BWW Interview - Broadway Alum Brian Justin Crum Talks AMERICA'S GOT TALENT Experience
Broadway alum Brian Justin Crum has advanced to the semi-final round of this season's AMERICA'S GOT TALENT on NBC. The talented star has appeared on Broadway in WICKED, GREASE and NEXT TO NORMAL, as well as in off-Broadway's ALTAR BOYZ. Today, he speaks exclusively with BWW about his experience on the talent competition and shares his hope that his performances spread "a message of love" to the global TV audience.
What made you decide to audition for the show?
Well, I've had incredible luck and lots of success in New York doing theater and I love musical theater, but I've always had this dream to be a pop artist, to be a recording artist. I moved to LA about two years ago and decided I was going to give it a go and see what happens. And I had a few good moments here and there, but when the show came up, it just seemed to make sense, it all kind of fell into place and I was like, 'why not?'
Do you feel that your theater experience has helped you, particularly with the live performance rounds?
Absolutely! The judges have been so great to comment that I'm a seasoned performer, and that's because I've spent my life doing live theater. I feel there's a lack of story-telling in pop music nowadays, with the exceptions of Sia and Adele. And that's something that I hope to bring from my musical theater past - the story-telling aspect of music.
Do you write your own original music?
I do. I'm pitching a couple of songs to potentially do on the show. So yes, I do write songs and my hope is to be able to record my own music.
Where do you draw your writing inspiration from?
I find a lot of my writing inspiration comes through the hard life experiences that I've been through. Falling in love and then heartbreak. I've also had a kind of broken relationship with my father. So I have a lot of things that I pull from.
You mentioned the judges. Has their feedback been valuable to you and are there certain judges whose opinions matter more to you than others?
You know it's interesting, there's been a lot of compliments, which is amazing, and any kind of constructive feedback that I've gotten I definitely take and absorb and try to apply that to my music. But I've really had a special moment with each of the judges throughout the show so far, so it's really been such a blessing and I think that they really respect me and what I do.
What about song selection - how do you decide which song you will perform?
Well, it's tricky. It's not just about picking a song. We do have to go through the publishers for every song to get the rights to do the song, so I don't always get to do my first song choice. But there is an incredible music team and it's been such a collaborative effort to find the right song. For me, it's about taking something that's classic and then doing a totally different take on it, a totally different spin. I've kind of wanted to go with a cinematic theme and give that feel to everything I sing, so that it's grand and it's epic and feels almost like a movie score. So I've tried to find songs with lyrics that apply to that but also apply to my story. So I'm really trying to have a story arc with each piece to create a line through my story and that helps me decide where I want to go.
How much rehearsal time do you get in between shows?
We get a fair amount. I meet with the music team every other day to go over the song at least once. I also usually run over to the theater, and we run the song once. So yes, I do get a good amount of rehearsal.
Do you find yourself bonding with any of the other contestants?
Yes, we spend a lot of time together, especially when we're waiting to go into rehearsal, or when we're filming our package video, we have a lot of down time together. I've really connected with The Edgar Family, they've been just so sweet and so supportive and I think the world of them and their talent. And I also spend a lot of time with Grace VanderWaal, she's a cutie patootie. She's so young and she has an extraordinary amount of pressure on her, so we've had some time to connect. And since I'm much older than she is, I've been able to guide her through and help her face those fears and help her know how to deal with that kind of pressure.
How would you describe your experience so far?
It's been one of the best experiences. I think as artists we all like to have a lot of control and a lot of power over everything and to be on this show I've given up a lot of that power and made myself vulnerable to America, to the world really. And it has filled me up so much to have so much love coming from all corners of the globe. It's been an incredible experience. And I think my story of being openly gay and talking about that has hopefully helped a lot of kids and families deal with bullying and deal with coming out. I think it's really a message of love and support and I think that has touched a lot of people.
I know you said that your goal is to have a career in pop music, but is there a chance we'll see you back on the Broadway stage one day?
Absolutely, absolutely! You know I'm going to really put my all into this recording career for some time, but Broadway is my home and theater people are my people. So I will absolutely return to Broadway some day!
Be sure to show your support for Brian Justin Crum on his next appearance on AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, airing Tuesday, September 6th! Below, watch Brian Justin Crum's AGT performance of the Phil Collins' classic, 'In the Air Tonight':
About Brian Justin Crum: At 17, Brian Justin Crum joined the cast of WICKED on Broadway as the Universal Swing, and went on to perform in all of the US productions of the show. Soon after, he joined the off-Broadway cast of Altar Boyz as Mark, and then appeared in GREASE on Broadway. He went on to play the role of Doody on the first National Tour of the production. In 2012, Crum became the standby for Gabe and Henry in Broadway's NEXT TO NORMAL.
Brian has starred in many regional productions including Tarzan, Jesus Christ Superstar and Snapshots, where he met his mentor Stephen Schwartz. He has performed along side Mr. Schwartz all over the country. He toured with THE ADDAMS FAMILY as Lucas Beineke and most recently as Galileo Figaro in Queens rock theatrical WE WILL ROCK YOU. He sang with the original members of the band Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Now living in LA, the actor is perusing a career in Pop music. He can be seen in the acclaimed For the Record series in West Hollywood playing Gatsby in the Baz Lurhman and The Athlete in Dear John Hughes.
Source: Brian Justin Crum official web site