Meet Chad Parsons!
A talented Philadelphia actor, director and acting teacher – Chad keeps himself busy with his own personal artistic endeavors as well as enriching the talents of our students in various acting and musical theater classes at Limelight. In addition – he has directed many shows at both Limelight and our own West Chester Summer Stage. His high energy, big smile and enthusiasm for working with his cast and students sets him apart – he truly wants each actor to reach their absolute best performance in every single production. We found it only fitting to let Chad “Step Into The Limelight” – we hope you learn a thing or two from this veteran performer. Enjoy!
Welcome Chad! You might be one of the busiest Actors/Directors in the Philly area – what are you working on now?
I am currently Directing Seussical The Musical here at Limelight and I couldn’t be more excited. Last year was an incredible first season with Broadway Bound, Annie Jr., Grease and Little Mermaid – but this year it’s all about Seussical for the Fall Series and most exciting is the introduction of our first Professional production with many of the area’s most talented, professional actors. What’s even more exciting is we cast several young artists to join the cast – it’s an incredible experience for them to be onstage and in the presence of working professionals. It will be like an acting intensive for them every rehearsal. I’m interested to see how they will grow as a result of this experience – they are already hugely talented kids but trust me – they will grow!
That is so exciting. At what point in your life did you decide “this is my profession” and fully commit to being a working professional?
After a year at Mansfield University studying Elementary Education (following in my parents footsteps) I had a moment when I found out that Mansfield was making big cuts to the theatre program and one of the cuts included the yearly musical. The thought of not being able to perform killed me . . . So I left. It was at this moment I really decided to push forward and pursue a passion that I had no idea where it was going to take me. I knew I was going to have tough times, I heard it about a MILLION times from my parents. But I made a decision to immerse myself into theatre. I still struggle with performing vs. behind the scenes as to which one I “like” more, and the truth is, I love it all. I love how we as artists interpret characters and story. How we show our audience what we want them to see. That fascinates me.
Along those lines…If you’re not acting, you’re directing and vice versa – what is the most rewarding to you personally?
That is a tough question because I LOVE sharing a character with an audience. But I found Directing to be more rewarding for me. Because it’s like my head explodes on the stage. And it’s a really cool feeling to see it come to life. You sit back and smile because you have an awesome cast with an amazing production team that all collaborated together to make this fully realized show. And sometimes you have no words for that but “Thank You”.
For the young actors who perform in our productions, or who decide to enroll in a class to further their education: what is the one thing you want them to get out of the experience that will benefit them in the future? What do you really want to see more of from them as well?
I want my students to walk away knowing that hard work pays off. Focus pays off. You learn so much about yourself and others as a theatre professional. I want them to learn about who they are. Regardless if you continue to pursue theatre as a profession or not, you will always remember the times you had when you were “in a show.”
As a seasoned performer who auditions a lot – AND – a working director who auditions actors a lot: What advice can you give new actors on the audition process? How should they prepare, approach and execute the audition?
To quote Billy Porter “When you get to a certain level. Everybody can sing, everybody can dance, everybody can act and EVERYBODY is cute . . . You have to find out what makes you stand out, what makes you special.” You will never be the person next to you or 10 people in front of you who you just heard belt her face off and you know you don’t sound like that. Don’t let that intimidate you! From experience being on the other side of the table, the director is looking for his/her vision of the character. You must always bring YOU. How do you prepare to audition?. . . AUDITION! You learn so much every time you go on an audition, no matter what the outcome is. Of course you should always be prepared and research the show you’re going in for. And make sure you prepare anything that is specifically asked of you.
Be honest – when you are directing someone and you offer a specific way to read a line – do you want them to just say it the way you said it while having them believe they thought of it?
Partially . . . but I want more the essence of what/how I say the line. I usually give line readings to the younger students who are not yet willing to come out and say things using their intentions.
Let’s change gears and focus on you as the actor:
What was your favorite role and where did you perform it?
My favorite role was Mendel in Fiddler on the Roof at Fulton Opera House.
What a great venue and show – Fiddler always seems to be at the top of list for many an actor. Share with us a little – If we were to see you backstage minutes before your entrance – what would we find you doing?
If it’s my first entrance in the show I am super focused and in a zone, and running through things in my head. Sometimes I start to walk around backstage physically getting into character. But once we start rolling I’m a little more relaxed backstage but overall I’m quiet and stay focused on the show that’s going on so I don’t miss a cue (which I have done before so I have learned my lesson). It happened to be while I was talking about a person who had just missed their cue . . . so Karma!
Have you ever been cast in a role where despite all your preparation – you never fully felt like you were doing your best work?
YES! I was cast as MacDuff in “MacBeth” It was COMPLETELY outside my comfort zone. But it was one of the most rewarding experiences in the end. I never felt like I connected fully to it in moments, and wish I had more time and training to fully develop what I only felt like I was skimming the surface of.
You landed the role – what comes next – character development and preparation or memorizing those lines?
UGH! I am SO BAD at memorization!! I research first. I visualize and physicalize my character and get in it’s brain while reading through and taking notes in the script. I let it develop more when I begin to be active with my scene partners. Memorization for me comes through repetition and connecting thoughts and actions in the blocking.
What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you onstage?
I made up a whole verse of “Surrey With A Fringe On Top”:
“All around is all around, the cows will moo in the clover, and just when you’re thinking everything is still, oh guess what it’s not over” . . . then I forget what I said next, I was a sweaty mess and blanked out . . . but I’m sure it was brilliant, but I finished with “The frogs will hop, and the stars will . . . pop!”
That’s hilarious – terrifying I’m sure but now you probably have gotten more laughs about it. Tell us about a role you really wanted but didn’t get – what did you learn from the process?
I really wanted to be cast in the National Tour of “Wizard of Oz”. I had just played the tin man at a regional theatre and went to the tour call. I made it down to the final 3 Tin Men and they ended up casting someone who was already on tour with them. That was a moment I learned it’s sometimes “who you know”. I also learned that either of the other two guys could have played the role as well. We all had our own qualities in the character and that was a cool thing to see how slightly different each of us were. You can learn a lot from observing other actors.
What genre of performing arts just doesn’t do anything for you?
Bizarre Street Performance Art . . . I try!!! I respect them.
I’m with you on that one…Which do you prefer most: Sinking your teeth into a gritty dramatic role or an outrageously funny role? Why?
I LOVE funny roles!! Duh!! But lately I have wanted to sink my teeth into more dramatic roles just to challenge myself and see how far I can go with a role.
Tell us about your dream role – the one you haven’t performed yet.
Seymour from “Little Shop” hands down! I love that show and that character! Plus anytime three girls riff it up and sing tight harmonies, I’m in!
You heard it here folks – cast this man as Seymour fast before someone else grabs him! Chad – thanks for taking the time – we can’t wait to see what you have planned for Seussical the Musical!