by Vince Oddo
It's late July 2015 and the beginning of Act Two of the new Broadway musical Amazing Grace. I am on for the lead role, one I have done countless times. As directed, I take the prop Bible that has just been thrown to me and slam it in indignation after reading a passage—SNAP! The adrenaline kicks in, the pain follows and I look down at my left index finger which is most definitely broken and bent sideways. We finish the scene, I snap my finger back in place, grab some medical tape, and wrap my finger up because I am going to finish my story. I understand that I may never have an opportunity like this ever again. My name is Vince Oddo and this is a little bit of my journey as an Ensemblist.
I moved to New York, far less connected since I didn’t go to one of the ‘Top Schools.' But one thing I did have on everyone else (secret time) was that I simply did not accept NO for an answer. I have kicked down every door that’s been in front of me because I know that there aren’t many willing to crack it open. I fight everyday for what I believe in, work every day on my craft in one way or another, and I HATE doing things that I don’t believe in.
Post Amazing Grace, there were plenty of opportunities to hop into new shows that needed someone like me. I chose not to, for a multitude of reasons: I didn’t like the opportunity, I didn’t like how I was being pigeon holed into a specific type, and I really didn’t want to be in a show just to have a job and feel like scenery. So, I got a job as a waiter, and I kept waiting for opportunities that spoke to me. I only accepted auditions from creative teams that I knew were well respected, not because of the projects they had done, but because of who they were as people, artists, and how I could contribute to the room. I want to be happy, challenged, and be respected as a fellow artist.
It was the hardest decision I have ever made, and I struggle with it everyday still.
The rare occasion came with Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC. I was to audition for the ensemble, have a song to prepare and one of my own. A quick audition process and boom we are in first day of rehearsal; twelve hand picked actors by director David Leveaux to work with John Legend in pre production. At the top of rehearsal David said to our small group, “Many of you in this room may think you’ve been looked over, that you are waiting to step into the light, that you’re waiting to show the world what you can do. To me, you all already shine, have talents in the light, and for that reason, you are here to bring your gifts.”
I most definitely cried, understood that sometimes decisions are tough, and for that rare moment, I found what I was looking for.