BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below

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BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below

One of the most oft frequented cabaret theaters in Manhattan, Feinstein's/54 Below has a steadily revolving door of patrons, all anxious to see what their next round of shows will be. With stars from all areas of the performing arts up on the 54 Below stage, there is never a dearth of thrilling entertainment to be found, but that entertainment is not limited to the celebrity-themed shows because there are regular group shows, new works, and emerging artists. Among the highlights during the year are the group shows featuring emerging artists whose faces the patrons of 54 Below see regularly, only on the other side of the footlights. That special event is the 54 Below Staff Show.

54 Does 54 is an opportunity for the staff of the popular nightclub to show off the skills that brought them to New York. The city and the industry are populated by beautiful, wonderful talents who are here, chasing a dream, and on their way to their goal, they have taken positions in nightclubs to pay for their lives, their classes and the tools of their trade. Survival jobs are an integral part of the life of an artist but sometimes the time spent at the survival job consumes the time one should spend working toward their dream job. At 54 Below, though, they take pride in the performing artists who, so expertly, serve the guests, and these staff shows have become a great way to allow the staff to shine in their chosen setting, the regulars to know them better, and the club to promote their family. Produced by one of the 54 Below's programming directors, Dylan Bustamante, the shows happen every few months and always have a fun and festive theme - the last one being their Halloween show, which played to a sold-out house.

The newest installment of 54 Does 54 will take place on February 19th at 9:30 pm and features 22 young people with the talent and the hope to be the future of the entertainment industry. As someone who sees these amazing people several times each month, this writer thought it was time they got the Broadway World Cabaret interview treatment. Happily, when faced with the task of answering a few questions about their lives in show business, these working actors all agreed to share a little bit of themselves with the BWW readers.

These interviews were conducted via email and are copied, verbatim.

Name: Brooke Beatty

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre

Education: AMDA (only did a year but I learned a TON)

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat is your favorite type of music to sing? This is such a hard question to answer! Not to sound cliche, but I love everything. I love to sing music that touches the spirit, whatever genre or type that may be.

How much of your talent came to you naturally and how much is made through study? I like to think of talent as 50% god-given and 50% training. You can be born with an amazing instrument but knowing how to use it is where the magic comes from!

What song do you sing every day? *scrolls through Apple music* Well, there are far too many to list them all, so I'll just leave you with a little Life's Too Short by Tinashe and The Feeling by Sammy Rae. Two very different songs by two very different artists, but such is my library. Get into it!

What area of your work in show business would you like to further explore? I would simply like to explore being a creator. Theatre/Art is evolving so much and I feel that there are countless opportunities to create something incredible and make it accessible to those who may not have had the exposure before. It's the responsibility of the artist to create, so we must. I feel immensely blessed to live in a city that rains inspiration and allows me the freedom to express myself however I choose.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: I'm in the beginning steps of becoming an active part of the webiverse again, so, for now, you can find me on Instagram @missbrooklynb_ and on Facebook at... my name?

Name: Christopher Brasfield

Performing Arts Focus: Acting

Education: UNC-Greensboro. Where I did NOT study theatre or music. The plan was law school. However, after 4 years there I left for AMDA- NYC

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhen did you realize you wanted to be a performer? I've always loved to sing. As a kid, I would only sing in front of immediate family, but even that was rare. I dreamed of being on stage and seeing people smile back at me, but was too afraid and unaware to actually try. I have always wanted to make people feel the way my favorite performers make me feel. I have always considered those people superheroes. They are literally moving people without touching them. When I was 16 I did a school project that was music-related. I sang Misty Blue with my eyes closed the whole time, of course. It was the first time anyone not living in my home had heard me. It felt so liberating, exciting, and terrifying. I opened my eyes and the dozen people in the classroom were silent for a few moments. Then they applauded. Loudly. I felt like a superhero.

