Q & A with Alison Cimmet
BB: Where did you got to college for theatre and/learn the trade in order to move to NYC to pursue theatre as a career?
AC: I grew up doing a ton of community theater and taking local acting classes and singing lessons. I spent my summers at acting programs (Stagedoor Manor and Northwestern "cherubs" program) and singing programs (classical singing at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute). I decided not to go to an acting conservatory for college because I wanted to be friends with lots of different kinds of people, not just actors, and I wanted to learn across many disciplines. I went to Brown University because it had a great theater program but also an incredible variety of other fields to learn about.
BB: As far as schooling/training what were some great attributes to studying there?
AC: I loved Brown because the student body was diverse, curious, ambitious, hard-working, and brilliant. And the professors were extraordinary. Not only did I major in theater and do the excellent departmental shows, but I participated in seemingly endless student-run productions, worked backstage building sets and costumes, and also took numerous classes in a variety of other disciplines. It was a very well-rounded education, which I feel has led me to being not only a better actor but also better with the business side of theater, and has helped me be a better team-player in general. It was the right choice for me. That being said, I did not have a "showcase" nor any help getting an agent, learning about headshots or how to audition, or any of that stuff that conservatory grads have a leg up with when they first come to New York. I had zero business skills/resources and it was a long, slow journey building my career, possibly because of that.
BB: What is one thing that you learned while actively pursuing a NY stage career that you wish you would have known before moving to the city?
AC: I wish I had asked for help and guidance earlier! I was very reluctant to seek out mentorship or let it be known how green and clueless I was.
BB: How was the transition from going from college to pursuing a NY career?
AC: As I said before, it was a bit of a bumpy road transitioning from college to a professional career. I didn't know what resources there were or how to find them. This was a while back, though, and now everything is a lot more accessible online. That being said, I think figuring out everything for myself made me a pretty tough cookie!
BB: How/when did you get your first Broadway job?
AC: When I got my first Broadway show (Mrs. Cruncher in "A Tale of Two Cities") I actually traced back the steps of how I got there. It started with a director/MD that my family worked with at a community theater in Portland, Maine. He was incredibly supportive and kind. In college, he helped me get a summer stock job playing Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress". My co-star in that production introduced me to his then-girlfriend, who happened to be an assistant with a casting office. She asked me to be a reader for auditions for an off-Broadway show which is where I met Warren Carlyle who was the choreographer on the project. I wrote him a thank-you note after those audition sessions because he had been particularly lovely to me. Because of the thank-you note and because he remembered I was funny in the auditions, he later called me in (and cast me) as Sally Cato in "Mame" at the Kennedy Center. A year or so after that, I saw his name on a EPA listing for "A Tale of Two Cities" and emailed him to ask him for an appointment, which he granted. I went through several auditions and callbacks and booked the job! (Side note - Warren later cast me in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and also "She Loves Me"!!!!)
BB: Can you offer a piece of audition advice?
AC: First of all, prepare as best you can. Then, do your best work, and LET IT GO as soon as you leave the room, even though that's incredibly difficult sometimes. If you choked, forgive yourself and let it go. If you nailed it, pat yourself on the back and let it go. If you were unprepared, let it go (and try to do better next time). Be kind to yourself. Know that it's hardly ever personal, and that there are many factors that go into casting beyond just talent. Stay positive. Follow up with a thank-you note. Keep at it.
BB: What was/is your day job or other ventures in between gigs or do you do both simultaneously?
AC: At first I waited tables, then I worked as a temp at a gazillion different random offices. After that for a couple years I free-lanced as an American Sign Language interpreter. Once that was taking over too much of my schedule and my energy, I started my own craft business selling hand-crafted cards, wallets, etc. to local boutiques and online. Around the time I had children it was too much to juggle the children AND the craft business AND my acting career. Luckily around that same time I started booking TV commercials fairly regularly, and that became my bread and butter between theater/film/tv jobs. Now I also do audition coaching on the side as well as professional organizing, but my main focus is theater, film, tv, commercials, and voiceovers. I'm very lucky that I can make a living just acting, but it was a long road to this point! Don't give up!
BB: Do you still train/work on your craft?
AC: ABSOLUTELY. I still study singing. I took acting classes for years at The Actors Center (now closed), and at Cay Michael Patten Studios. I coach on almost every audition (shout out to my colleague and coach Steve Rosen - he's amazing!!!). I studied VoiceOver acting with Ed Lewis and on-camera technique with Bob Krakower. During lulls between jobs I get a group of friends together to read a play, just to keep my creative juices flowing. Always always always keep working on your craft!
BB: Any words of inspiration or anything else you want to say/impart?
AC: Be kind. Be kind to others as well as to yourself. If this is what you truly want, GO FOR IT. It takes a lot of guts and a lot of hustle and a lot of resilience. If you're not happy and you want to pursue something else, that's ok too! It takes courage to say goodbye to a long-held dream and move on to something else that will actually bring you joy. Also, try to celebrate the success of your peers. There's room for everyone. Lastly, in the spirit of what I said earlier (that I wish I had asked more questions and found more mentors early on), please feel free to reach out to me if you need any help or advice or guidance! I can be found on social media @AlisonCimmet and my email is Alison@AlisonCimmet.com
Alison Cimmet grew up in Portland, Maine, where she worked at various community theatres in the area. Her theatrical debut was as a green baby leprechaun in "Finian's Rainbow" at the age of 6.
Alison holds a Theatre Arts degree from Brown University, where she was the Weston Award recipient for outstanding acting. She has also studied acting at Northwestern summer conservatory ("cherubs"), Stagedoor Manor, The Actors Center, Cay Michael Patten Studios, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. She has studied voice and vocal performance at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and with Marianne Challis, Craig Carnelia, and Steve Sweetland.
You may have seen her hard at work in her "day job" in various television commercial spots including Staples, Ikea, Cheerios, Orbitz, Havertys, AOL, Cascade, Marriott, Boarshead, and Comedy Central.
Alison currently resides in New York where she actively works in theatre, film, and television. Her husband David is a computer engineer, her 11-year-old son Max is a genius, and her 9-year-old son Gavin also happens to be a genius.
BROADWAY: She Loves Me, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Bonnie & Clyde , Baby It’s You! , A Tale of Two Cities , Chance & Chemistry (Actors Fund Benefit).
Visit www.AlisonCimmet.com for more info!
Into the Woods
(Fiasco Theater @ The Old Globe)
with Ben Steinfeld and Jessie Austrian
Bonnie & Clyde
with Marissa McGowan
Mrs. Cruncher in
A Tale of Two Cities
with Tim Hartman
She Loves Me
Roundabout Theatre Company