Every year, tens of thousands of hopeful young singers, actors and dancers journey to New York City in the hopes of finding stardom on Broadway…or at least a job. Auditions abound and some will land spots in the chorus. Many will not and will struggle to pay their bills with odd jobs or by waiting tables.
Every now and then, one of those talented performers—and, make no mistakes, most are very talented—breaks out of the pack and fulfills that dream to perform on stage for enthusiastic audiences each night.
Callan Bergmann is one of the lucky, but he will be the first to admit it takes more than luck or karma to land that first job and, more importantly, build a career on Broadway. On July 8, the 29-year-old will share his stories in an intensive one-day musical theater masterclass with students at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Conservatory in Jupiter.
Bergmann, currently a cast member in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” describes himself as a “quadruple threat,” an actor who sings, dances AND tumbles.
Like the students he’ll be coaching, Bergmann was inspired at an early age.
“I grew up in a very small town and no one from where I was from did that…pursued theater for a living,” he recalled. “I wasn’t until late in my high school career that I decided to go to college for musical theater. The kids who live in larger cities have more opportunities for training, honing their skills.”
Bergmann was determined as a student at Point Park University.
“I felt like I was behind went I went to college and that pushed me to learn as fast as I could and as much as I could,” he said.
During his Jupiter workshop, Bergmann plans to teach common Broadway dance combinations before moving into singing and acting exercises and, of course, tips for auditioning. Many of the students will be auditioning for college and community and regional theater programs soon.
“A lot of kids move to the city and they expect it to be a lot easier than it is,” Bergmann warned. “You have to get your name in the mix and get in front of a lot of people. There are exceptions where a 19-year-old kid walks into an audition and books their first Broadway show, but it takes a while to be recognized in the community as a professional, someone a director or choreographer will be willing to take a risk on. If you can get a director or choreographer to take that risk with you, when you are given that opportunity, you have to be professional and work hard and have a great attitude, or you’ll be written off.”
Bergmann paused before adding, “Sometime it takes years or decades.”
Luckily for him, Bergmann landed his first role, the Off-Broadway premiere of “Lucky Guy the Musical,” quickly. Unfortunately for him, it closed a week and a half after opening.
“That’s a bit of a shock when it’s your first show. I was very young when this happened, but I didn’t get too discouraged. It motivated me more,” he said.
He soon nabbed a spot in “Silence the Musical,” a parody of the film, “Silence of the Lambs,” an Off-Broadway hit that would run two years. Then the big roles followed: He originated the role of Lewis and was the lead understudy in the first national tour of the Best Musical Revival, “Pippin.” His gymnastic skills certainly helped with that show. And currently, he takes the stage eight times a week in “Cats,” a “hard dance show, but it’s amazing to be part of that legacy.”
Bergmann also volunteers his time in the cast of “Broadway Bares,” the sexy burlesque show that raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an annual event he describes as his “number one favorite thing to be a part of…an opportunity to raise money for such a great cause helping thousands of people who are not able to help themselves.”
What’s next? Bergmann will find out after the next audition.
To learn more about the Maltz Jupiter Theatre and its conservatory program, go to JupiterTheatre.org.