BWW Interview: John Peterson's Cinderella Story
When John Peterson was a South Jersey high schooler, he saw a touring production of West Side Story at The Academy of Music that changed his life.
"It was really impactful," he remembered. "Just the way I felt being in the audience... I knew I wanted to help other people experience that."
"That was really when I was like 'that is what I have to pursue as a career,'" he added.
Now, Peterson gets to influence audience members on the same stage as the actors in West Side Story as a swing and assistant dance captain in the national tour of Cinderella. The tour will play the Academy of Music until February 24.
"The fact that I get to perform at the Academy of Music, where I grew up seeing tours, is really special," Peterson said. "I have been looking forward to this all tour."
Peterson auditioned for Cinderella during spring break in his senior year at The University of Utah. He made it a tradition to travel to New York City to go on auditions, but until Cinderella, none of them stuck. Cinderella is Peterson's first national tour and his first time being a swing.
"They don't teach you how to [swing] in school," he laughed. "Swinging is such a different experience. I've loved it and learned so much more about the big picture of a show."
He added that most regular theater-goers are unaware what swings do, but they should be.
"Appreciate us a little more. Look at that board in the lobby and see who is 'playing the role of,'" he said.
Peterson covers five men's ensemble tracks, which he said can be a challenge. However, he credits constant training for preparing him to take on so many different parts.
He didn't begin professional training like vocal lessons, dance or acting classes until his senior year of high school. But, he said, aspiring performers should take advantage of the opportunities available in Philadelphia.
"I started late and when you first start, it can be scary," he said. "But, once you make the jump and just sign up for that class, it makes all the difference."
He also reminded young performers that they can and should go at their own pace while working toward success.
"Everyone has their own journey," he said. "If it's your passion, go for it. Don't let watching other people succeed before you deter you."