Who is the performer who most inspires you? I'm the same as everyone else. There are too many to name one, but my first inspiration was Ella Fitzgerald. Back when I was in high school I ordered every Ella CD I could find; the "10 CDs for a dollar deal" that all the publishing houses were doing in the early 2000s. I ordered from them all. My mother was confused.

When did you move to New York to pursue your dream? I moved to NYC in 2006.

What's your philosophy regarding your career path? I just want to be as black and gay as I can and make people think, cry, laugh and smile while doing it.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: Instagram- OhSoChrisB Website- ChristopherBrasfield.com Agency- Take3Talent

Name: Kayla Starr Bryan

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre

Education: BA Theatre Studies, Emerson College

Are you enjoying living the life of a New York actor? Yes! Every single day is a different adventure. Some days are definitely harder than others, but that's all part of the journey and challenge.

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowDo you sing every day? I try to! Most days it's just to my shower, but I'm trying to challenge myself to sing more! As someone that has been considered a dancer first most of my life, it's definitely still a mental roadblock, but practice is the only thing that can make me better!

How do you prepare for an audition? I try to do something small that makes me feel confident before going in the room, which varies from day to day based on the audition. Audition season can be very taxing, so reminding myself that I do this out of love is important!

What's coming up in your career that really excites you? Honestly, this show! I've never gotten to perform at 54 Below, and especially since working there, it's been so cool to see so many talented artists on that stage and get to have a chance to do the same!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: www.kaylastarrbryan.com

Name: Dylan Bustamante

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowPerforming Arts Focus: I was a directing major in college but spent a lot of time with Casting and Stage Management.

Education: Pace University 2012

What was your first big job in show business? My first job out of college has been here at Feinstein's/ 54 Below. I am the programming assistant as well as the Head Maitre'd in the restaurant. Just recently started producing shows here including the staff show AND 54 Hears The Masked Singer (This MARCH)

In what area of the arts would you most like to succeed? I honestly love it at 54. And don't see myself moving along anytime soon.

Who is your artistic spirit animal? I would say a mix of Patti LuPone and Alice Ripley.... could you imagine?

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: @bustamoveamante on twitter and Instagram!

Name: Michelle Cabot

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre

Education: BA- Theatre Arts Fairleigh Dickinson University

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat is the first play in which you performed? The first play I performed in was Robin Hood when I was four years old. I played Little John because they thought it would be funny if all the other kids were much taller with this tiny little sidekick. I couldn't read yet so my mom had to read the lines to me and I had to memorize everything that way.

What area of the performing arts would you love to try that you haven't yet? I would love to have studied the costuming end of things. In my opinion, dressers are like the unsung heroes of the theatre community and do so much more than people realize. They constantly mend and prep costumes, they're there with a water bottle or whatever their actors need, they make IMPOSSIBLE quick changes happen in seconds, and so much more it's just insane! I'm always so inspired by best friend from college who has had such an incredible career as a dresser and her job just seems so interesting, a LOT of time and hard work, but very interesting.

Who is your favorite actor, male and female? That is so hard, I don't know how I could pick just one! My favorite Broadway actors who I've had the honor of seeing at 54 Below would have to be Annaleigh Ashford and Norbert Leo Butz. Watching them perform in such an intimate space at 54 Below is like a masterclass. Both are of course so unbelievably talented but I also find the stories they tell in their work so interesting and genuine.

What is your goal in show business? My goal was always been to be a professional actor but working at 54 Below has created so many new opportunities for me. I started out as a server here about five years ago while I was still auditioning every day and I am now the Private Events Coordinator and am absolutely loving it! I never knew just how much the two careers could overlap, both require teamwork, creativity and thinking on your feet!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:

@meeshcabs - Instagram

Name: Erik Corona

Performing Arts Focus: Playwright/ Theatre

Education: I went to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (NYCDA) and graduated with an associate's in occupational studies.

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhen did you decide, definitively, to go after a job in show business? When I was a senior in high school, I decided that this is what I wanted for myself and it was between a school in LA or New York.

