Interview with Broadway Performer Brad Bradley
Q & A With Brad Bradley
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?
Brad: I went to college in LA at the University of Southern California. My major was theatre, but my emphasis was on acting. I am a musical theatre guy 100%, but my dancing and singing was all ready at a great skill level because I went to an amazing Junior high and High school called the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. ( Honestly I got more out of my High School than I did in that expensive college) .
When I applied to college I wanted to focus on my weaknesses, so acting and Shakespeare became my focus. There is nothing worse than seeing a Broadway musical that the character can’t handle a book scene. I also spent every summer of my youth and college years doing summer stock at a place called Starlight/SDCLO also in San Diego. This is where I refined the craft I learned in school. The leads were Union, so I learned what it was like to be around a professional work ethic. I started there at age 14. Learning to be Professional and to be good to work with is just as important as learning a double pirouette.
BB: As far as schooling what were some great attributes to studying there and/or some negatives if you are willing to offer that?
Brad: The best attribute I learned was discipline and to “take the note”. I so often see people arguing with dance captains and associates about things. I had a teachers that taught me the old school way, where you wore actual dance shoes and proper attire to class and rehearse. Sneakers and gym shorts would not be allowed. (This was before cell phones and God forbid gum chewing).
I think the biggest downfall of my college education is it didn't make me ready for the real world. They prepared you to be able to play King Lear, even if you are a Puck. I think finding what your type is and what you will actually get cast as and then honing that skill is something my college lacked. This is still a business, and you need to be able to market yourself.
BB: What is one thing that you learned while actively pursuing a NY stage career that you wish you would have known/learned before moving to the city that you could impart to others?
Brad: That sometimes being the best one at the audition doesn't get you the job. There are so many other factors that go into casting; Fitting the costumes,understudying, not right vocal part for the track, someone did the workshop and they are getting offered it, its a required call and they aren't looking. I took things so personal, when in fact not getting the part had nothing to do with talent. Another thing I learned is that casting directors are on our side. They want us to be good. It’ll make their life easier. They are not some evil breed sitting behind the table (although at times it appears that way)
BB: How was the transition from going from college to pursuing a NY career? What did you do to adjust/conquer NYC.
Brad: The first thing I did is not try to live above my means. Moving to NYC is so exciting and people want to live right in the heart of it all. Expenses and rent becomes so high people have to get a day job to pay for it. Then everything becomes about making money and auditioning and class goes on the back burner. I moved to Queens, and still live there. The desire to perform has to be the focus, not the allure of NYC. I also had a good circle of friends at that time that supported each other without resentments of success or failure. You need a safe place and a good ear to get through those first years. ( and a winter coat. the weather change took some time)
BB: How/when did you get your first Broadway job?
Brad: I was pretty lucky. I went to an open call for “A Christmas Carol” at Madison Square Garden my first week in NYC. It was the 2nd year of the run and they were only looking for 4 people. It was Susan Stroman’s show and she needed a certain specialty move, I was the one at the call back who could do it. That led me to get cast in the workshop of “Steel Pier” which ultimately led me to Opening night on Broadway.
BB: Can you offer a piece of audition advice?
Brad: The best advice for nerves is to be prepared. Don't wing it. Do your homework. Auditions never go as planned, so if your tool box is full you can handle whatever comes your way. Also think of auditions as a chance to perform and take risks. Once the pressure is added, the fun goes away. Remember we choose to do this career. (or it chooses us)
BB: What was/is your day job/other ventures in between gigs or do you do both simultaneously?
Brad: I haven't had to have a day job until the last couple years. I’ve gotten older and I’m not right for as much, plus my body won’t let me do as much. I fell into a job assisting a promoter/producer who does all types of events. It's creative in a different level and thats important. He is so flexible with my life Im so grateful. ( He jokes I should give up performing and work full time for him). I can't be stagnate even in my survival job. I do teach and choreograph here and there too. Anything that will throw money at me without a proper schedule, waiting tables, and office work I will do.
BB: Do you still train/work on your craft?
Brad: Absolutely I still train. The location always varies. Ballet class is always a go to for a period when I know I just need to refocus. I took a year of TV and film acting at 1 on 1 recently. I am very aware of my weaknesses, and they vary. Some months its vocal classes and other months its scene study. Lately I'm taking a lot of fitness and strengthening classes. It become about injury prevention as well. I can never stop learning, but at times I can't afford the classes and that's when free yoga class and by donation classes become awesome. I stay in the habit of always doing something to improve my craft. There is always something in musical theatre to work on. We are required to do so much now, and most times away from home. I don’t play a musical instrument or do circus tricks, and for some things Im an old dog.
BB: Any words of inspiration or anything else you want to say/impart?
Brad: Be honest with yourself when it comes to what you are right for. Know your your type.My mom wanted me to be a leading man, Im barely 5’8” and I dance, I’m a side kick. Be comfortable with your body type. Broadway isn't only made up of only showgirls and twinks. Realize that the talent pool is huge and it takes effort. Go to every thing you can and get used to rejection. The best from every small town is crammed into 22 square miles. Treat every job like its important. I've done some janky jobs, but they deserve just as much effort as the Broadway ones.Everything is paying dues. Be kind to everyone.
I've shared dressing rooms with guys that have become Tony winning Broadway directors and choreographers, and they have hired me because they know I'm easy to work with onstage and off. You've got to respect everyone. Your dresser is your best friend, not your servant. The assistant is your link to the creative staff, not some intern. People talk regardless, let them only have good things to say.
Mostly never let the love leave. This is a rough business, its going to get you down, the passion will get you back up.
A note from the editor: Brad actually just created a Podcast called Broadways Backbone with Brad Bradley on Sound Cloud https://soundcloud.com/brad-bradley-17/broadways-backbone-with-brad-bradley. Broadway’s Backbone is a podcast dedicated to the men and woman of the ensemble: the chorus of dancers, singers, and actors that are the foundation of every Broadway musical. These often-unsung gypsies are the hardest working people on the boards and are Broadways backbone. Each episode interviews a Broadway vet about their life, career and dreams, but also delves into the real topics that aren’t always shared. The life of a gypsy maybe full of passion, but not always filled with glamour. Each guest shares intimate details about their journey. There is no mud slinging, but a little dirt. It’s a real look into the life that so many kids dream of. This podcast is in honor of the folks of the ensemble and the people who plan to be them.
We here at Broadway Blogspot will be helping Brad get his podcast out into the world. You can also now check it out here.. make sure to click on the column on the homepage.
Bio: Broadway credits include the original casts of Spamalot, People in the Picture, Annie Get Your Gun (w/ Bernadette Peters & Reba McEntire), Thou Shalt Not and Steel Pier. Also, the closing Broadway cast of Billy Elliot. Brad starred as Patsy opposite Gary Beach’s & Richard Chamberlain’s King Arthur on the 1st National Tour of Spamalot. NYC-I am Harvey Milk, Chita: A Legendary Celebration. Off Broadway: Ernest in Love, A Christmas Carol(MSG), Cocoanuts. Recent regional- Bert in Mary Poppins, Spats in Sugar, and Phil in White Christmas. At age 12, Brad was a back up dancer for Michael Jackson in the Pepsi commercial.