Brandyn, as I’ve mentioned, you’ve done a lot of musical theatre, tell us what you like about doing straight (and by that I mean non-musicals) plays? Do you prefer one over the other?
Musicals, by nature, have got to be big and over the top; that’s what drives the characters to sing and dance. What I love about straight plays is the realism. The characters are much more true to life. You also get much more time to delve into them. In a musical it’s all song and dance, and by the time you’ve learnt those there’s very little time left for discovery. Also, I’m a very subtle person by nature, so it’s nice to be able to relax and not have to overact for a change. I don’t think I really prefer one over the other. My training is in Musical Theatre, so I definitely find that I do more musicals, and I do absolutely love getting caught up in the fantasy of it all, but if I didn’t get to sink my teeth into a good play every once in a while, I think I would go mad.
What is your favourite role to date and why?
It’s really tough to pick a “favourite”. I’ve had the fortune of playing a variety of exciting roles. I suppose if I had to pick one, I would pick Napoleon in the Man of Destiny... no... Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. Yes, Seymour. I have a few “dream roles” that I absolutely need to play before I die, and Seymour is definitely one of them. It’s such a fun role, and a far more challenging one than I had first expected. While it was very easy to identify with him, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people, being surrounded by a cast of over-the-top characters, it’s can be very easy to get caught up in that excitement and thus lose the honesty of the role. It’s Seymour’s journey that drives the show and so he has to stay very grounded to keep him relatable, but at the same time, he can’t be boring either. So, it was a lot of fun trying to walk that fine line.
I don't know when, where or why this picture was taken but I had to include it. Ok, now tell us your “I wanna be an actor” story…
I think I may be the only person in this show who always knew he wanted to be an actor... My grandmother took me to see The Phantom of the Opera when I was 11 and I was completely spellbound. (Within the week I had memorized the entire soundtrack) When I got to high school I was cast in the role of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol and I fell in love with the whole process, from the first rehearsal to the last bow. I just couldn’t get over the fact that someone might pay me to do that one day.
How do you relate (or not) to your character, Nips, in the play?
I’ve been told I’m closer to Nips than I thought I was, though I do relate to aspects of him. Above all else, Nips wants to be loved and accepted, which is something I think we can all relate to. But, I think I had much more in common with him when I was 20 than I do now. Nips has a very contented feel to him. He has no great aspirations in life. He wants to get married, have kids, retire, and grow old. And, coming from a small town, that’s exactly how I was. But, since moving to Vancouver and going to theatre school, my goals have changed some. So, in trying to relate to Nips, I have had to tap into that younger version of me; which has actually been a lot of fun. I get a chance to see just how much one can grow and change in such a short time.
Why should people come out to see Prodigals?
Because it has something for everyone. Sean has done a fantastic job of writing six very different and completely developed characters. A lot of shows have one or two principal roles that the audience is meant to relate to, surrounded by a cast of characatures, but with Prodigals, each character has their own arc and their own journey. It also has a bit of everything in it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be very, very awkward at times.... just like in real life.
If you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, those just starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would it be?
Stick with it. There really is nothing like it in the world. Performing can be one of the most exciting and rewarding things in the world, but it can also be one of the most difficult and discouraging. The road is not going to be easy, it’s probably not even going to be kind of easy, but what it is, is worth it. I’m gonna throw a quote on here that is much more eloquent than anything I could ever come up with, and we’ll see if it makes it to the blog…
The quote uncut:
"Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get “real” jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. But they stay true to their dream, in spite of the sacrifices. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes."
Greate quote, Brandyn! Thanks for chatting with us. Our first Preview performance is tonight at the Havana. It’s $10 and starts at 8pm. Come down and check it out.
See you at the Havana!