BWW Interview: Corey John Snide of CATS on his journey from the Capital Region to Coricopat
It's hard to deny the fact that the Albany area is full of talented performers and artists who strive for the best in their careers. With theatre and dance opportunities growing each year, some travel far beyond the Capital Region and make their mark in professional venues all over the world. One of these Albany natives is Corey John Snide, currently portraying the role of Coricopat in the Broadway revival of Cats. Snide was kind enough to speak with us about his dance roots here in Albany and how they've helped him create a successful and riveting career so far.
BroadwayWorld: When did you first begin training as a dancer and performer?
Snide: "I started training at Eleanor's School of Dance when I was three and we trained as a competitive dance studio heavily in tap, but we did train in other styles. We competed at the regional, national, and I even competed at the international level for Team USA. I started really getting serious about my dance training around age eleven to twelve. An opportunity was presented to me through a convention called the New York City Dance Alliance where I was introduced to the casting director of Billy Elliot. I auditioned originally for the Broadway production and was sent over to London and eventually Australia to perform the role of Billy, and that's really how my performance career started."
BW: You then continued to perform professionally for some years before returning to Albany in high school. What made you want to come back?
Snide: "I realized that if I continued to work and work, I was never going to give myself the opportunity to train so my junior year of high school, I decided to stop auditioning all together and go home, go back to my dance studio, start training more, and then eventually I wanted to go to college."
BW: You then attended Julliard, which offers one of the best dance programs in the world. What was your experience there like?
Snide: "Julliard is a difficult school: it is an intense program, both physically and emotionally and artistically. It really forces you to figure out if dance is really what you want to do and it forces you to figure out how you're going to make your career out of dance and what kind of artist you want to be. They demand the highest level of respect for your work, so you spend four years finding what dance really means to you and how you're going to contribute and give back to the community with dance. It was an incredible four years for me: I would not be the same person that I am today had I not spent four years developing myself as an artist and person there."
BW: And you're currently performing in the Broadway revival of Cats! Had you grown up a fan of the show?
Snide: "I have to tell you, I had never seen Cats before in my life! When I first heard about it, I was like 'What is the deal? Why do people love Cats the Musical?' I couldn't figure it out. I listened to the music and I was like, 'Yeah, that's pretty good, but I don't get it. They're Cats who build a wall.' So I didn't really know anything about it but I loved Andy's work and I was really excited to potentially be a part of this classic, iconic show. I was a little timid at first because as soon as we got into rehearsals, we spent about four hours improvising as Cats, crawling around, licking our paws, nuzzling up against each other. But after about thirty minutes, I was a cat: I had lost myself."
BW: Now that you've been with the show for quite some time, what has it been like getting to work this this amazing production team?
Snide: "It's so inspiring and so humbling. This isn't just people dressed as Cats dancing and singing. The show is so intricate and layered and rooted deeply in intent. The choreography, both the original and new, is so embedded with symbolism and deeper intentions. There's a lot of detail and nuance in the movement that has a deeper meaning to us as a cast. It's not simple in any way: there are always questions to be asked and that's what I really enjoy about dance and theatre."
BW: This production is a little different than the original, however, with some new choreography. Why do you think longtime fans of the show and those who have never seen it should come?
Snide: "The opening number is almost exactly the original, so people who have known the show are going to walk into something so familiar and so home to them, but then the next number is going to be fresh and resembling of what they know but with a new contemporary edge to it. I think what's brilliant about it is that we are able to preserve what is so beautiful and brilliant about the old show while updating it and making it open to an audience that is a little bit more contemporary. I think it's great: I think it's the best balance between old and new. No matter what, we hope audiences will come not knowing what to expect and getting exactly what they didn't expect."
BW: You've experienced a lot of success so far in your career. How do you think your training in Albany attributed to that?
Snide: "Eleanor's School of Dance was a home for me. I spent my life there: my mother worked at the studio so I ate, slept, and breathed dance my whole youth. Given that it was a small town for dance and the arts, I had a brilliant ballet teacher, her name is Ms. Robin Deet, and she always, always, always demanded of me that I ask the best of myself and I always am grateful to her for that. Another teacher of mine, Anthony Morigerato, is a brilliant tapper, and he also was someone who went to college for dance, so I was always inspired by him. There are moments when I will be in rehearsal and someone will say something to me and I will remember a phrase that my ballet teacher or Anthony or another teacher would say to me and I'll be like 'oh my gosh, I've been waiting eighteen years for that to click in my body and I finally got it!' The people who you grow up dancing with are the ones you hold onto your whole life."
BW: What advice would you give to those who aspire to one day have a career similar to yours?
Snide: "Something I am learning now and wish I spent more time sooner figuring out is how to not let the fear of looking stupid get in your way. If you agree that it's stupid, then you're already setting yourself up to feel and maybe look stupid. If you own it and just keep asking questions about the work and keep your mind open, I think that there is nothing that you can't figure out. I think that often times nowadays, when everything has to be so perfect, people don't give themselves the time to explore and ask questions and be wrong sometimes."
Make sure to catch Snide in the Broadway revival of Cats currently playing at the Neil Simon Theatre.