Hometown: Nashville, TN
Current Residence: New York, NY
Current Profession: Actor/Advertising Art Director
How did you become involved with the theater?
I was very involved in music and theater when I was at Rhodes. Tony Lee Garner, who passed away in 1998, was my advisor and an important mentor for me. He was the director of what was then Southwestern Singers. I did four shows at Rhodes and studied voice with Diane Clark. Although I loved the theater department at Rhodes, I never really thought about going into it as a profession because I wanted to go into advertising. Now I do both – I often freelance as an art director as my “day job.”
I started getting back into theater in the late 90s, when I was living in Minneapolis. A friend of mine was taking some acting classes, and I was starting to miss it. I started to do some community theater and ease my way back in. In 1998, I quit my art directing job to become an actor full time, moved to New York eventually, and have been acting professionally ever since. But my jobs vary based on what’s most available. Sometimes advertising work is easier to come by. Last year, I was an art director full time.
Do you have a favorite project in either advertising or acting?
I played Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd during my junior year at Rhodes, and it still stands out as one of my favorites. I particularly remember the song “Not While I’m Around,” which was absolutely beautiful. This show was meaningful for me because it was the first time I was involved in something of such a professional caliber. The department brought Memphis theater professionals to the college as well, so we all had the chance to work with many, many amazing people.
I recently got to watch a DVD of the performance, and it was very surreal, probably because I had never seen a taped version before. It was a great little piece of magic to be able to watch the production objectively.
Tell me about life after you graduated from Rhodes.
After graduation, I lived in Memphis for about six months, and then attended art school in Atlanta for two years. I visit Rhodes periodically, but when I visited for my 25th reunion two years ago, I hadn’t seen the campus in about ten years. It seemed both current and nostalgic. I realized that all the students on campus hadn’t even been born when I was a student all those years ago!
When you came back for the reunion, did you notice any big changes?
I’d say half looked the same and half looked different. The library is amazing. I was thrilled to walk around, especially to see McCoy Theater. It was built when I was a freshman. It was nice to see the older buildings as well, and to find the dorms I lived in when I was a student. Basically, it’s expanded, but still feels like the same place.
How do you stay connected with Rhodes from New York City?
I have been on several reunion committees, and I’ve designed the invitations for my 5th and 25th reunions, which has been a lot of fun. I still stay in touch with one of my great friends, David, who owns a gallery in Memphis. He and his wife came up recently and saw the musical I’m doing off Broadway, Silence! The Musical (the musical parody of Silence of the Lambs).
Part of my Tennessee connection stems from the fact that I’m from Nashville, and my aunt and uncle used to live in Memphis. They’ve since moved, so I don’t have family in Tennessee anymore, but I still have a strong emotional connection to Tennessee, to Memphis, and to Rhodes.