Monday, April 18, 2011

Q&A with Dane Agostinis

Hello again to all of our readers out there! Happy Spring to everyone. Spring has sprung, which means new beginnings. We have many new and exciting things going on with our show. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to a few new Cast Members who have joined us. This week, you get to meet our new “Beast”: Dane Agostinis. Dane was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. Beauty Blogger: Hi Dane, thanks for joining us. I guess we should start at the beginning. Where did you grow up/ where are you from?
Dane: I was born in Tampa, FL and three months later moved to a town called Milton, WA. My mom's family is from Tampa and my dad's family all live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. So, we moved to the greater Seattle area to be close to my dad's family, and because my mom transferred jobs. Then, the day after my 9th birthday, we moved back to Tampa. I lived in Tampa till I was 18 and moved to NYC for college and have lived there since 2002, so I've spent a fourth of my life in 3 of the 4 corners of the US. Looks like I'll need to move to LA for the next 9 years! (And I'm thinking about it!!)

Beauty Blogger: Wow, that’s a lot of places. So during that time, when did you realize that you wanted to do musical theater?
Dane: I had dabbled in some child acting/modeling when I was a kid.
But I never knew I wanted to pursue it as a career until freshman year in high school. That year, the drama program put on a show called Blood Brothers. I had been to see plays before at the TBPAC (Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) and Broadway when my mom and I would go to NYC, but something about this show flipped the switch in me and I was hooked! I auditioned for the next show sophomore year (because I didn't make the soccer team) and luckily got cast as a player in Pippin. That show will always hold a special place in my heart and I cannot wait till it gets revived on Broadway! Another huge factor in my wanting to become an actor, and something that I'm not ashamed to say, is when I first saw the show CATS at the TBPAC. For those who haven't seen the show, the cats all come out in the first number and dance down the aisles and interact with the audience a bit. Well, my mom's friend was working as an usher there and she scored a ticket for the aisle on the third row. I was the lucky one to use that seat and during the first song, Victoria, the cat in all white, came up to me and sat on my lap and "pawed" my hair and I knew from that moment on I'd be doing something in this field forever.

Beauty Blogger: So you were inspired by CATS, and now, years later, you’re in NY and you decide to audition for Beauty and the Beast. What was this audition process like?
Dane: If you ask most actors, they will tell you horror stories about auditions or their fear of them. I'm completely the opposite. I LOVE to audition. I just have an awesome time in them. Sure they are super important, but I tend to not let that worry me. I just go in knowing I'm able to play for the next few minutes with people that could lead to me playing for much longer with them in the future if things go well! This audition was just that way. There was also no pressure because I had heard that no one was leaving the tour and that the auditions were just for a backup file. This was in October and I went in and sang one of my favorite songs for a serious baritone role, “Where I Want To Be” from Chess. The associate director of the tour was there and called me back and after the callback he came up to me and said he really wanted me to bring the intensity I brought in the audition piece to the material they provided me from the show. He said, when I call you back, have it ready. So, since I was in the mindset that they weren't even looking for the role, I took his advice but didn't go crazy and obsess every day. It's a good thing too, because I didn't receive that callback till January of the next year! Then I went to a few callbacks and then got to the final ones and received very good feedback from the director and casting director. And then...I was told I should polish up for the final audition in front of the producers and everyone. I TOTALLY agreed. I was wearing a faded shirt that is now in a trash dump somewhere and just not put together. (I had just come back from vacationing in Canada and it was my first audition back, so I wasn't off vacation mode!) I took their advice and went to get a haircut, buy some clothes get better shoes from my closet and went back all in 3 hours! It was a good thing I did. I got the job and am on the beginning stretch of what is already proving to be an amazing experience.

Beauty Blogger: These days, getting a job is a big deal, especially for an actor for a tour as big as this one. It’s huge news. So, who is the first person you called when you found out that you were offered your role?
Dane: My mom, Karen. She has always been behind me for everything and especially in this career. This is by far the biggest role/job I've had so I couldn't wait to tell her! She also tends to ask many questions if I don't provide the info before, so I've learned just to tell her as soon as I know! Ha-ha love you, Mom!

Beauty Blogger: What part of the job are you most excited about?
Dane: Besides the work: (because I LOVE the work). Being the Beast is an amazing opportunity and I'm so grateful I have the chance to do this everyday. I'm very excited to travel the country and see places that I've never seen before. I'm very adaptable and can usually make the best of any situation, so the traveling gypsy life is a good fit for me! I'm also looking forward to performing for my friends and family all over the country and continent because some of them haven't seen me perform before. That's going to be very special to me.

Beauty Blogger: I’m sure your friends and family are as excited to see you in the show as you are to see them. But first, you had to learn the show. Why don’t you tell me about your rehearsal process.
Dane: Rehearsals started in New York a week before I was to fly out to LA with the new Belle and Gaston. We rehearsed at Chelsea Studios every day and it was a surreal and amazing experience to walk into that building knowing that I was already employed and wasn't going into a room full of countless hopefuls all vying for the same roles! Across the hallway was said auditioning and I'm so thankful I wasn't part of that! It was a madhouse! The rehearsals were great in NY because the Associate Director, Sam, is one of my most favorite directors I've ever worked with. He and I hit it off from the beginning and seemed to be on the same wavelength regarding the character and everything, so it was an absolute joy to work with him!
I was also very fortunate to be entering into this monster of a show/role with a brand new Belle. She and I were involved in a reading of a musical put on by the Associate Director of this show a week before the rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast started, so that served as the “getting to know you” period. Having her here with me and put into the show at the same time was invaluable! When we got to LA, things kicked into high gear!! We were rehearsing during the day, watching the show at night, meeting the cast, crew and musicians, going to fittings, basically doing everything to get ready for the show in two weeks’ time. The time we spent in NY was very beneficial because we basically learned the show there, and then all the other factors came into effect when it got closer to showtime. And, to open in LA the final weekend was the most wonderful experience so far! The buzz around town was definitely in the air and people were lining up down the block to get tickets. It also didn't hurt that Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Suri came to see our first show that Friday night either!

Beauty Blogger: LA was no doubt an exciting time. It’s been a few weeks since you started now. Do you have a favorite moment in the show yet?
Dane: It's constantly changing! But right now my favorite moment is the 2nd bedroom scene where I'm waiting for Belle to come to dinner! I get to flex some comedy chops and have an absolute blast doing it! Up to that point I'm nothing but scary and I can feel the audience relax a bit to me when I make them laugh. There are moments like that all over this show that I can let go and have fun and the library scene in the second act is quickly becoming a contender for favorite! It's the moment that Emily (Belle) and I can really connect. It's really rewarding to do that every night! She is such a gem of a person and I'm truly honored to have her as a partner!

Beauty Blogger: Is there anything else that you’d like to add, before we say goodbye?
Dane: There's plenty I'd like to say, but I'll give the eyes of our readers a break and just say this: I wish I had scenes with the other characters! I really want a scene for Lefou and Beast! I envision him getting sick of Gaston and finding my castle in the woods and hiding around living like a different object every other day. We'd become friends and it'd be hilarious. Andrew, our Lefou, is just wonderful and I'd love us to interact! It looks like Dane is settling in nicely. Dane mentioned Emily who has joined the tour playing “Belle”. We’ll be introducing her to you very soon, so keep checking back for updates. And don’t forget to keep checking for more news and schedule updates.

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