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Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli

Marc Tumminelli, creator and host of the “LITTLE ME: Growing Up Broadway” podcast, takes his turn discussing how he “Grew Up Broadway."

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli

Throughout the years, there has been a rise in popularity with podcasts. Enough so, that podcasts have integrated themselves into the Broadway community. Tony and Emmy-award-winning Broadway producer and filmmaker Dori Berinstein (Company, The Prom, Legally Blonde) and podcast host/producer and engineer Alan Seales (The Theatre Podcast) launched the Broadway Podcast Network in 2019, and since then, the network has become home to over 30 podcasts. "The Producer's Perspective Podcast with Ken Davenport," "Breaking Broadway with Kerry Butler," "Josh Swallows Broadway" and "Out For Blood: The Story of Carrie the Musical" have become some of my personal favorites, but one podcast that is particularly addicting is "LITTLE ME: Growing Up Broadway."

Marc Tumminelli, Founder and Director of Broadway Workshop and Artistic Director of Project Broadway, has earned himself a new title as the creator and host of "LITTLE ME: Growing Up Broadway."

The Broadway Podcast Network describes his podcast as follows: "Marc Tumminelli sits down with Broadway and film stars to dish about how it all got started...As a theater educator and the owner of Broadway Workshop, Marc gets his guests to open up about the good, bad and ugly of being a child performer as well as share his own unique insight of seeing kids go from the classroom to Broadway, sometimes overnight and the parents waiting in the wings. Performers will share tales of backstage stories, nightmare auditions, opening nights, unexpected closings, stage moms and dads, wranglers, unemployment, college and more."

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli Tumminelli's guests range from his Broadway Workshop students Andrew Barth Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen), Michaela Diamond (The Cher Show), Presley Ryan (Beetlejuice, Fun Home) and Rachel Resheff (Fish in the Dark, Billy Elliot: The Musical, Shrek The Musical), to Rachelle Rak (Catch Me If You Can, Oklahoma, Fosse), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Tuck Everlasting, Newsies, Seussical), Lilli Cooper (Tootsie, Spongebob Squarepants, The Broadway Musical), Jennifer Damiano (Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, Next to Normal), and even legendary youth talent agent Nancy Carson in his new "Spotlight" series.

Although Tumminelli is usually the one asking the questions on his podcast, I took it upon myself to learn how he grew up Broadway by asking the man himself. "Growing Up" in Port Washington and Westbury Long Island, Tumminelli started to get involved in theater when he was around 9, when a local theater was looking for kids to be in a big town musical revue.

"I auditioned and got one of the lead parts and that was all it took to hook me! My dad had lots of Broadway recordings and I... started listening to them. I loved the song "We Need a Little Christmas," and I realized that it was from a musical called Mame... I started listening to that show and lots of other shows. My dad would also take us to see Broadway shows, so that definitely sparked the excitement for me. I always loved dancing; I don't know why I was allowed to watch Flashdance because it's wildly inappropriate for kids, but I loved that movie and would play that cassette over and over and dance to it. It was beyond," shared Tumminelli.

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli Tumminelli always knew he wanted to pursue theater as a career. "Theater was the only thing I ever wanted to do. It was my entire life, I would spend all day at school just so I could get to rehearsal and do the thing I actually wanted to do...There was never any question I was going to pursue working in the theater."

Tumminelli did community and Long Island regional theater. "I played Dodger in Oliver everywhere, I did Bye Bye Birdie... I got to play David in the musical Rags, Winthrop in The Music Man, Gypsy, Zorba, The Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma! and tons of children's theater."

When Tumminelli was 11, he started to audition professionally. "I did not have an agent. I would find the auditions in the newspaper and make someone take me... My parents didn't know much about the business so they did not hit it very hard, and being totally honest, it's really difficult for two working parents to get a kid back and forth to auditions in New York City... I went to the open call at Hofstra University on Long Island for [the] Les Miserables [tour]. Debbie Gibson was going to be there to try to find young performers on Long Island to play the kid roles in the show... I got to audition for the Les Mis team and Debbie Gibson, who I was obsessed with. After the audition, the resident director gave me his card and told me to call the office to set up my callback... I had a big interview with Newsday after saying I was one of the 3 boys going to the callbacks. I called the office the following Monday, and they... gave me information for my callback. It was all so exciting. We saw the show the following week and I had my callback the day after. I sang a bunch, they worked with me, and then they talked to my family about going on tour, [which] was not really an option for my parents and our family... It honestly was a really cool experience and I think at first it was very disappointing, but everything happens for a reason."

