BWW Exclusive: Getting Your Big Break - talking with Michael Lazarovitch
People who love Broadway and musical theatre often dream of one day getting to be on the Great White Way, and a lot of the BWW readers often ask how people go about it or how they can break into the business. I will admit to having that dream myself when I was younger, there was nothing I wanted more than to stand center stage and belt out songs in front of a live audience. I used to go to sleep at night dreaming of the roles I would want to take on if ever given the chance.
For me, that chance never came (a serious lack of talent got in the way of pursuing anything that required me to actually sing in front of human beings) however I have been blessed in that I have been able to continue to be a part of that world I love so much through writing and promoting theatre in general.
One problem I repeatedly see in musical theatre (and television and film for that matter) is that a lot of "stars" seem to get their big breaks overnight, giving young people the impression that if they are going to break into the business it's going to be completely easy, magical and instant. There certainly isn't anything wrong with having that dream, but I also think it's important to focus on the myriads of young up and coming actors who are working very hard to try and find their big break, and look at their backgrounds and what they have been involved in. It's eye-opening and something that I think all Broadway lovers will enjoy.
With that in mind, I'm proud to bring you a BWW Exclusive interview with Michael Lazarovitch who is a Toronto actor who was recently involved in a Broadway Studio Cast Recording of "COME SUMMER" and has been teamed up with a major LA agency who reps some of America's top talent, including cast members of Glee, How I Met Your Mother and other big television mega hits, as well as major Broadway players and TONY award winners... He was kind enough to give me an inside look at his background and what his journey has been like so far:
Thank you for speaking to us. Could you tell us a bit about your personal background and how you became interested in musical theatre?
It all started in elementary school, after I was taken to Les Miserables as a child. I always thought that I would love to be "that kid" who was singing in the show, and I remember telling my parents that was what I would like to do. It's funny now, because I referenced it just like a kid saying they wanted to join a soccer team or go to camp. I didn't realize it was a "job". I have since seen Les Miserables countless times, and each time it hits me that it was responsible for getting me hooked on being an actor.
Also, I was lucky enough to have parents who brought me not just to traditional musical theatre, but also to opera, ballet and concerts which further cemented my commitment to being an actor. And then once I was introduced to the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim during a televised performance of "Into the Woods" there was no turning back.
What type of schooling did you pursue to help you achieve your goal?
When I left high school I attended Ryerson Theatre School, where I completed my undergrad BFA in the acting conservatory. I also got to spend a semester abroad at NYU's Tisch School of the Art's CAP21 studio in Manhattan in their professional music theatre training studio.
What came after your post-secondary education?
I booked a few TV gigs, then a major US feature that Elton John and David Furnish were producing. A lot of wonderful regional and Toronto theatre, which lead to being cast in a pilot. Last year I was cast in a supporting role in another American feature with Universal with a supporting role in the latest Michael Cera film. After wrapping that shoot, I traveled down to Los Angeles for some meetings and was able to partner with top agency APA Los Angeles (Agency for the Performing Arts)... joining the ranks of Corey Monteith (Glee) and Betty White to name just a few! It was and still is a really exciting part of this career I'm continuing to try to build.
Who have your mentors been over the years?
I have been lucky enough to have many mentors in my career so far, including Broadway leading man (and recent Broadway producer) Kevin Spirtas, Barbara Deutsch - one of Broadway's leading coaches, and Len Cariou (who I had the pleasure of singing for last year). He's someone who's worked on stage, in iconic musicals like Sweeney Todd and on screen. Kevin has also done it all....and now is producing major shows on Broadway. And Barbara...she's done everything, and she's a real force to keep me on the right path. I have a lot of peers who are also mentors. It's important to surround yourself with friends who support you, and who you support. I've got a really talented group of friends. I'm very lucky. But these people all have one common thread - they're all about the art. They stay true to why they got into this business.
Do you have any interesting tales from Broadway or experiences that stand out in your mind now that you are grown up and "in" the business?
It would be from when I met Alice Ripley and Bobby Spencer after "Next To Normal". Prior to pilot season my best friend and I traveled to NYC to get our "broadway fix". We planned like only actors can plan - ensuring we would see at least one show a day. We got invited backstage to visit friend Bobby Spencer (J Robert Spencer - a client of Barbara Deutsch) after the show (which blew our minds). We hung out with him and Alice Ripley in their dressing rooms and got to hear about the show and their careers, and their path...
In the climax of the show there is a scene where Alice's character smashes a wooden music box on the ground - and she had kept pieces of the music box and doodled her name on them. She told us that she gives them to friends who come backstage or who travel to see the show. Since then that small piece of wood has traveled with me to LA, and has stayed in my back pocket for all of my musical auditions. Alice Ripley literally gave me a piece of Broadway to carry with me. It now resides on my bathroom counter to remind me every morning of my first love (the stage) and what got me into this business.
So what comes next for you?
I have been fortunate enough to have meetings about a few shows that are going up in NYC, and there's lots of film and TV on the go. Auditioning, auditioning, auditioning. Once you become involved it gets you all revved up and wanting to jump into as many amazing projects as you can. I find that is the best reminder of the fact that I have one of the most amazing job in the world - there's never a dull day and I'm always fortunate to work with some of the most interesting people! I know that's really cliche, but when you're able to do this every day, sometimes you just stop and have to laugh and say "How lucky am I!". Next, I'm working with amazing writer/director Spenser Cohen and producer Anna Halberg, both prodigies in LA (and backed by mega agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment) on some upcoming television projects. It's a really exciting time for me. I am excited to figure out the next time I'll be back on a stage - for whatever reason, live performance is really what feeds me as an actor. There's just something about it - it can't be beat.