Why did you choose New York over Los Angeles or another show business city? I chose New York because I was born and raised in California and I really wanted something different, something exciting, something scary.

Who is your favorite playwright or composer? Tennessee Williams is my all-time favorite, Will Eno is also climbing that list as well as José Rivera.

Is there a performance talent you have that people haven't seen yet? My writing and Acting, I would say.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: IG: Cali_Rona

Name: Kyle Doerr

Performing Arts Focus: Acting And Film

Education: BA from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

DBWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Belowo you enjoy auditioning? Not really, it's always hit my anxiety real hard.

What's the most valuable lesson you learned from a performance teacher or coach? If you're not getting cast, then create your own work and cast yourself! This has always stuck with me and really helped fuel my passion and creativity for the arts

If you could give yourself a job in the business right now, what would you pick? Writing and directing film and stage shows. I love to create stories that break away from the mainstream at the moment.

If I looked at what you were just listening to on your device, what would I discover? You would find a lot of pop and techno right now, it helps amp me up for the day.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: Instagram: @kydoerr

Name: Kevin Ferguson

Performing Arts Focus: Actor, Emcee, Producer

Education: Wright State University B.A.-Theatre Studies

At what age did you realize you had talent? Two minutes after I was born, the first minute is when I realized I was gay.

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowHow did you nurture that talent to a point where you felt that you could make it in show business? I've always been my own best agent. Being persistent about my dream of being successful in show business really has driven me to where I am now.

What is one thing you do every day for your career? I stay focused on my own journey and don't let others discourage me from my destiny.

Who would you most like to perform with? Billy Porter or Alan Cummings and/or Beyonce

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:

Facebook: Kevin Ferguson, Instagram/Twitter: @KevinFerg_, YouTube: "Kevin's Corner"

Name: Desmond Hurt

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre/Pop

Education: Oklahoma City University

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the arts? If I'm not on a stage, I'm not living.

Do you feel more fulfilled by the rehearsal process or the performance experience? I love the performance experience. Although the rehearsal process is fun and creative, Live is Live, honey!

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat is your strongest selling point as a performer? Humor and Vocal Prowess. Also, don't be surprised when I serve you a face or two.

What are the two most contrasting pieces that you use in auditions? All I Need - Jonathan Reid Gealt Too Pretty - Katie Thompson

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:
Facebook: Desmond Hurt Instagram: @desmondhurt Twitter: @desmonddotcom Booking: desmondhurt2@gmail.com

Name: Jesse Jacobson

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre

Education: The University of Northern Colorado- BA in Musical Theatre, Minor in Dance

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowHow's the New York show business scene treating you? So far so good! I've been in the city for four total years and I've worked regionally, toured the nation with The Wizard of Oz as the Dorothy understudy, and you can currently catch me in The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking at New World Stages on select dates! I am lucky to have a survival job like Feinstein's/54 Below because I get to serve in a great community of performers like me all while learning from the best of the best performers on our stage every night! That positive energy fuels me to continue to level up in this business and keeps the fire burning for more personal growth.

Are you able to do one thing for your career every day? I certainly try my best- whether it's getting out there for an audition, carving out some time for a vocal warm-up, or taking classes, I really do believe that progress equals happiness.

Who's the Broadway performer you will go see any show in? The Queen of Princesses herself, Laura Osnes. In fact, my first personal visit to Feinstein's/ 54 Below was for the Broadway Princess Party!

How many songs or monologues do you have ready to go if an auditor asks to see them all? I have 15 songs and 4 monologues in my repertoire currently. They would be in for a full-blown concert!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: Website: www.jessejacobson.com Instagram: @msjessejacobson Facebook: Jesse Jacobson

Currently Seeking Representation!

Name: Jayson Kerr

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theater

Education: Circle in the Square Theater School

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat was your first audition song? I can't remember my VERY first audition song, but I do know that Hellfire from Hunchback of Notre Dame got me A LOT of work!

