Performer and director Kristoffer Cusick shares how we went from performing in Broadway musicals (Wicked, If/Then, First Date and more) to becoming the Resident Director of Broadway's School of Rock.
I've been performing professionally since I was 12 years old. It started with a career in dance that quickly expanded into singing and acting on the West Coast, Japan and Europe. When I got my Equity card doing the 1st National Tour of Rent, I took over as the dance captain on the production and immediately found myself straddling the performing and creative worlds. That experience left me curious about working on the "other side" of the table, directing, and being a part of the creative team.
It took many more years performing on Broadway and in film and television before a successful producer friend suggested that I explore directing and see about assisting on a show. At that same time my friend, Laurence Connor, had just finished directing School of Rock on Broadway and was preparing to start putting up the UK production in the West End. He asked if I'd be interested in coming to watch him direct the show in London and shadow him and his Associate Director. I jumped at the opportunity and spent several weeks in the fall of 2016 absorbing and learning as much as I could while they mounted another awesome and successful production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new hit musical.
In the early part of this year I split my time watching Laurence direct the revival of Miss Saigon on Broadway and Michael Greif direct War Paint with Pati Lupone and Christine Ebersole. These directors generosity and the past year spent observing them and learning on these diverse and amazing shows was invaluable to my preparation to take on this role as the new Resident Director of School of Rock. I feel very fortunate and excited to have this show be my first Resident Directing job and to be working with the current Associate Director, David Ruttura, and the rest of the brilliant creative team.
While I am not ready to hang up my hat when it comes to performing or continuing to act, I think my background as an ensemble and principle actor in numerous Broadway productions will serve me well in my ability to guide other actors in a way that only directors who have been on stage as performers could possibly understand. There are several directors ...Jerry Mitchell, Joe Mantello, Casey Nicholaw, Andy Blankenbuehler, and Laurence Connor, just to name a few.....whose performing start has lent to their brilliance as directors. They serve as inspiration to me and to my belief that it is never to late to explore or learn new things and that you never have to choose only one path as an artist. There are no rules when it comes to this business. I have been around long enough to taste and enjoy some sweet success and to feel the sting and disappointment of rejection and dry spells. Most of all, I have learned that the journey is the most special part of it all and I am enjoying the ride.
Listen to our episode on Resident Directors here.