New York City — there’s a reason why people say that it’s the city that never sleeps. Why? Because it’s absolutely true.The city is like an ant farm that never stops working. There are people everywhere, taxi cars honking, music blasting, subways rumbling underground, and lights everywhere. How in the world is someone supposed to rest in a city where it feels like you constantly have to be on-the-go and always working. How are you supposed to recharge? This is definitely something that I’ve had to learn since moving to the city back in February. And at times, I’m not very good at giving my body the rest and recovery it needs to feel energized and ready for a new day. But here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned along the way that have helped me keep my energy level up and committed to a brand new day, every day of the week.
If you found any of the above information helpful, please let me know. If you have ideas that are not on my list, please share them. I’d love to start a conversation. Feel free to leave me a comment.
Be Happy. Be Happy.
Backing up my blog post regarding vocal health… vocal endurance and longevity is another topic entirely. Keep in mind these are all things I’ve learned over the past 18 years. Now, how do you build up endurance and longevity? Sing! The vocal chords are a muscle and you have to workout those muscles. Obviously, don’t over sing… but you need to continue to strengthen your vocal cords. The only way to build up endurance is to strengthen them: Sing for longer periods of time, pace yourself as you increase the time of vocal use, and always remember to stop when you feel like you’re getting vocally tired. That’s when you’ve reached your max.
I have found “amazing light bulb moments” in my vocal technique and endurance by doing shows. Being in a long run of a show, whether it be a 9 week run, 12 week run, 6 months, or 1 year… you have to learn to pace yourself. And you learn what you need to do to be able to maintain a show vocally 8 shows a week. How? Body awareness. Every show is unique and requires something different of you physically. The best way I can explain this is through an example:
A year ago this week, I was in rehearsals for Newsies at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Not only is Newsies an extremely demanding show physically… but it is also very demanding vocally. As a tenor, I am usually always on the tenor 1 line when I’m in a show. Learning to navigate the score of Newsies vocally, on top of dancing, was definitely a challenge. But it taught me a lot. I learned how to pace myself during the week, and show by show, so that I could continue to sing high As and Bs and always hit that high C at the end of “Once and For All” without fail every performance. What did I do? The following: A lot of sleep, vocal rest when I wasn’t performing, eating healthy, a lot of water, setting up two humidifiers in my room (my hotel room was a rainforest y’all… no joke), and making sure I warmed up smartly before every show. The wonderful thing about this process was that by the end of the run… I felt like my voice was stronger and I was able to find a great placement for singing up in the stratosphere that made singing high As, Bs, and Cs, so much easier. They were effortless and just escaped my body with ease and strength. After the run, I later went to my voice teacher and she immediately noticed the new placement and loved it. She gave me a few more tips to help with the new discovery and vocal strength… but she was so proud of where my voice was at.
That’s improvement. Training and studying, going and doing a show, and coming back to your training and having your teacher immediately notice the difference in your voice… that’s improvement, that’s achievement. What if you don’t have a voice teacher? Well, I would recommend getting one. But for now, record yourself on your phone… listen to what you’re hearing (Does your voice sound nasal and stuck in your nose? Does your voice sound like it’s in the back of your throat? Does your voice feel or sound closed off? Are you using your air? Are you feeling tension anywhere? If you’re singing in front of a mirror… are you turning red? Do you see tension in your neck? Are you breathing from you ribs/diaphragm and not your shoulders? etc.) What you should be hearing and feeling is: resonance in your mask, airflow, no tension in the neck or shoulders, no tickles in your throat, a present sound vs. nasal sound, relaxed/natural vibrato, pure tone, expansive ribs… feeling your lungs fill up like 2 footballs, and abdominal activation.
However, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a voice teacher. It’s the only way you are going to improve. And take from many different people over time. I always recommend changing your voice teacher every 5-6 years. Or whenever you feel like you’ve hit a plateau. It’s natural and happens all the time. Never feel bad about switching to a different voice teacher. (If you need help finding a voice teacher in your area, or want to know what makes a good voice teacher, DM me.)
Vocal and body awareness is so important. And from my 18 years of vocal training, I am able to map out exactly how I am going to sing every song in my book, every song in a show that I’m in, and/or every song asked of me. Keeping up with your vocal technique is so important. I cannot stress it enough. It’s an investment you will never, ever, regret.