Which musical theater composer's work speaks to you the most? This is like asking me who my favorite child is! I love them all for so many reasons! I love Ahrens and Flaherty, Kander and Ebb, Bernstein, Adam Guettel, Cole Porter, Jeff Blumenkrantz, and Marcy and Zina! But above all, I love Stephen Sondheim a lot, I know it's cliche! I love his lyrics and he writes for actors so it's especially appealing to me. Although, I've NEVER been cast in a Sondheim show...someone get on that.

Are you able to get out and see theater around town? I see at least one show a week, whether it be a cabaret, broadway, or off-broadway show or even a showcase. I even keep some PBS specials of shows I may have missed on my DVR for the weeks where I'm REALLY busy but can take a little time to watch something. I've maintained this habit since 1999, back then I was mostly 2nd acting shows....I've seen A LOT of shows.

Where do you find your greatest inspiration in your work? I steal quite a bit from drag queens! They might be my greatest source of inspiration. I also watch a lot of stand up comedians: Joan Rivers, Dave Chappelle, and John Mulaney are the ones that inspire me the most. I also watch old sitcoms! Right now I've been watching a lot of Laugh-In on Amazon Prime! And I keep a healthy rotation of Will & Grace and Golden Girls in the background if I'm home. And of course, I rewatch any and all Mel Brooks films when I can, my favorite is History of The World Part 1.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: www.JaysonKerr.com Instagram:@JaysonLKerr

Name: Cassi Mikat

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theatre

Education: BFA in Acting with an Emphasis in Musical Theatre from Wright State University.

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat is your greatest strength as a performer? My greatest strength is storytelling through song, using vocals not just to be pretty, but to push the plot forward.

Who is your show business role model? My all-time show business role model is Bette Midler. A consummate comedienne, always willing to take risks and make big choices. Currently, though, Bonnie Milligan is my role model. She is pushing the envelope with what a plus size girl in this industry can be. We can play so much more than your villains and comedic sidekick roles. We have the capacity to be leading ladies, to be someone who falls in love, to be someone with depth. Bonnie's work in Head Over Heels gave me hope that I can play a role like that one day.

How would you change show business if you had the power to do so? I would make casting more open! I see that the best person for a role will often not get it because they don't fit the image of what the role was imagined to be. There is a lot of casting that happens based on tradition and I think that's a huge mistake! A big theme in current pop culture is pushing the boundaries of gender, race, ability, and body type. I think show business is a little behind the curve of this trend and we need to catch up!

What's your favorite song to sing? Right now I'm really loving singing "All I Ask" by Adele. That song comes from such a guttural place. It's got a lot of range too, which is a fun challenge. I always look for a challenge when I'm picking material to sing.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: cassimikat.com @cmikat on Instagram

Name: Austin Peek

Performing arts focus: Acting

Education: vocal performance, University of Montevallo, Montevallo, AL

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowHow did you first become aware of performing as a profession? I was aware that it was a profession at a very young age, but it never really "clicked." I just knew that it was what I always wanted to do. It never seemed like a job or a chore-like so many occupations can be like. And as a child, I never wanted my profession to be laborious or something that I didn't enjoy doing.

Which of your performances has been your very favorite? Ha! This question is the bane of my existence! I'm sure every performer would say that it's hard to choose just one performance that stands out. So, to be fair, I'll just mention a few. Recently, I had a very big audition that I was very proud of. I had prepared for that audition for months! There was also a scene that I worked on from Noël Coward's Present Laughter in a scene study class that was a load of fun. I played Roland - this totally ridiculous character! This other time, when I was a very small child in Sunday School, we performed "This Little Light of Mine". I was the most animated child and I nailed all the choreography in front of the whole congregation. I'm sure it's on a VHS recording somewhere at my parents' house!

What songwriter would you use as the focus of a solo cabaret show? Another difficult question to answer! Well-most people don't know this about me, but my undergraduate degree is in classical singing. During my studies, I began a life-long romance with Richard Strauss. His compositions are transcending! Though, I have always had a special place in my heart for the classics and Broadway's Golden Age. So to answer the question, my solo cabaret show would most likely center around classic show tunes with the occasional contemporary piece thrown in the mix.

