Since 1995, Camp Broadway has provided theater-loving kids with authentic Broadway experiences, and is proud to employ Broadway professionals working in all aspects of the industry. Our creative team of choreographers, music directors, and featured players is comprised of professionals with Broadway credits who bring their experience and expertise to the company, allowing us to immerse campers in a realistic Broadway rehearsal process. We love checking in with our staff during the year to learn about all of the exciting projects they’re involved in. We recently caught up with CB Featured Player, Ariel Seidman-Wright, who worked with our Shining Stars this past summer. Ariel can currently be seen as Pasty (u/s Polly) in Crazy For You at the Gateway Theatre in Vancouver until December 31. Immediately following her run in Crazy For You, Ariel will fly back to New York City to join Camp Broadway again, this time as one of our Featured Players for Courtside at the Barclays Center program from January 2-3!
What shows/projects have you been working on since we saw you this past summer at Camp Broadway with our Shining Stars?
Since working with the Shining Stars this summer, my main focus had been teaching dance at Tribeca’s Downtown Dance Factory, especially since I needed to prepare my students for working with new teachers in my absence Nov-Jan. (to do Crazy For You). I also got very busy with my photography business, since a lot of my clients wanted to get in for a headshot session before I left town.
How did you get involved in this production?
Julie Tomaino was the choreographer of Crazy For You, and she was a teacher of mine at AMDA in 2009. She posted audition information on instagram, and I asked if I could send in a video submission. Turns out the director (Barbara Tomasic) and music director (Christopher King) were on vacation in NYC at the time, so Julie got in touch with them. They rented a studio at Ripley-Grier and basically gave me a private audition where I sang two songs, read some scenes, and tapped. This was in May, and then in July they offered me a spot as a Follies girl. In August, Barb emailed me asking me to put an “Adelaide from Guys and Dolls” kind of character voice on tape, and after I did that, I was offered the role of Patsy, the ditzy Follies girl who speaks like that.
Every summer at Camp Broadway, our campers get a sneak peek into what a real Broadway rehearsal process is like, Can you tell us what the rehearsal process for Crazy For You was like?
The rehearsal process was pretty intense at the beginning, because we learned 75% of all the choreography in the first week. A lot of the choreography is based around intricate rhythms, and there’s a lot of partnering and tricks, so working through a high energy 8 minute number like “I Got Rhythm” with a cast of 24 was quite an experience. We rehearsed 6 days a week, but learning the role of Polly (which I’m understudying) was completely on my own time. Most understudy contracts include some kind of put-in rehearsals, but that wasn’t the case with this show. I also spent a fair amount of time practicing a violin part because the director wanted me to play onstage for one of the numbers. That was eventually cut because of scene changes- a good reminder that you always have to stay flexible in this business.
How do you like performing in Vancouver? Is this your first time there?
Performing in Vancouver is really interesting. I grew up in Victoria (a 1.5 hour ferry boat ride away) so the city isn’t new to me, but I’ve never been involved with the theatre scene here. There are only a couple of theatres here that produce big musicals like this, and Crazy For You has been very well received by audiences and critics. From a personal view, it’s been really wonderful to be doing a show so close to my hometown. Family and friends have come to multiple shows, and I was able to teach a workshop at my old high school on a day off.
Can you tell us about your character in Crazy For You?
I play a character named Patsy, who is described in the script as “a dumb showgirl with a squeaky voice.” Critics have called me “lovable and ditzy”. I have a lot of fun playing such a brassy character, and most of my lines are silly jokes/one-liners. Ken Ludwig’s libretto revolves around farce and slapstick comedy, so it’s a great chance to make big, almost cartoon-like choices. The show is set in 1931, so there are very specific ways that a Follies dancer (or any lady) would carry herself, but broad comedy allows me to stretch those rules a little. I’m in most of the ensemble dance numbers, but I also have a number of comedic bits like trying to teach the Cowboys how to dance.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a performer?
Like many of us in this industry, I have basically been performing my whole life, singing songs from my stroller and putting on shows in the living room. I started taking dance classes when I was 4, and trained in a variety of styles throughout my youth. I also started playing violin at that age, and studied classical music for over ten years. High school was the place where I had the chance to be in musicals, and that’s really when I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in Theatre. I’m very fortunate that my parents were supportive of that decision. I attended AMDA in New York City and followed my conservatory time with two years at The New School, where I received my BFA in Musical Theatre. During that time I performed with a handful of different theatre and dance companies, and taught dance-particularly Tap, with a number of different studios.
I’m constantly working to grow as an actor, especially in Musical Theatre, where you have to juggle so many skills. For me, whether I’m speaking, singing, or dancing, it just boils down to the thrill of telling a story.
What advice can you give to our campers who want to perform professionally when they’re older?
The ultimate advice I would offer is to work hard and stay humble. I have had so many incredible mentors and teachers along the way, and I think it’s important to try and study with a variety of people with different backgrounds. Also, I would tell young kids to never let fear hold them back. So often we are our own harshest critics, and the amount of rejection in this business can be tough to stomach. Showing up is half the battle. Show up, give it all you got, and move on. Find what makes you happy and follow it, full out, no marking. The performers I admire most don’t get hung up on vanity and petty competition, but rather put that energy into moving forward and just doing the work. Also STRETCH! Warm up! Take care of your voice and your body, you only get one!
We’re so excited for the Camp Broadway Kids to perform at the Barclays Center, and for you to join us as a Featured Player for this program! Are you looking forward to the event? Do you think this is a good opportunity for young performers? Why?
I’m very excited to the event at the Barclays Center! I think this is a great opportunity for the Camp Broadway kids because it’s major exposure in a fun atmosphere. Every chance to perform is a great learning experience.