Lastly, understand that everyone’s voice is different (tone, range, texture, where you feel resonance, etc). Where you feel resonance or what visual helps you with your technique might be completely different from someone else. And that’s ok. Our bodies are uniquely made. So play around. See what feels comfortable. However, if something hurts or feels uncomfortable… stop. You should never feel uncomfortable or feel pain when you sing. But learning from your mistakes and your failures… (with the help of your trusty vocal coach) will only make you a better singer.
Finally, rest. Rest is so important. It allows your vocal chords to replenish themselves (like any other muscle). Resting your voice ensures vocal longevity. It’s not healthy to be talking and talking and talking all day until your voice becomes hoarse. Always have an awareness of where you’re at vocally today and never push. Never scream or yell at the top of your lungs. Be cautious when you are at football games, amusement parks, concerts, etc. Awareness is key. Trust me. Continue to play, build strength, strive for endurance, and listen to other singers, but always be smart. Keep those vocal cords strong and keep singing, friends.
I’ve noticed that this topic has come up more often the past few months. And as a dancer I felt it was important for me to address it.
Before I say anything more, I want to preface that I did not start dancing until I was 13 years old. And I always wish and kick myself for not starting sooner. But there are so many incredible dancers who started dancing when they were eighteen, twenty two, or even twenty three years old. So it is never too late to start. Remember that.
Now, how to ace the dance call: 1. TAKE CLASS. It’s the only way. The only way to get better at dance calls is by honing your technique and strengthening your body and mind; and the only way to do that is by taking class. Take class. Take class. Take class. In dance class (whether it be ballet, jazz, modern, tap, etc.), not only do you work on your technique, but you also exercise the muscle of learning to pick up choreography quickly. This is a muscle/a part of your brain that you HAVE to train. Understanding sequencing and putting choreography into muscle memory very quickly is incredibly hard. And the only way to get better at it is by practicing it. And the only way to practice it is by taking class. The dance calls that I have felt awful about were not the ones where I felt like I didn’t know the steps, but the auditions where I could not quickly understand the sequencing. If you can’t remember the sequencing and how to make the steps live in your body, you are not going to succeed. But you can succeed with practice. Practice DOES make perfect.
4 Quick tips for Remembering Choreography and Sequencing
So, if you are a beginning dancer with little to no training… my advice to you is to get a friend to go to dance class with you and take a basic or beginning level class. I always enjoy class so much more if I have friends taking it with me (esp. if it’s my first time taking a brand new class). This friend can also be your accountability partner. You can keep each other accountable for going to at least one dance class a week. And do not feel bad about going to a basic or beginner level class. I take basic/beginner classes (on top of advanced classes) all the time. I love going back to the basics. In basic level classes I can really focus on my technique (the minute movements and what muscles need to activate). I truly believe going back to beginner classes helps your technique tremendously.
(Disclaimer: For my beginning dancers… be careful about taking a professional beginner dance class. Even though the class says beginner level… the fact that it is a professional level class means there is a knowledge and technique already involved in taking that class. So if you are beginner-beginner dancer (just starting out/have never danced in your life), take a basic level dance class).
To my musical theatre performers: musical theatre is going in so many directions these days: from pop to rap to folk to rock & roll to everything in between; and so is the choreography. Recently new Broadway musicals have been featuring choreography that ranges from hip-hop to tap dance to contemporary and modern. Many of the newest Broadway shows are exhibiting choreography that is in the hip-hop, tap, and contemporary realm.
So the second way to ace the dance call is: 2.TAKE DIFFERENT CLASSES THAT EXPLORE DIFFERENT STYLES OF DANCE. Take hip-hop, take tap, take ballet, take jazz, and take contemporary. Take it all! An excellent dancer is a well versed dancer.
Well what would you recommend taking Collin? (Especially on a budget). I’m so glad you asked. Well, I recommend takingone ballet class, one tap class and one jazz class a week. If financially that is difficult. Just take ballet. Ballet is the foundation for all forms of dance and it will build up your body’s strength and technique like no other form of dance will. For me personally I will find one jazz dance class and one tap class that I love and will make it a priority for myself to go to that one class every week. Then if I can financially afford it… I will expand from there.