What's the last play you went to see? The last play I saw was a production of Shakespeare's Richard III. It was part of the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. It was very well done! The whole reason I went to see it at all was because I met the all UK cast at an Irish pub earlier in the week. They were a cheery bunch!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: Instagram: austin_peek

Name: Philip Romano

Performing Arts Focus: Graphic Design/Producing

Education: SUNY Geneseo

When you moved to New York to pursue your dream, did you have a plan or did you play it by ear? I commuted from home in Westchester for my first year or so, so by the time I actually moved to the city I had a fairly good idea of what I was doing.

Are you more comfortable playing drama or comedy? I'm not really a performer! Though when I do, it's definitely more on the comedy side. (I'll actually be releasing a comedic pop song I wrote in a few weeks.. more on that soon...)

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowHow did you get your start in the business?

An internship at 54 Below! I had only been to one show here before working here (Tim Minchin) but remembered it fondly, and it seemed like the perfect mix of graphic design and theatre.

What's playing in New York that you really want to see but haven't yet? I saw Little Shop last night which was pretty much the only thing currently playing I hadn't seen and really wanted to! Very excited for Company, Caroline or Change, and to see Six and Sing Street again on Broadway.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: www.philip-romano.com I G: @philipromanonyc Tw: @philip_rom

Name: Kariana Sanchez

Performing Arts Focus: Acting/Musical Theatre

Education: B. F. A. in Acting at Florida State University

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhen did you move to New York to pursue your dream of performing? I moved here in the fall of 2017 just a few months after I graduated from Florida State. I was lucky enough to live with my big brother and his family while working and saving up for an apartment.

Was it very different from what you expected or just as you thought it would be? I had a general idea of what it would be like. My family is from New York, so I was pretty prepared for life in the city. But auditioning on the other hand...no matter how much you prep for it in college, it's a whole other world when you're finally here! I definitely had a big wake up call during my first audition season. Pursuing a career in this industry isn't for the weak of heart. It's been a journey, but I've finally figured out my audition season flow!

Are you confident, walking into auditions, or do you get nervous? I always get butterflies before an audition. But it's like 20% nerves/80% excitement. It's another chance to share what I love with others even if it's just 16 bars.

What has been the performance you've seen on the New York stage that you just can't forget? My first Broadway show ever was In the Heights. And it just took my breath away. Seeing characters on stage that reminded me of my own family, hearing Latin music and hip hop in a musical, watching Latinx culture represented so honestly and beautifully... I knew right there that I needed to be a part of theatre like that someday.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: Website: karianasanchez.com social media: Instagram- kariana_eve representation: none

Where potential employers can find you: I have videos up on my YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/user/karieve213

And they can find me in the box office/front of house at Feinstein's/54 Below, of course!

Name: Meaghan Sands

Performing Arts Focus: Opera and Musical Theatre, Comedy

Education: B.A. in Opera Performance from Anderson University

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat was your first Broadway show? Phantom of the Opera on a blessed high school field trip for my show choir (wassap Jazz Rock!)

How did you get into the arts? I have always been a little weirdo who liked music that wasn't modern. My first love was music from the 50s and 60s, even though I didn't realize it was not current. Literal quote from my childhood: "Hey Meaghan! Have you heard that new song 'Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls?'" "No! But have YOU heard that new song, "My Boyfriend's Back and You're Gonna Be in Trouble?" I was seven. Later someone bought me a Sherman Brothers CD and I was sold. I always loved opera though. It seemed like magic to me. I'm not even sure the first time I was aware of what it was, but I do know that when I saw the blue alien in The Fifth Element, I HAD TO DO THAT SOMEDAY. She was my hero.

