It always seems like a daunting and impossible task, but we are always able to pull it off. It never ceases to amaze me how much can be accomplished in such a short amount of time when the whole team is working together and seeking that common goal of a great show!
Q: What’s your favorite place inside a theater building?
A: The stage. Hands down. You create this little environment and dive in. There’s nothing like waiting in the wings and hearing those lines or the music cues that let you know that it’s about time for you to get on stage. It gives me the butterflies just thinking about it.
Q: Do you have any particular techniques you rely on for getting into character?
A: I rely heavily on my fellow actors because so much of acting is really reacting. Once you have your lines down and you know where you need to be onstage, then it’s just a matter of making it believable and genuine with the other actors. For me, being in costume helps tremendously as well! I do have one pre-game ritual that I always do before a show. Before I get into costume, I always lie on the stage and listen to Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place”. It’s something that my cousin and I started years ago and it’s stuck with me. Once I listen to that song a couple of times, I’m ready to go!
Q: Is there anything about playing Toby and Elvis that has you particularly excited?
A: I’m thrilled to be able to play Toby again. There’s something about hopping into this huge dog costume and having my face painted in such a way that I’m unrecognizable to myself that just makes it so much fun! He’s such a well written character too. I had so much fun playing Toby the first time that we performed this show that I was extremely grateful to be cast in this role again. Elvis scares me a little, to be perfectly honest. He’s such an icon that I feel a huge responsibility to get it right. From the voice to the mannerisms and physicality, everyone has an idea and expectation of the way the King should be. I’ll try my best to pull it off!
Chad is beyond excited to be returning to The Art of Living for its revival at the historic Strand in Plattsburgh. It’s truly an honor for him to be involved in this production once again with so many familiar faces and with some great new additions to the AOL family. Chad cannot wait for our community, far and wide, to experience this incredible, original production. A big shout out to Dan and Liane for getting the “band” back together. AOL “17 here we come!!