Where are you from? I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Then I lived in New York for a bit. Then moved to Orlando to go to high school.
Broadway credits: The Secret Garden (Colin), Curtains, The Little Mermaid (u/s Prince Eric), Billy Elliot (u/s Tony), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Evita
How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was ten years old, and my agent got an appointment for me to audition for The Secret Garden in New York. So my mom and I booked a round-trip flight to New York. The evening after the final callback, my mother received a message on her beeper (I know) to call the stage manager. So we went down to the lobby of the Hotel Astoria and used the payphone to call the PSM. They told her, “Cancel your flight home; Austin starts his first rehearsal tomorrow.” We were in absolute shock. I was so excited and too young to be nervous. I made my Broadway debut on Halloween 1992. I always like to take a moment to celebrate that feeling each year. There’s nothing quite like your Broadway Debut.
What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? I love the Broadway Flea Market, which takes place once a year and benefits BC/EFA. If you’ve never been, it’s a Broadway-themed flea market and auction. I’m a bit of a hoarder, so it’s a great way to donate stuff from old shows I’m not using…and then acquire new stuff!
What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? How small and tight-knit the community is, even in a city as huge as New York. I like to call midtown “campus” because you are bound to run into 3 people you know during your walk from the subway to the stage door. Once you’ve done your first show, you are bound to know at least a handful of people on your next show. Whether it’s another actor, stage manager, dresser, hairstylist, or stagehand, we become one big family that travels from theater to theater.
What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Well I’m on a bit of a hiatus from New York teaching for Penn State University. I am really enjoying my time back on a college campus. I am learning so much about anatomy, dance history, advances in teaching pedagogy, classical music and literature. I love learning, and this job has given me a lot of resources to progress as both a teacher and an artist.
If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Martha Stewart. I would be so nervous, but I just love her. She’s tough, but she has a wicked sense of humor. Plus, I would have a long list of questions for her regarding cleaning, baking, and craft ideas.
If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… Bill T. Jones. I am currently obsessed with him. I think his work is just extraordinary, important and impactful. I would want to wake up early, sit at his desk and read whatever fabulous research he has done in preparation for rehearsal that day. Then I would want to walk into the dance studio with his amazingly expressive and brave dancers for a day full of raw WORK. Mr. Jones is very serious about his process and “the work.” To have the opportunity to collaborate with dancers and artists at the top of their craft on material that can deeply affect the audience in profound ways…now that’s my idea of a perfect day.
To be successful in this business, it takes… Dedication and passion. That means going to class every week, showing up for your third open call this week even though you have an agent. It means respecting the work you do and the process of collaborating to make a great theatrical experience for the audience. That’s easy to do when the show runs for a month, but when you are on year 2 or 3, it’s the passion for what you do that makes someone successful/happy to be there.
Tell us a secret. I really want an eyebrow piercing and platinum blonde hair. It may look terrible, but I’ve always been curious. So don’t be surprised if someday (maybe in my 40’s) I just go ahead and do it.