Theatre

Where are [they] now? [title of show] Fans 5 years on.

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When I was five years out of high school someone from my class suggested a 5 year reunion. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t particularly see the point. Most of us had either just graduated university or were in the midst of it after taking gap years, and had we really achieved anything in our careers to particularly talk about? Most of us also still lived in the same towns and socialised with the same people.

 

Recently my favourite musical, [title of show], celebrated five years since opening in previews on Broadway. It surprised me, I’d been so busy over the past few years that I didn’t even realise so many had flown past. My journey with the show took me from being a crazy fan in my bedroom making a YouTube series about going to Broadway (and I can’t believe I’m going to bring this up in public again, but if you want to see what that was like click here) to producing the show’s international premiere in Melbourne, it was the reason I flew back and forth to the US a number of times, and also why I found my career rapidly growing. It opened doors, it presented opportunities, and it made my life a whirlwind of crazy adventures, it even got me here to London.

 

When I looked back on the last five years of my life I was pretty impressed, and as I looked over old photos and blog posts from during [title of show]’s run on Broadway I kept coming across fans I used to know and I wondered, if my life had been so interesting over the past five years, surely other fans lives had been as well. That’s when I created a post trying to find old fans of the show who’d taken part in the Adopt An International [tos]ser Program, something I’d created to bring the show’s fan community together when the show was closing.

 

I asked some simple questions-
Where were you five years ago, and what were you doing?
Where are you now, and what are you doing?
And did [title of show] have any continual effect on your life?

 

These were some of the responses I received.

 

Anne-Wil Huisman- Holland
Anne-Wil was my partner in crime for the Adopt an Inter[tos]ser Program. I got the idea after we both made videos in our respective countries (Australia and Holland) about not being able to see the show, despite how much it had changed our lives. Anne-Wil told me that she started attending university to study Cultural Studies, only to take a year off to start work with a children’s theatre company. “I did some research on their audience, was an intern at the marketing department, and now I have a small administrative job there.” A few months ago she returned to study and will be majoring in Media and Journalism next year. And after that? “I think that marketing the performing arts is something I would like to do, I really enjoyed that. Or something with children, since I’ve also been doing stuff with educating children about arts and culture… But as for now, I’m just seeing where it all goes.”

“There were times I thought: we have to do a Dutch version (of [title of show]).” Said Anne-Wil, “Coincidentally, last week ‘Die vampire, die’ popped up in my Itunes playlist and I thought: they sure said some true things in that show. I’m having a bit of a ‘Way back to then’-period, so to speak. That twenty-something period where you think: ‘Wait a minute, I’m growing up! Where did my childhood go?!’ So it’s funny that you’re contacting me about [title of show] at this moment. They sure didn’t talk rubbish in that show, it really was about life.”

 

Elyse Dolan- Ohio, USA
When Elyse took part in the Adoption program she was in her senior year of high school and really wanted to pursue a career in acting. “After about a year of college, I realized that my real talent and passion is in directing.” She recently graduated from Denison University in Ohio with a degree in Theatre and English Literature, and will soon be moving to Chicago to take up an Assistant Director position. “Hopefully in five more years, I’ll have an exciting life as a professional theatre director to tell you all about!”

 

Elyse also said that [title of show] has meant different things to her throughout the past five years. “The lyrics of “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” are what has remained with me the most as I have discovered (and continue to discover) my voice as a director – that creating quality work which stays true to my instincts is more valuable in the long run than creating work that aims to be agreeable.”

 

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Ellen Shaw- Brisbane, Australia
Five years ago Ellen was 17 “Wow, that feels forever ago!” She was in the first year of an accounting and law degree course at the Queensland University of Technology. “Now I’m finished my degree, and I’m working as an accountant and it’s wonderful.” (I imagine her life to be somewhat like this.)

 

Ellen said she’s introduced [title of show] to friends, and they now have inside jokes about it. ” [title of show] is amazing. I’m one of those people who go through phases with stuff, and after things end or I over listen to music I will stop listening to it, with [title of show] I go back every now and then and it’s like OH MY GOD I FORGOT HOW GREAT THIS IS, and I fall in love with it all over again.” Somehow Ellen managed to miss the Brisbane premiere of [title of show] “that makes me so freaking sad.” But I’m sure another opportunity will arise, and at least for now she can look over her recently found Adopt An Inter[tos]ser Form and [title of show] Broadway playbill.

 

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Kate Barrette USA
Five years ago Kate was a 14 year old theatre dork in her freshman year of high school in Massachussets. “I did all four musicals and two of the plays.”  It was in her Sophomore year though that a [title of show] dream came true. ” I was fortunate enough to attend one of Susan Blackwell’s Die Vampire Die workshops, so I was able to finally meet Susan, who has remained one of my role models in life.” Now Kate attends Roger Williams University in Rhode Island where she’s majoring in theatre. “I was the only freshman to be in either of the two Mainstage productions” Looking further ahead Kate will be studying abroad in London in 2014, and upon graduating in 2016 she plans to move to Florida to work at Disney World. New York’s not off the table either.

 

” [title of show] has always inspired me to follow my dreams, as out of reach as they may seem.” says Kate “A Way Back to Then remains one of my favorite musical theatre songs of all time, and Die Vampire Die is one of my go-to songs when I’m in a bad mood. It’s still one of my favorite shows, if not my absolute favorite. I’m so glad it was a part of my life.”

