Today on our blog, we welcome some of the ensemblists from the new musical The Cher Show to Broadway and learn about their journeys to the Great White Way.
MICHAEL GRACEFFA (ENSEMBLE)
HOMETOWN: WALTHAM, MA
“I had just flown back to Los Angeles on a Monday night after my final callback in New York City. I was on tour with Aladdin, and I had to rush to make it back for a Tuesday show. The call woke me up from bed and I just started crying.
“Besides the feeling of having my dreams come true and having my mother cheer me on in the audience, I’m most looking forward to the consistency I’ll get on Broadway. I’ve been on three tours and a bundle of regional gigs the past five years. I’ve been extremely transient and have missed friends, family, routine, and, most of all, the sense of home. I’m excited to plant my roots and grow!”
TIANA OKOYE (ENSEMBLE)
HOMETOWN: RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA
“I got a call from my agent after a long morning of teaching group fitness. He just started crying and said he’d been waiting years to deliver this phone call and tell me I booked Broadway! I was completely shocked because the team actually flew to Los Angeles for the auditions, so I booked it from home. Unreal.
“I am obviously incredibly excited to meet Cher, but getting to originate a role in a Broadway show is a dream.”
MICHAEL TACCONI (ENSEMBLE)
HOMETOWN: BUCKS COUNTY, PA
“I had moved out to Los Angeles after living in New York for five years. I had been feeling really burnt out in New York and kept getting really close to things to then have them not go my way. I needed to shake off the city and try something different, so I moved out to LA not really knowing anyone or where I’d live. Ultimately, it became what ended up being a year break from acting. I was trying to get things going out West, but in the meantime, I met new friends, reconnected with old ones, and spent a lot of time alone diving into a new city. Out of the blue, I got an email from my old agent in New York saying an audition for The Cher Show came through for me. I hadn’t had an audition in ages and hadn’t been singing, so it was like this gift just got dropped in my lap.
“That was a Monday night and I remember the final callback was a Wednesday morning, so I almost didn’t make a tape, because it didn’t seem like I’d be able to fly in for the final audition anyway. After a couple of phone calls, the team said I should make one anyway. I went to my friend’s apartment, sang ‘I Got You Babe’ in his living room with his dogs walking in and out of frame, did the scenes, and just had the best time. It felt really right. The next day, I got a call saying make another tape, incorporate these couple notes, and send it to us by tomorrow. So I made it happen. Thursday morning they called and said, ‘Get to New York for Monday morning. The team wants to see you and they want you to add this packet and this additional character, Rob.’ I bought a ticket, my mom came and met me in the city the night before and ran lines with me (which I normally NEVER allow), and I went in the next day. It was the most fun audition I’ve ever had.
“Everything just fit. Two weeks went by. I was back in LA, working at my retail job slowly dying inside, when I got a phone call from my agent. I dropped what I was doing and ran out front to pick it up. It was all the good news I was hoping it would be, and I felt like Will Smith at the end of The Pursuit of Happiness except it was WeHo and everyone passing me was drinking matcha lattes. I put in my notice that day and was on a plane back to New York to start rehearsals two weeks later.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of being a swing. I’m not a dancer, so covering some of the best dancers I’ve ever seen in addition to my principal covers is WAY beyond what I perceive to be what I’m capable of doing. But it’s sink or swim baby, and I’m actually given the chance to be in the water, so I’m pumped to become the actor I am on the other side.”