by Tory Doctor
In putting together this weekend’s BIPOC reading, I came up against the standard obstacles. Last minute questions about recordings, actors’ first times with the script and concept… and my least favorite… the sudden unavailable actor(s). And while all reasons for their unavailability were valid and even encouraged… it put me in a rough spot. It was when I lost my actor for the role of Greymark, (arguably Off the Beaten Path’s most evil character) that I was most at a loss. I had no idea where to turn with only 7 days to find talent.
Now my stress release, it will come as no surprise, is singing songs from musicals. So, before combing through my friends list for talent, I opened my handy dandy Smule Karaoke app. I wanted to sing something dark and brooding… again. That’s when I saw that young Chance Evins had joined me in singing something from Jekyll and Hyde.
I kept thinking, “This young man has an emotional depth I would have died to possess at that age!” Couple that with his stunningly mature vocals and his kind, compassionate demeanor… It was then I knew exactly what to do.
Now, I don’t cast the show with actors under the age of 18. It’s been my rule since day one, (much to the dismay of many of my students). But alas, my rule was my rule and this rule was made to be broken. I offered him the role.
So last night I sat down with the incredibly professional and charming, Chance and his equally charming mother, Cassie over Zoom to discuss his passion for musicals and this opportunity.
Tory: Chance, thank you so very much for this sit-down. Can you tell me a bit about your passion for musical theatre and where it all started.
Chance: It started last year in New York with a class field trip. We went to the Majestic to see Phantom (of the Opera) and I was like, “Who wants to see an Opera?” But then it was the pyro, the music, guys jumping off the stage, the emotion… I was almost crying in my seat! I didn’t even know where the music was coming from until I looked down and saw the orchestra. I loved it.
Then I went home and started singing the music on my, (until then, little used) Smule account. The first song I sang was from Phantom.
Tory: What turned you on Off the Beaten Path?
Chance: That first reading. “It’s a Roll of the Dice” I freaking love that song! My friend, Karen (mine too, kid. Don’t hog her all to yourself) told me about the show. I watched it and it was one of the best three hours of my life. The emotional scenes are so emotional. And now I get to be a part of it and that’s freaking amazing!
Tory: What were you thinking when I offered you to be a part of the show?
Chance: I was confused. I was like, “You want me to watch it or do you want me to be in it?” And you said you wanted me to be in it I was like (astounded silence)… OKAY! I down for it. I’m down for the challenge.
Tory: Whats your favorite part of OBP?
Chance: The crying scenes. They can just instantly snap on and I’m like (weepy acting). Especially seeing Khulgar snap from a big strong guy to a teddy bear (played by the incomparable Kenny Babel)… amazing.
(It was then that Cassie, got into the frame as an upside down floating head. Cassie is a nurse that has more people in her immediate family than Khulgar can count. You can tell how much she loves her them all. She has the patience of a saint as they interrupt time and time again, every time she would steer them with a casual parental expertise that I found incredibly admirable. She easily gets emotional when discussing her children.)
Tory: Perfect timing! (Niceties exchanged… then…) When did you know your son had talent.
Cassie: He was 2 years old. I used to be the assistant manager at Best Buy and he was the “Best Buy Baby”. Baby sitters would come through and Chance would occupy himself with Rock Band. We would have to strap the guitar a certain way because it was so heavy and he was so little. And he would just play Rock Band for hours. And he was good at it! (The pride in her son in this moment made me choke up a lottle.)
Tory: Did you hear much about Off the Beaten Path before I offered him a role?
Cassie: Yeah. A couple of months ago, he was singing with his friend on this app. (Thanks again, Karen) and you commented or liked one of his songs and he went bonkers saying, “Oh my God, mom, do you know who this is?!”
No one knows who I am, Cassie… and that’s alright. But I’m sure the world will know who Chance is. And that’s because you have done an amazing job raising this talented, kind and thoughtful young man.