While Tumminelli may not have toured the country as Gavroche in Les Mis, the actor went on to have a successful career appearing as Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound, and Yonkers in Gypsy starring Patti LuPone.

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli When Tumminelli was 22, he started directing youth theater. "I would stay up all night thinking of ways to stage the show and how I wanted the final product to look, sound and feel. I really like being in charge, I love creating something... I loved everything about it and I started to not love everything about acting. With each production I directed I loved [directing] more and more, and I started to like acting less and less...It felt like where I wanted to focus my time. Once Broadway Workshop started, I was done auditioning personally and [I was] so excited to direct anything that came my way."

Tumminelli credits Over The Tavern, Carrie, Sweet Charity, and Sister Act as his favorite directorial shows.

As of last month, LITTLE ME: Growing Up Broadway celebrated their one year anniversary, surpassing 40,000 downloads since March of 2020. New episodes of the podcast are available every Thursday, and Tumminelli, "...hope(s) that people get to hear stories they don't know," he said. "I hope that I can connect with more people I have always been fascinated with, and [I] hope our audience keeps growing!"

Just like on "LITTLE ME", I had to ask Tumminelli what he is currently obsessed with, as well as quick fire questions that he asks every one of his guests.

OBSESSED:

"I am obsessed with something different every week. Right now, I am kind of obsessed with Michelle Collins. She has a podcast called Midnight Snack and it makes me so wildly happy! She is so funny and quick. I am always obsessed with basically everything on Bravo [too]. "

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:

First audition song?

"My Best Girl from Mame and Consider Yourself from Oliver."

First Broadway show you saw?

"Ain't Misbehavin'."

Favorite Broadway show?

"Bridges of Madison County, Gypsy and Cabaret."

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli Tell us one thing about working with Patti LuPone

"I gave her a monkey change purse and when she opened it she said, 'There's no money in it.'"

What do you want on your bagel?

"Breakfast: Egg, Lunch: Chicken Salad."

What is your go-to album for a car trip?

"Linda Eder anything."

One show you'll never get over not booking?

"The Lion King, and I would audition for it again in one second. I want to play Timone for like 6 months and then call it a day!"

I want [BLANK] movie to be a musical

"Troop Beverly Hills."

Who makes you starstruck?

"Debbie Gibson, Andy Cohen and Sarah Jessica Parker."

What movie can you watch over and over?

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Dolores Claiborne."

What advice do you have for young performers/aspiring directors?

"Read, watch, listen to everything. You need to know plays, musicals, writers etc."

What Broadway show(s) have you left during intermission?

"Holler if Ya Hear Me. I went to the matinee and it was the first beautiful day of spring and I just couldn't keep watching it."

Favorite fast food?

"McDonalds Chicken Nuggets and a Hi-C orange drink."

Favorite TV show of all time?

"Strangers with Candy."

What would your superhero power be?

"Flying."

Favorite vacation spot?

"London is my favorite city and I normally go a few times a year."

If you could go back and time and see any Broadway show, what would it be?

"Angela Landsbury in Gypsy and Carrie.

One thing you want people to know about you?

"I say yes to nearly everything and I know every line in Gypsy because no one could ever pick me up from rehearsal when I was a kid...I used to just sit and watch all the rehearsals so I memorized the entire script."

Do you have any nightmare audition stories?

"I had a callback for Mary Poppins on Broadway and the pianist made me cry in the room, and once I left a dance audition in the middle because it was too hard so I pretended to go to the bathroom and never came back."

What advice would you give to a young Marc?

"Just wait! Nothing is going to turn out as you plan but it's going to be better than you thought!"

Check out bpn.fm/littleme to listen to "LITTLE ME: Growing Up Broadway", and follow @littlemepodcast on Instagram for behind-the-scenes photos from Tumminelli's guests!

Student Blog: Tune-In to Tumminelli


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From This Author Student Blogger: Kyle Morales