BWW Interview: PIPPIN's Kyle Dean Massey Talks the Benefits of Broadway Coaching Through Stagelighter.com
Making it in this business is tough. Why go it alone? Stagelighter.com is the premiere online resource which lets actors from around the world get personal feedback and advice from leading Broadway professionals.
Stagelighter coaches include Victoria Clark (performer/director, Tony Award for Best Leading Actress The Light in the Piazza), Rebecca Luker
(3-time Tony Award nominee), Michael McElroy (Grammy and Tony Award nominee), Shoshana Bean (performer Wicked), Christiane Noll (performer
Ragtime), Kyle Dean Massey (performer Wicked, Next to Normal), Telly Leung (performer Godspell, Rent), top Broadway casting directors (Rachel Hoffman of Telsey + Company), agents (Jim Daly of Bloc NYC) and many more.
Massey, who is currently starring on Broadway as the title character in Pippin, recently chatted with BroadwayWorld about the revolutionary new resource and why it's worth it for performers to take advantage of its services. Check out the full interview below!
For those who are unfamiliar, how does Stagelighter work?
It's an online coaching tool for any kind of aspiring musical theatre performer or actor. It's a resource for people to get in touch with New York-based professionals and get direct feedback on their performances. It's all done online, so if you can't get to New York to do workshops and things like that, you can still get the chance to work with a wide variety of different people- there are actors, casting directors, professors from different schools...there so many different kinds of coaches that people can chose from.
So all you have to do is upload a video. Then we watch it, and we have several coaching points that we go through. I do video feedback, so it's very personal. It's almost like one-on-one coaching but done on the Internet.
How did you become involved?
The founder of the website approached me directly. I've taught at a lot of different workshops and things throughout the city over the years, and I guess my name kept coming up as someone that people were requesting. So yeah, he approached me about it and I became a part of the faculty, if you will!
How does the process work from the user's perspective? Do they get to pick who they will be interacting with?
Yes, all you have to do is go to Stagelighter.com and you can see an entire list of the coaches. From there you can filter it based on whether you'd like to work with actors or casting people or directors, and so on. But there, you can check out our headshot and bio listing our credits, and from there hopefully each student can find the right fit for what they are looking for.
A lot of performers open admit that they dread auditioning. Do you enjoy the process?
I do enjoy it! It's an interesting business in that you get into it because you want to perform, but you have to be able to audition to be able to get the job to perform. I know that it's very scary at first, but it's not something that they usually teach. When you go to theatre school, it's not something that is really focused on. You have to learn to love it, and I do! I look at it as an opportunity to sing for people, and have fun, and have their undivided attention. I try to look at it that way.
Do you have any especially horrific audition stories?
Oh SURE I do, are you kidding me?! When you are going to hundreds of auditions a year, you're gonna have some off days [Laughs]. You're gonna get in a room and realize, "Wow, this material really isn't clicking with me."
I have a good one though... years ago I got a script of a new musical that I read and said, "Oh, well this is obviously a comedy. It's so over-the-top, it's a farce." So there wasn't a lot of extra information because it was a new show and there wasn't a real breakdown of what the show was. I go in and perform it crazy and wacky and they were like, "Ummm... Okay, well try that again. And this time it's completely serious." So you go in sometimes and make a bold choice and it is REALLY wrong [Laughs]. But for every one of those there is a flip side. You go in and make a bold choice that they hadn't thought of and they are drawn to you. You take risks and some times you crash and burn, but other times they pay off!
What piece of advice do you find yourself giving often?
I think that one thing that I usually say is very general, and I tell people over and over again: it's just to breathe. When you get to an audition usually people get nervous and the first thing to go is breathing. I always say, "You're playing a real person and real people breathe!" People lock up a lot and it's just nerves. It's such an involuntary action in everyday life, but when you're acting you have to consciously remember to breathe. That's a basic thing that I am ALWAYS telling people. I know it sounds crazy and simple but it's true!
Is there a piece of advice that you were given that you still try to live by?
Someone once gave me the advice that auditions are really like a private party for you. I really like that advice because they ARE scary. You walk into a blank, cold room with a line of people sitting behind a table ready to judge you. But it's all in how you look at it. You kind of need to look at it from their perspective though. They are excited to see you. They want you to be amazing so that their search can be over. You just need to go in, be yourself, have a good time, and try to connect with the material. Be a real person- it will only benefit you. The more that you get caught up in the judgment of it all, the less successful you're going to be.
At the end of the day, what makes Stagelighter worth it?
Honestly, the price it what makes it really stand out. For a lot of the companies that I work for in New York, where people come to the city, stay in New York and pay for these classes, you end up paying a TON of money for that. And usually you are in a big class with a bunch of people. In this case, you pay a very small fraction of that and it's very personal, direct, well thought out advice.
So more than anything I think it's a great deal! You can live in Topeka, Kansas and still study with people in New York... and still pay what you'd pay for a voice lesson in Topeka. Financially, it's a great way to be seen and work with New York-based professionals who are working in the business. I only wish that I had a resource like this, quite honestly. It's such a great idea, why didn't I think of it?!
Kyle Dean Massey recently finished playing Fiyero in Broadway's Wicked. Other theatre credits include Next to Normal, Xanadu, Lucky Guy, and Altar Boyz. In addition to his stage work, Kyle Dean has been seen on the small screen in "Inside Amy Schumer " on Comedy Central, "Up All Night" on NBC, "Hart of Dixie" on the CW, "Cupid" on ABC, and "The Good Wife" on CBS. Films credits include Sex and the City 2 and the independent feature, The Contest. He has also performed on "Good Morning America," "The CBS Early Show," "Regis & Kelly" & "The 62nd Annual Tony Awards." Kyle Dean was most recently seen on the acclaimed web series High Maintenance.
For additional information about Stagelighter, visit: http://stagelighter.com/