 

Chris Pelrine Canada
On his original adoption form Chris spoke of how he fell in love with the show from the moment he received the cast recording from a singing teacher. “My life has continued to keep [tos] in mind.” Chris is a dance teacher, and the message of Die Vampire Die helps him stay true to his vision when creating choreography. Chris’ love for the show has continued through the years “I have been able to see a production of [tos] here in Halifax, NS. It was very interesting to see how the show evolved from the Off-Broadway recording that I love so much and the Broadway version. I couldn’t stop laughing.” And like many of us he keeps up to date with what the crew are doing, and enjoys a good episode of Side by Side by Susan Blackwell.

 

1012213_10151452777647757_1382412575_nLucy Harrold, UK
Five years ago Lucy was in her second or third year of a four year Chemistry Masters in London, though she’d soon decide the chem lab wasn’t for her. She stuck it out though and the last year of her course turned out to be the best one. A theatre group she’d joined performed Hair, “it was the most amazing experience; there were no egos, everyone got on, I finally got to wear jeans on stage and I just soaked it all in” and she got to graduate on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall! Not knowing what to do after university Lucy returned to live with her parents in countryside and began temping.  “I didn’t want to move back, I prefer the anonymity of London so the hunt was on for a job so that I could leave again.” Last year Lucy returned to London with a permanent job as a HR Assistant at a patent law firm.

 

Lucy also still loves the world of theatre and is currently part of a Gilbert & Sullivan Group, which she really enjoys despite not being the biggest G&S fan, especially because she has gained a whole group of new friends through it who like her for who she is. “(That’s) what I’d always wanted, what [TOS] told me I could have.”

 

Jonathan Ware, London UK
Five years ago Jonathan wasn’t in London, “We’re pretty similar in our journeys” he said. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Jonathan studied in Melbourne at the Victorian College of the Arts. He majored in stage management and a third year secondment program enabled him to come to London for three months and gain experience working in the industry. Upon returning to Australia he finished university and bought a one way ticket back to London. “(I) arrived on a Friday, started an internship on the Monday, four months later I finished up the internship and started working for a rocking company called Digital Theatre.” Purely coincidentally a couple of months ago I’d applied for a job at Digital Theatre and Jonathan (who didn’t know me) put me forward as a potential, “I was like Aussie, [title of show], moved to London, tick tick tick.” Definitely a crazy, small world, twist from the Adopt A [tos]ser Program that I wasn’t expecting!

 

422514_10150557821261863_1280402459_nTally Deushane, Los Angeles, USA
If I thought the crazy things that happened to me through YouTube were amazing, I was blown away by the experiences of Tally when she caught up with me. “Five years ago I was a college first year in Atlanta planning to go to law school.” Before [title of show] announced it was going to Broadway Tally captured her excitement about the show on YouTube, creating a channel (live2tivo) for that sole purpose (see that initial video featuring Tally, her gnome Maurice and the love of pink flamingoes here.) That all changed though when she got a ukulele and started writing original songs about beloved TV shows, and various other topics. A few of her songs have even been used on DVD releases of those shows. “Because of that, I made the contacts that enabled me to move to LA and pursue my dream job.” Tally is now pursuing a career in television, hoping to eventually work in development.

 

When it came to the adoption program Tally also has a great story. “One of the other people on the list was a friend I made online, and one of the things we bonded over was [tos]. She’s a couple years younger, but from the same area, so, when she was touring colleges, I ended up hosting her overnight. She ended up coming to my college, and our friendship is stronger than ever!”

 

Rachel Sussman, NY, USA
I got on to Rachel accidentally, I was attempting to track down a UK [tos]ser who I couldn’t find on facebook but ended up finding on (of all websites) Goodreads. Rachel’s name rang a bell, and sure enough she was friends with a bunch of [title of show] related people so I knew I’d found the person I was searching for on Goodreads. BUT I ended up sending the message to Rachel instead of the girl I was looking for. Luckily for me Rachel is also a huge [title of show] fan, and we get her story now too. “I saw [title of show] 5 times on Broadway during its brief run. I was a freshman in Drama at NYU and hopelessly touched by the show.” A freshman no more, Rachel is now a Creative Development Associate at RKO Stage Productions, the commercial producing office behind the 2013 Olivier award-winning TOP HAT in London and BIG FISH, which is coming to Broadway later this year. 

[title of show] still plays a big part in Rachel’s life. “Jen Tepper, then Michael Berresse’s assistant on the show, has become one of my close friends and a huge mentor to me (I am her “Little” and she my “Big”). I’ve performed with both Susan and Heidi in the Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular which still blows my mind.” Rachel still counts the show among one of her favourites of all-time, and speaks highly of all those that worked on the production.  “They are some of the nicest, most genuine human beings working in the theatre today.”

 

Preparing this post has been one of the best things I’ve done this year. Reconnecting (and in some cases connecting for the first time) with these fans and finding out what has been going on in their lives has been both joyful and inspiring. It’s great to see so many people still chasing their dreams, with the lyrics of [title of show] still ringing in their ears and helping them get there.

 

There’s also more pieces still on their way as various other fans begin to get back to me as well, so keep checking back for more updates. Also if you’re reading this and were a fan of [title of show] during it’s original run on Broadway I’d love to hear your story too. Send me an email here.

 

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About Sean Bryan

Creator of Mortimer Sparks, one part of Duck and Mouse.

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