As performers here in the world of New Jersey community theater, we recognize that we are surrounded by other really good actors and actresses. So in order for us to stand out from the rest of these people, we need not just be good community theater actors, but GREAT community theater actors.
Not sure how to go about doing this? No problem! I am here to help. Grab a notepad and a shot of Jack Daniels (which is “hot tea” for great New Jersey community theater actors) and check out these 15 simple tips to become the greatest New Jersey community actor EVER.
Tip #15: Don’t Ever Showcase Weakness
Go out and audition as much as possible. And while you’re in the waiting room, do your vocal warm-ups as loud and confidently as possible. Not doing this in front of your competition showcases weakness, and nobody will respect you. (Repeating “Mommy made me mash my M&M’s” over and over and over again is a great way to meet new friends and establish community theater authority.)
Tip #14: If You Don’t Get the Role You Want, Don’t Do The Show
“The ensemble is just as important as the lead characters.” You know who said that? Somebody in the ensemble. Great New Jersey community theater actors don’t do ensemble – EVER. If you get offered ensemble, laugh and respond with a sarcastic “thank you but something suddenly came up” e-mail.
Tip #13: If You Weren’t a Lead in Your Highschool Shows, JUST GIVE UP NOW
If you couldn’t get a lead amongst your underling classmates in highschool, what makes you think you’re good enough to make it in New Jersey community theater? Ew. Just give up now. You’re not talented enough to make it. Hot tea and a voice lesson ain’t gonna help you. Go do a show in Pennsylvania or something. (Pennsylvania Community Theatre: “It’s just like NJ community theater, minus the talent.”)
Tip #12: Find Out if the Perry Award People are In the Audience – If So, HAM IT UP
The Perry Awards are the World Cup of New Jersey community theater actors. You want to prove your worth? Win a Perry. If you don’t have one, most NJ community theaters will refuse to accept your claim to be an actor and IMMEDIATELY put you in the ensemble. And we already know how we feel about the ensemble. (Yucky.) So if the Perry people are in the audience – make everything as big and obnoxiously loud as possible. Sing out Louise, overacting is your friend.
Tip #11: Scene Partner? There’s No Such Thing. Only the Strongest Survive
For the sake of this tip, let’s just pretend that “scene partner” is an accepted term in NJ community theater. So many people are like, “Blah blah blah, your ‘scene partner’ is important too, blah blah blah.” If you ever hear anyone say that, slap them with your Samuel French script and walk out of the room you’re claiming to be a rehearsal space. Who cares what your “scene partner” is thinking and feeling? Your “scene partner” should be working off of you – ALWAYS. If they complain that you’re not giving them anything to work with, fake apologize to them, and then go talk s*** about them while you’re in the parking lot after rehearsal.
Tip #10: There is Subtext in EVERY Line of Dialogue – So Play it Up
C’mon, all the great actors of New Jersey community theater find the subtext of every line and play it up. If a line has even the smallest hint of sexual innuendo, immediately grab your “scene partner’s” buttocks.
Tip #9: “Acting is Behaving Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances” – B.S.
Behaving truthfully? Whatever. Just show up to rehearsal, read your lines, and go home. What more do they want from you? Ugh…
Tip #8: ALWAYS Break the 4th Wall
No matter what show you’re doing, you ALWAYS want to find a moment to break the 4th wall. Not sure what the 4th wall is? Well, it’s that “imaginary wall” stupid people tell you exists in order to restrict you and your potential award winning performance. Don’t listen to that crap. Your dialogue with the audience is even more important than your dialogue with your “scene partner”.
Tip #7: Always Do the Same Thing as the Actor or Actress on the Cast Recording
They are professional Broadway actors and actresses for a reason. Do every note, riff, acting choice, and line of dialogue just like they do it on the cast recording. Trust me, you’ll go far.
Tip #6: Saying “Umm” and Stuttering Through Your Line Isn’t a Bad Thing
Some people say that you should be confident with your lines during rehearsals and performances. Those people are the ones that need to have their laminated MTI script cover page shoved down their throat, cause they don’t know what they’re talking about. Saying “umm” and stuttering through your line keeps the audiences guessing and on their toes as to what you’re going to say.
Tip #5: Fart On Stage Whenever You Can
Leave a surprise pocket of air-shart on the stage as you’re exiting for the people that are entering to walk into. It might make them better actors. (Not as good as you, of course.)
Tip #4: Don’t Give Matinee Audiences the Same Performances as Evening Performance Audiences
Matinee performances are usually full of old people. They don’t deserve the same performance energy as the people who come to the evening performances. Plus, you went out and got white-girl-wasted at Applebee’s last night after the evening show, the matinee is just getting in the way of your sobering-up.
Tip #3: Never Talk To or Associate Yourself with Your Understudy
First and foremost, New Jersey community theater doesn’t believe in understudies. Secondly, if you DO have one, refuse to accept the fact that they exist as a human being. Or do what I do and pretend like they’re always speaking a weird African language nobody understands. Just ignore them. (If you want to get REALLY drastic, delete them off of Facebook … which is something you should have done immediately after finding out they were your understudy.)
Tip #2: Dairy Products are Your Friends, NOT Your Enemy
The whole “dairy products are bad for your singing voice” is an excuse invented by ensemble-dwellers who aren’t good enough to be leads like you. Eat as much cheese as you want before the show, if anything, it’ll make you sound better. (Also, it might even help you with Tip #5.)
Tip #1: Don’t Take This List Seriously
Really. Please, don’t. If you do, then you’re this guy —————->
Kyrus is a native of Hamilton, New Jersey, studied Theatre at Mercer County Community College, and is a proud graduate of Westminster School of the Performing Arts at Rider University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art Theatre. Kyrus is a proud Actor’s Equity Candidate.
Ky studied vocally with the extremely talented and very resourceful Steven Schnurman, a graduate of The Julliard School of NY. For more information on Steven Schnurman, please visit his website at http://www.voicelessonsnj.com/ today!
His stage credits include: Tours: George Street Playhouse Educational Touring Company (Repertory Actor), Chuckleball (2010 Touring Company). NY Off-Broadway: A River’s Current (New York Theatre Workshop). Regional Credits: Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (“Black” – Ritz Theatre NJ), Hairspray (“Seaweed” – Broadway Theatre of Pitman), Rent (“Benny” – TriArts Sharon Playhouse). Recent Credits: Shrek the Musical (Donkey), Legally Blonde (Emmett), Avenue Q (Nicky), Pippin (Leading Player), Ragtime (Coalhouse), Assassins (Balladeer), Macbeth (Macbeth), Once On This Island (Agwe), Rocky Horror (Rocky Horror), Seussical (Cat in the Hat), Spelling Bee (Mitch), Forum (Hero).