Which leads me to my third peace of advice. 3. FIND TEACHERS YOU LOVE! Over the past three years, I have discovered that the dance classes that I make a priority to go to every week are the classes where I LOVE the teacher. Seeing those teachers and building a relationship with them is one of the greatest parts of my day or week. I simply love being in their class! I have a blast!
How do you find teachers that you love and connect with? First, by trying out different classes and seeing which teachers you connect with. Connection is key. Second is by asking yourself questions:
And second, talk to friends and ask them what their favorite classes are. That way you know you are taking a good class. Getting referrals from friends will ease the narrowing down process of which classes you love and don’t. The other benefit of getting a referral from a friend is they can join you for class. Why is this a benefit? Because said friend can initiate the introduction to the teacher. Networking!!!! It’s so important to say hi to the teacher before or after the class (especially in New York). A simple thank you for class is enough. MAKE the connection.
My last piece of advice to those seeking to ace the dance call is: 4. TAKE CLASS CONSISTENTLY. I have a lot of colleagues and friends who will only take class (and a lot of it) right before audition season, or a few days before an audition for a dance heavy show. Taking a ton of class right before an audition is not going to help you in a dance call. But taking class consistently over a long period of time, will. Technique takes time to build and engrain itself in your body. It’s just like working out. You are not going to see immediate results within the first week of a rigorous workout plan. But you will see results after three months, six months, a year, and two years of the plan. The same goes with dance. You won’t refine your technique in a week. But a year of consistent dance training and you will be in awe of the progress you’ve made. I promise you.
Finally, I’ll close with this: since I first started my dance journey at the age of thirteen, I knew I wanted to be a true triple threat. So I took class all the time in high school and college. And even two years ago, I never thought I would have the technique and the capability to be in the ensemble of NEWSIES. But I had a longing to be a better dancer each and every day. So over the next two years I took class consistently (esp. ballet) and my technique grew and improved. Two years later, I was cast in NEWSIES at The Fireside Theatre performing the original Broadway Choreography.
Never say that you CAN’T dance. Because you CAN! With the right mindset and attitude you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. BELIEVE in yourself. Do not let one botched danced call determine your worth as a dancer. Trust me, I’ve botched many dance calls over the past three years. And that’s okay. Believe in yourself and your talent. And you too will be able to be in the ensemble of NEWSIES two years from now.
Many people ask for vocal health tips. Here are some things that have helped me over the past few years.
Vocal Wellness When You are Sick:
Vocal Wellness During a Show:
And there you go! Vocal health tips 101. These tools help me. There are plenty of other elixirs and methods that my friends and other professionals use. But this is what works for me. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message on my contact page or DM me on Instagram.
Take care of your voice. You’ll be thankful you did.
I just got back from a 2 week business trip in New York City. I went to audition, take class, explore the city, and visit friends. And boy, did I learn a lot. Here are my 15 key things I learned from my actor business trip to NYC.
If you are an actor and you have never been to New York. Go! Coming from someone who was scared of New York for the longest time and felt safe and comfortable in Chicago. I’m telling you to go! Taking this two week trip, truly opened my eyes to the opportunity there. For someone who loves Chicago and loves my Chicago theatre family, it’s weird for me to say… but I’m so excited, nervous, and eager to move to New York in the spring.
If you haven’t had the joy of attending a BYU Vocal Point, you need to go. Their concerts are amazing. I had a chance to catch them in concert back home in California a few months back. There were doing a concert and featuring The All American Boys Chorus. I am an alumni of the chorus. I graduated in 2006. Since I graduated and over the past couple of years, The All American Boys Chorus has been able collaborate with some incredible people such as, Josh Groan, BYU Vocal Point and David Benoit. Check out some of the music videos the chorus has done with BYU Vocal Point.
I don’t usually post very vulnerable posts on my blog, but I feel like my experience this past week and a half could be inspiring to those who read this. Since closing a fantastic run of “Elf the Musical” at The Marriott Theatre on January 3, 2016, doubt, fear and questions began to bounce around in my head. And the over-bearing “What am I going to do next?” question was ever present. For the past 7 months, I have been fortunate enough to have had employment in my major field of study (musical theatre) since I graduated college. But I was never able to line something up for after “Elf.” Ever since, I was a kid and I knew that my dream was to be a performer, doubt, fear, and questions about how I would support myself as an adult, never phased me. I didn’t care about all of those questions that people asked me about how I was going to make a living.