What's your favorite part you ever played? In opera, Cendrillon (Cinderella) from Massenet's Cendrillon. I love fairy tales, magic, and make-believe. The music in this opera is like an ooey-gooey, warm dessert washing over the ears. In musical theatre, The Baker's Wife. Again, I love fairy tales and magic! With her though, she is such a strong, passionate woman who lives in the moment and thinks on her toes. I think that's a fantastic way to show up in life.

Do you like the audition process? Hm... I used to despise it/was terrified of it/was almost vomiting at the thought of doing it, but through the peaks and valleys of this business I have realized that making art is always a gift, even for 30 seconds at a time. It took me years to realize that auditioning IS the job; you gotta fight for the right to have this life!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: IG: meaghansandsungar

Name: Stephen Santana

Performing Art Focus: Stage, Film/TV

Education: BFA Musical Theater at AMDA

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhy did you become an actor: I became an actor for two huge reasons. The 1st being, to enhance representation for the Latinx community. I loved all things in the realm of acting, from televisions, plays, and movies. I would watch all of it, but I never got the chance to see other actors from my community in those stories. I knew I wanted to work hard to become the representation I didn't see growing up. This way other POC's kids can be inspired to achieve more success in the arts.

My 2nd reason is the art of storytelling & the messaging/theme behind every play or story. I saw how impactful theater was to people & I wanted to be apart of it. I wanted to tell stories and act in roles that would alter the way people feel or think about the world.

What's the role in a show that you could play over and over and never be unhappy doing it? I think any role from a Shakespearean play would do that for. There's just so much there to be broken down, in terms of language & text.

What is your Go-To audition monologue? My go-to monologue is from Water By the Spoonful, In which Elliot discusses the death of his little sister.

Who would you love to act in a play with? I would absolutely adore working in a comedy with John Leguizamo, he's one of the greats who helped paved the way.

Social media handle - Instagram/Twitter: Stephen_Santana

Name: Dana Schaaf

Performing Arts Focus: Musical Theater

Education: The University of Miami, BM in Musical Theater

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowAre you more comfortable doing comedy or drama? I have always been way more comfortable doing comedy! I personally think that doing anything comedic requires a certain amount of creativity and stupidity (used in a good way) that I'm pretty darn good at. There are few things that I get more pleasure out of than making a room full of people laugh, or... you know, just getting that one loud laugh from the singular person in the room that "gets it."

On your resume, what do you list as your special skills? *dusts off resume* Ever since I moved to NYC and realized half the kids in the audition room are circus-trained ninjas, this has been tricky. Right now it has "Baby Cry", "Plastic Surgery Face", puppetry, some instruments, and a list of sports I keep up with that I pray may come in handy for an acting job one day including Table Tennis (yeah, that's how you know it's serious), and Bowling. I'm also currently studying Stenography. As soon as I'm literally a professional stenographer, I'll put that on there too.

Do you ever perform material you have written yourself? Strong technical "yes". I've been studying with UCB, so every time I perform with them it feels like I'm writing performance material for myself and immediately starring in it; It's just without any of that super pesky editing, workshopping, or quality control. In addition, I'm lucky to have friends that write new musical theater, so I like to think that when I help them perform their pieces I have a strong influence on what they've written.

What show business project are you focused on at this moment in time? Besides a couple comedy writing projects on hiatus while I finish stenography school (so I can finally put down the serving tray), I'm really focused on improv at the moment. My goal is to be on an improv team by the end of the year so that there's a place I can send people to watch me do work and start getting into commercial audition rooms. I'm also working on getting my guitar and trumpet back up to speed so I can feel comfortable playing them both on stage.

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:

Feel free to go to DanaSchaaf.com to get to know me a little better or just contact me at Dana Schaaf on Facebook.

Name: Gretchen Schneider

Performing Arts Focus: Actor

Education: BA Communication/Theater

Graduate Circle in the Square Theater School

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowWhat's your favorite kind of show to go see? I enjoy going to see anything on the stage! My mentor once told me "There is no such thing as 'bad theater' You can learn from everything you see!" I go into each experience with this in mind and I think it helps influence my growth as an artist.

