BWW Interview: Tony Vincent Opens Up About His Next Act- Shaping the Talent of Tomorrow in Nashville
Tony Vincent is taking his act south, and we don't mean downtown...
You know him from his starring roles on Broadway, in musicals like American Idiot, Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent. Or maybe you came to know him as a concert performer, recording artist, or as a finalist from NBC's The Voice. Now the Broadway veteran is working with the talent of tomorrow, teaming with Nashville-based training company PCG Theatrical.
PCGT is breaking the mold in the world of musical theatre training. A division of award-winning artist development company, PCG, PCG Theatrical is offering a uniquely personalized, one-on-one coaching program from Broadway's brightest stars. Led by Bernard Porter (CEO and Founder of PCG) and Vincent, the theatrical division provides groundbreaking mentorship to aspiring stage performers.
Vincent checked in with BroadwayWorld to tell us all about his latest project and why training with PCG Theatrical can be a truly unique experience.
Let's start at the beginning... when and how did this whole project come about?
After 20 years on Broadway, I came to a place where I felt really compelled to impact young talent in a real, authentic way. I had seen a lot of people coached by very reputable people, but either they had never had professional experience on a Broadway stage, or their experience was dated, or very genre-specific. I believe my strengths really lie in bringing and authentic pop and rock sensibility to what is going on in the current musical environment.
I was a recording artist before I ever hit a Broadway stage, so I approach music and songwriting, and the delivery of a performance in a different perspective from the average actor. I think that something happens when you've been on that creative side and you've been the generator of that content. I think that something happens in that you are closer to the material and you can see other's people's work in a much more vivid way.
I met a gentleman last year in Nashville who runs a company called PCG Universal. They address young people who want to be involved in the commercial music side of things- whether it's a pop or rock or country act. Bernard Porter runs the company and he had heard about me through my performances on Broadway and some symphonic things that I've done recently. He said, "Your skillset as a performer is really unique. I'd love for you to work with my commercial music clients." I knew I wanted to do that, but I told him that I thought he was missing an amazing opportunity. Broadway has never been bigger. People can't even get in to see the top shows on Broadway. I think for the first time in a long time, it's cool to be a musical theatre actor.
So I told him that I'd love to work with his commercial students, since that's what I did before I was ever even an actor on a professional level. But I told him that I thought he needed to look into running a theatre arm of this thing- artist development for musical theatre students. And I said, "And I want to run it." So we talked off an on for about two and a half months and pulled the trigger this past May.
Were you already in Nashville at that point?
Well, I knew that I was getting ready to move to Nashville late last year. With two children and me focusing a little bit outside the eight-show-a-week schedule, this seemed like real opportunity that I couldn't pass up.
I love this, because there are so many kids out there who are serious about this stuff, but don't have access to the resources that are in New York.
Absolutely. What differentiates what we do at PCG Theatrical is that we create a curriculum for that unique individual. If you go to a conservatory or university for any kind of acting or theatre experience, you're being made to fit their mold. When we see an audition for a client, I articulate exactly where their strong points are and where I think we can support them. Funny enough, when I was looking at the opportunity to spearhead this, I had to find the right group of people, who were in and around the city, to make this make sense. While I'm a primary instructor, I knew that I needed to have a killer group pf acting coaches, and ridiculous dancers, and really talented vocal instructors...
What used to be this "triple threat" standard is now approaching an expectation of "quadruple threat". You need to play an instrument to some capacity for many shows. We have that all under one umbrella and you can't get that kind of teaching anywhere else in the world.
It's pretty great that you're able to mold a curriculum around the student and not necessarily create a cookie-cutter product...
And we shouldn't, because no one is the same! From when I started doing this, my goal has always been to provide the best type of credible articulation of what they can do to better their performance. But the baseline is: I want to make sure that that person, when they are done with their experience with us, is that they feel significant in themselves. Period. Whether they choose to do musical theatre as a career is secondary to making them feel good about who they are and what they bring to the world. The moment that they have validity and feel significant in their own skin, they can accomplish anything they put their mind to.
What do you love most about coaching young people? What do you learn from being around them?
It's never tiring to see the penny drop. When something clicks inside of them and they get it... it is thrilling to see. Then, the desire they had initially is ignited. It's set on fire! They want to absorb more and get better, and get better, and get better. Those are the kind of kids that I want to work with.
Are most of your students from the Nashville area?
I would say 80% of our students don't even live in Nashville. They come from all over the country. We set a program for them ver a 72-hour period of time. They come to Nashville, do a ridiculous amount of work in dance or acting or vocals or a combination of all three. We get them a low rate at a local hotel, and then they come back 4-5 weeks later. And we have several different programs. One gives them a taste, it's called the Stage Door. Then we have various other levels based on how deeply they want to be involved. There is a six-month program, year-long, etc.
You've had this incredible Broadway career- is there someone from youth who helped you find your path?
Paul McCartney? [Laughs] I say that sort of jokingly, but it was a Beatles record that set me on this journey when was four years old. My dad had a really solid record collection and it was the Beatles that made me realize I wanted to be a part of it. That set me on the journey of performance and songwriting that I took as a young person. I was playing drums at 7, and programming synthesizers at 12. I could not get enough music in my life. Even as a young person, I used every kind of performance outlet that I could- and that is what got me into musical theatre. It helped me sing and it made me become a better communicator onstage.
What's something that you weren't told as a young performer that you wish someone would have said to you?
Stop over-singing. I wish someone had told me that sooner. How I teach is out of what I've learned. I've watched a lot- watched people who were working around me. I'd ask myself, "Who is really good and what is making them good? Why are audiences going crazy for their performance?" I learned that you have to stop beating the audience over the head by over-singing, because there comes a point when it starts to push them away. I've learned that if your performance is not believable, if it's all wow-factor, they'll remember that you were a great singer, but they won't remember you. If you move people and connect with them, that's the key. I wish I knew that at a young age.
What do you think PCG Theatrical offers that students can't get anywhere else?
If you want to have the best possible musical theatre training, nothing out there offers what PCG Theatrical does, specifically because it is about you, the individual. We craft a curriculum around you. It is kind of a luxury item. I know, it's not inexpensive, but it's a lot less expensive than thinking you're gonna get that kind of training at a university, when you're looped in with 400 other students who are learning the same exact thing. That's the difference.
Click here for more information about PCG Theatrical.