I was purely focused on refining my craft and getting better every single day. But now that I don’t have the foundation and the support of school, these questions began to filter in as the reality of being an actor began to sink in. As someone who gets stressed very easily, who likes stability, and routine, it’s rather ironic that I chose the performing arts as my career path. But as I relayed these fears and doubts to my father over the holidays, he reminded me about a very simple saying: “It’s not about the destination . . . it’s about enjoying the journey.” This quote has been playing over in my head since “Elf” closed. Life is a journey filled with achievements, incredible moments of time, but it’s also filled with hardship and trials. But it’s the journey, how we overcome the hardships and celebrate the achievements and joyous moments in our lives that make us who we are.
To have a career in the entertainment industry, you must be in it for the long run. Some actors book a Broadway show and yet, they still aren’t happy or they think of it as just another job. But this is a career. To have a career in theatre you must constantly fight. (Trust me, I’ve had many a meltdown). The fighting, the perseverance, and the meltdowns, they all make you stronger. You learn from the trials and you come back wiser and stronger for the better.
If you have a dream and a goal, and you have the passion and determination for that goal to come true, I have no doubt that you WILL achieve that goal. So for those of you working as a performing artists out there and have been feeling doubt, I say to you: Enjoy the Journey and Believe in Yourself. Stay Positive. Stay Focused. And Be YOU. One day, there is going to be a person who will see the talent, light, and passion within you and that one opportunity will lead you to your dream.
If you’re an artist, then you’re used to the occasional remarks from people that may sound similar to: “oh, you’re an artist? So what do you do? Do you have another job?”
What people don’t understand is that being an actor is actually a very important job. In a world consumed with social media, film, and TV, it is the job of the actor as a story teller to delve into the hearts of it’s audience to move them and hopefully propel them to induce positive change. Art can invoke change. Art is powerful. I have been performing in a production go Elf The Musical for the past month and what I’ve learned from this experience is that art and story telling can truly move people (it’s funny how it’s becoming to prevalent to me with this production). Elf, being a comedy, has brought so much joy and laughter into the hearts of our audiences for two and a half hours. Not many things in our day can bring someone that much joy for that long of a period. There was one particular performance in which I was backstage and I could hear the pure and sincere laughter of a child overwhelmed with humor and joy from something funny that the main character, Buddy, just did. In that moment: That laughter, that child, reminded me why I love theatre and why I am an actor. The laughter was so wonderful and humbling to me. It made me realize that Art has power. But most importantly it made me, the actor, in the show appreciate even more what my cast is doing out on that stage every night. We are spreading a glimpse of light into the lives of each audience member. In a world that has become overwhelmed with hate and darkened by sin, especially over the past couple of weeks, I am proud to be able to be a glimpse of light in the world.
So to my fellow actors: whenever you’re in a show, listen to the audience. Their response to the story on stage just might inspire you to invoke change, fuel you to be the best you can be, and remind you of the reason you chose this profession.
Sorry for being absent the past few months. I graduated from college in May! WHAT?!?! I received my BFA in Musical Theatre from The Theatre Conservatory, Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt Univeristy in Chicago. That whole day was so surreal. I can’t believe I’m a working actor/adult! This past summer (2015) I was working at The Little Theatre on the Square for 3 months performing in 7 of their shows including “Mary Poppins,” “Hairspray,” “Swing,” “Wizard of Oz,” “The Addams Family,” and more. I then went on vacation to Europe with my family for 12 days (check out the videos on my “About Me” page). I then spend another 3 weeks back home in California visiting with friends and enjoying some much needed time and relaxation with my family. I’m back in Chicago now and I’m working at The Marriott Theatre doing “Elf the Musical” this holiday season. We started previews this past Wednesday and the show is being received very well. The audience loves it! It’s such a blast to perform every night. We officially open this Wednesday. It has been so humbling to have had the experiences I have had these past 7 post-grad months.
