From Utah to Broadway: Actors with Utah ties share Broadway stages in 'Cinderella' and 'Les Miz'

Published: Monday, June 16 2014 10:50 a.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, June 16 2014 11:07 a.m. MDT

Pew: “My training at BYU was definitely an integral part of my journey as a performer that has led me to be able to perform on Broadway. Voice lessons, dance classes and acting classes in the Music Dance Theatre program helped shape me into the artist that I am today. Sometimes I wish I could go back and work harder and take it all more seriously, but I suppose I’m doing OK so far.”

When people learn that you studied performance in Utah, how do they respond?

Nelson: “In recent years, the Broadway community has come to recognize the value of a Utah-based training. Utah performers are often easily pinpointed in the community. When I arrived in New York City clean-cut, fresh-pressed and bright-eyed, people said, ‘Of course that kid is from Utah.’ Utahns foster an unmistakable combination of self-discipline, accountability, hard work and enthusiasm. These are worthwhile and natural complements to the rigorous requirements of a Broadway actor.”

Pew: “The program at BYU has a good reputation of producing solid talent. I feel confident putting BYU on my resume and in my bio as the place where I’ve trained. Most people in the industry recognize BYU as a well-respected musical theater program.”

What advice do you have for Utah actors with Broadway aspirations?

Nelson: “Take the time to visit New York City and Broadway multiple times. See performances and the way they are cast, and plan objectively how you would fit into the puzzle that makes a spectacular show. Additionally, consider how your own experiences and ideas can create worthwhile material for the Broadway stage. Utah has terrific regional theaters like Pioneer Theatre Company and the Tuacahn Amphitheatre that hire New York actors. Take these golden opportunities to work with and observe them.”

Pew: “For anyone wanting to pursue a career in show business, I would say, ‘Go to dental school!’ No, I think sticking with it is the biggest key. Don’t move to New York or Los Angeles for six months and then give up if nothing has happened. Stick around. Let people get to know you, and allow time to be your ally. Little by little, casting directors, choreographers, music directors, directors and people in the business will get to know you. And be nice. Nobody wants to work with a jerk.”

Along with Elder, Swenson, Settle, Pew and Nelson, these other Utahns also have recent high-profile professional theater credits.

Talon Ackerman: “Bonnie & Clyde” (opposite Elder) and “Leap of Faith” on Broadway.

Natalie Hill: "Wonderland," "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Grease" on Broadway, Las Vegas company of "Jersey Boys," "The Most Happy Fella" at Goodspeed Opera House

Jeff McLean: “Legally Blonde” first national tour, “Tales of the City” premiere at American Conservatory Theater, “Spamalot” Nevada original cast

Preston Sadleir: Edward Albee’s “Me, Myself & I” off-Broadway premiere, “Next to Normal” first national tour

Danny Stiles: "Leap of Faith" (opposite Ackerman), "Sister Act" and "Wonderland" (opposite Hill) on Broadway, "Parade" and "Li'l Abner" at Musical Theatre Guild

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