Musician and Broadway actor Tony Vincent visited the students of Act Two at Levine’s Pre-Professional Program for a master class on their upcoming production of American Idiot that will run from January 15-17, 2016.
American Idiot was conceived by Green Day and their award winning album of the same name was adapted for the stage in 2009. Tony Vincent originated the role of St. Jimmy, the alter-ego and addiction of main character, Johnny who tries to find himself throughout the entirety of the show.
According to Vincent, he knew St. Jimmy had to be “a loner but dangerous, seemingly stable on the inside but pointed and smart, and tangible to the audience.” It was with these frames of reference that he was able to help Act Two students hone in on exactly how they were moving on stage and what intention was behind it.
“Tony Vincent is unlike many of the guests we’ve had working with our pre-professional students,” said Act Two at Levine’s Artistic Director, Kevin Kuchar. “His feedback was extremely relatable not only because the piece was relevant to his own career but because he was able to help the students make small changes to their on-stage choices that will greatly benefit the overall value of the production.”
A major point Tony hit home with the students was the use of weight on stage and authenticity to take audiences on a journey during a performance. He explained how finding a reason to move beyond given stage direction was a crucial element to the success of the story.
“At the base level, it’s so important to be present and authentic on stage at all time. That will engage other actors; it will make their responses authentic, and real and relevant, and you have a chance to take audiences on a journey.” Vincent continued, “If you’re just ‘acting’ you’re not touching a single person in the audience and if you can grasp that, you’re well on their way to being a very talented individual.”
Throughout the workshop, students were asked to reflect on why they made certain choices on stage. He was against the uncommitted or unspecific and was able to work one-on-one with some of the cast members, including the student playing Vincent’s former role.
“I was nervous going into it but [Tony’s] feedback was very constructive,” said senior Riley Lopez who plays Vincent’s character St. Jimmy and performed his introductory song. “I know I have to work on this part and I’ve now been set on the right track.”
Other students relished at the fact that by taking the time to figure out their on-stage intention, they were able to see more of what was going on around them. That “ah ha” moment came very quickly for many of the students in the program.
Ultimately, Tony Vincent taught students of the pre-professional program to utilize every opportunity they have to learn and grow. “Be around people that challenge you; actors who are better than you…learn from them,” he said. “But be aware of what’s happening around you and keep yourself open to learning at all times.”
Act Two at Levine will perform American Idiot from January 15-17, 2016 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. For more information on Act Two at Levine, the Pre-Professional Program, and events such as American Idiot, visit Levine Music’s website.