Who has been your greatest influence as an artist? There are so many! I'm going to have to say 2 at the moment. The amazing Liza Minnelli and Laurie Metcalf are at the top.

What is your dream job as a performer? Sharing the stage with either of the ladies above!

If you were stuck in an elevator with a famous director and they asked you to audition for them, would you be able to? Sure!

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:

None at this time.

Name: Joshua Stackhouse

Performing Arts Focus: Composer-Lyricist

Education: -Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition from Wheaton College, IL -BMI Workshop

How did you discover you were a songwriter? I was and am a big fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic. In grade 5, I wrote my first parody lyric changing N'Sync's "It's Gonna Be Me" into a song about McDonald's "The Smiles are Free." I didn't start writing music until I was a teenager when I began composing simple little skater-punk tunes a la Green Day and Blink-182. However it was the release of the film Tangled, with all of its shamelessly fun songs, that made me want to write narrative character-building songs for musicals.

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowDo you compose the music and write the lyrics to your songs? Typically, yes, I write both lyrics and music. However, as you'll hear in this upcoming show, I've occasionally collaborated with composers and I only write the lyrics on those projects. I paired up with the brilliant composer Steve Wallace who can write anything (he's written 4 operas, 2 symphonies and he wrote a few beats for Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan!) and we wrote the song you'll hear on February 19th. It's a fun one and we're pretty proud of it!

Have you ever performed/would you ever perform an evening of your compositions?I've produced two! In February 2017 I presented a showcase of my work at Feinstein's/54 Below entitled "You've Never Heard Of Him, But..." And then last summer I put together a cabaret celebrating Canada Day on July 1st which featured all original songs about my home and native land! I do occasionally perform my own material but always reluctantly as I much prefer to offer up what I've written to the wealth of performing talent here in New York City. That said, you can occasionally see me pop up at 54 Below or Birdland singing some silly song I just wrote.

How many instruments do you play? I play a bunch, but mostly piano and guitar. I'm not particularly virtuosic in either, though - I'm certainly no Charlie Rosen, that's for sure! In college when we had to pick our "strong instruments" I would always jokingly say "laptop."

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you:

https://www.joshstackhouse.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/joshua88keys

Name: Tyree Walker

Performing Arts Focus: BFA Musical Theatre

Education: University of Montevallo (Alabama) (PS: We do competing original musicals for our homecoming because we don't have a football team. PV!)

When did you first become aware of the performing profession? My parents took me to see THE WIZ when it came to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and Cece Peniston, Peabo Bryson, and Grace Jones were all in it and I looked at my Mom and I told that I wanted to do that.

Who's Your Ideal Duet Partner: Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, I say this because I'm calling this into existence!

BWW Interview: The 54 Below Staff of 54 DOES 54: THE FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 BelowHow often do you hit the audition circuit? I've been auditioning more since last June. I took a break and turned my focus towards fitness for a while and I auditioned in July to take over the role of Walter Lee in "A RAISIN IN THE SUN" at Harlem Repertory Theatre. I got the show and I had less than a week to learn the entire show, lines, and blocking and on Aug 2. ( My birthday) I stepped right into the show, while still working at 54 Below. Taking on that juggernaut of a role, and it also being a character that I've been wanting to for a while, especially here in NYC, rekindled my flames and passion for theatre more than ever.

What's your dream job as a performer? I have three roles I need to tackle: Hercules Mulligan in HAMILTON , Gary in SLAVE PLAY, and Tom Robinson in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Website, social media, representation where potential employers can find you: I am so easy to search for online, which is fantastic! Facebook: Tyree Walker Instagram: justbeingtyree Email: TyreePV09@gmail.com

The 54 Below Staff Show, 54 DOES 54, plays Feinstein's/54 Below on February 19 at 9:30 pm. For information and tickets, please visit the 54 Below website



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From This Author Stephen Mosher