Also, my website has been going through some enhancements and updates (brilliantly executed by my brother). So that’s why my blog hasn’t been updated recently. But I’m back and I can’t wait to share more of my artistic pursuits with you and what I’ve been inventing in the kitchen. Check back soon.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to post another blog post. I have been very busy. But I wanted to share with you my amazing trip to New York City that I took in March. It was truly incredible to live in NYC for a week exploring the sites and seeing 3 Broadway Shows. The first show I saw was “Les Miserables.” Melissa Mitchell is the older sister of my friend Madison Mitchell. I’ve been so blessed to have gotten to know the Mitchell family these past 9 years. Melissa is in the new revival cast and she is the Cosette understudy. And it just so happened that she went on as Cosette on Tuesday night (the week I was in town). So Madison got me a ticket. It was so incredible to see her shine on that stage. Melissa was brilliant! And it was so nice to go out after the show and catch up with both Mitchell sisters and two of their friends. I also saw “Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder” which was wonderful!! Such a clever, witty, and cute show. So simple and so good! And then the last show I saw was Disney’s “Aladdin.” There was something about this show that truly touched me. It was magical and beautiful. Watching the show made me want to be up on that stage. Courtney Reed is a fellow CCPA Theatre Conservatory Alum. I was fortunate enough to meet her after the show and talk a little bit. She is so lovely and incredibly talented. She was the perfect Jasmine. It was so inspiring to see a fellow Alum starring in a huge Disney Broadway Musical. So special.
Last weekend I had the privilege to sing a few songs with Donnie Singer at the piano at his weekly gig at The Wine Bar in Long Beach, CA. I had so much fun singing some great pop/rock tunes. Thank you Donnie for letting me sing with you.
Later that night I had the honor of meeting Bonnie Pointer (one of the original Pointer Sisters) and O’Malley Jones (who is now on tour).
Check out my youtube channel to watch a couple of short videos of me singing with Donnie by clicking here.
Yesterday I did a reading of the new musical “Princesses,” music, lyrics, and book by Erik Przytulski. My friend Katie Perry (who also did the reading) told me about the reading and I am so glad I was available to do it. I played the leading male of PRINCE (aka the Frog Prince). It was so nice to meet Erik and work with him. He is such a kind human being and is an incredible artist. “Princesses” has such a great message to share and the music is fun, touching, and beautiful. I look forward to seeing where this show will go.
Some more information on “Princesses” and its history:
Erik recently did a workshop of “Princesses” at a theatre festival where only 4 pieces were chosen out of 200 submissions (and Erik’s “Princesses” was one of the 4) and as a result, Erik got to workshop the piece in collaboration with Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, Children of Eden,etc.). Erik hopes to enter “Princesses” into some Musical Theatre Festivals this coming year such as NAMT and NYMF, to name a couple. He also wants to do a staged reading of the musical in Los Angeles. Good luck Erik!
At the beginning of January, 2014, I was asked to participate in an informal reading of the newest draft of the new musical Higher Education. I have been apart of the cast for Higher Education since it’s inception in the summer of 2012 (the first time the public got to hear this piece) in a staged reading at the Margaret A. Webb Theatre in Santa Ana, California. In the summer of 2013, the writers of the piece mounted the first production of the musical (at the same theatre). The show transformed a lot over the course of the year and changed even more when members of the cast and I read the newest version of the script a view weeks ago. This show has so much potential and a powerful message. I look forward to see where it will go from here and I hope the show will have a lot of success. Only time will tell, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one.
Here is the trailer for the first ever performance of Higher Education, mounted summer 2013.
Yesterday, December 13, 2013 I had the honor and privilege of participating in an informal reading in Hollywood of a new musical called The First Gentleman. This musical was written by the brilliant Bret Simmons and David Howard. The show is about Russell Cassidy, the First Gentleman and how he copes and deals with being “the First Gentleman” and how he helps his family through the never-ending publicity and knowledge that they are always being watched by the public and by the government. I played the role of Steven Cassidy, Kathryn and Russell’s son, a 15 year old who just wants to live a normal life and do what he pleases. Even though he’s a little rebellious and doesn’t think everything through (as most teenagers do) he has a good heart.
It was huge honor to be reading this show with so many established and professionally working actors in the industry. I greatly enjoyed doing this reading and talking with fellow actors afterwards. I am so grateful to Bret for contacting me for this reading. I cannot wait to see how the show develops from here and what the next steps are for the show’s trajectory.