Another interview opportunity I got prior to the Opening Night performance of Green Day’s American Idiot: The Musicalwas with fellow Canadian & Ensemble member Gabriel Antonacci, who is also an understudy for the roles Johnny & Tunny. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Gabriel has been a part of many great Theatre productions, the most notable being his role as Hank Majewski in Jersey Boys. Other favourite credits include: West Side Story (Big Deal), The Full Monty (Ethan) and Happy Days (Richie). He is now on tour with the company of American Idiot, with his hometown of Toronto being their only Canadian stop. American Idiot plays at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until Jan 15th. For more details, click HERE
“Home Sweet Home” – I think that’s going to ring quite a good bell and it must be quite a different meaning because now you are doing American Idiot, your back home in Canada, how’s the feeling like?
Gabriel: Its great! It’s so awesome to be able to open this show here. I also spent 2 years in this very theatre doing Jersey Boys so to come back to this Theatre is amazing. Since the show is called American Idiot, its kinda funny being a Canadian in that show! Ya, its great! It’s a really emotional moment for me and on stage yesterday, we did a preview..
Oh trust me, I was on Twitter and it was just “American Idiot, Idiot, Idiot….”
Gabriel: On stage tonight I’m sure I’m going to be an emotional mess, but it’s great. Cause the story itself in the show is, you know, about three guys coming back home.
Speaking of Theatre, how did you get about in Theatre? The question I always ask is if you go into Film, “yeah it’s about stardom and what not”, If you go to TV, it’s like “cool I’m on TV”, but what attracted you to Theatre?
Gabriel: I’ve always been a singer myself. I went to High School at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, which is like one of the best and most amazing schools in the history of schools I think! I still go back and hang out there and teach and try and like guest teach and stuff like that. I went to audition for that school and was I was like “which one’s the singing one?” and they were like “That’s the music theatre program” and I was like oh okay. I didn’t realize that involved dancing and acting! I didn’t even know what Music Theatre was! So I just showed up and sort of went to the audition and there was a dance call and I started that and they were like, “You are actually pretty good at this” and I was like “No…I’m not but that’s okay”. Then I got into the school and I went to my first dance class and they were like “Your actually really good at this!” and I was like “No I’m not, but I’ll entertain you for a while”. It turned out that I was actually fairly good at it. Dancing was something that came naturally and I was always a singer and Music Theatre is something that is about singing, dancing and acting. It was something as I did more and more and more I become more obsessed with and it just made me feel good and the challenge of trying to do those things really well. To convey that emotion, to be able to sing and to be able to do that. Also in this show we get to play Guitar which is amazing. That’s like a fourth thing that you get to do!
You guys are just rocking on stage!
Gabriel: Yeah! It’s great to be able to do all those things but the reason I got into Music Theatre is you know in High School I started auditioning for things and once I found out that there was this thing that was like auditioning and you know you get a job. You get addicted to that feeling. You get addicted to those positive feelings of getting a job and feeling that. Thankfully, you know it’s worked out pretty well for me so far, I’ve been doing it for like 9 years now!
That’s fantastic! Wow, that’s quite a long time!
Gabriel: It’s been amazing so far!
You being in Theatre, would you ever decide to make the move to Film or TV?
Gabriel: I think most people would. My passion is Theatre. A lot of the money is in Film & TV. It’s also, you can make a lot of money in film & TV in a short amount of time whereas in Theatre, it takes up your time. The thing that I love about Theatre is that it happens every day. It’s like Baseball. You can turn on a TV and there’s always a Baseball game on when its Baseball season. It’s something that I love the thought of doing a show eight times a week and rediscovering that emotional feeling and that connection. It’s also something you get that constant and positive reinforcement from an audience, immediately, right there! You finish a number and you can tell how they feel. There is a difference between polite applause and people really liking themselves. Even if it’s just “sure it’s an applause at the end of every number” but from what we experienced yesterday; the camera is one thing but it’s a passive object, whereas an audience is an active object. They are like another cast member in that moment. So you have this ability to create something that only happens that one day in this one time with this group of people and I think that’s such a magical, amazing thing!
Wow the way you have just put it there is just like…I’m sorry my mind is just blown. It’s just like, Wow, dammit.
Gabriel: I think Music Theatre, with this being a great example of something, is not trying to be a movie. For a long time, I think in the 90’s, Music Theatre tried to be a movie and they wanted it to be the same every night. Whereas this is something great because we invite the audience in. Our main character talks to you directly. “You’re as much in this as we are so if you want to go there, we’ll go there”. I think Music Theatre is making a big transition right now into that. Our advantage over Film & TV is the fact that we can change on the fly and that’s something that Film & TV doesn’t have. If you go and see a movie, you’re gonna see that movie! But if you go and see a show, you may experience something that may never happen again, ever, in that show!
That’s pretty powerful. The fact that you said about Theatre. Being a student, being a very recent graduate student actually, students always ask “how I can get there” and what not. I know we don’t have much time, but if you could look at the camera and tell all the individuals out there who aspire to go into TV, or Theatre and what not, some advice that you would give.
Gabriel: Its gonna sound stupid I think but the best thing for anything that you ever do, but Film & TV & Music Theatre especially, you have to work hard. You have to work as hard as you possibly can. I know even myself forget that for a long time. You know when I first got out of High School and booked a job, you know you’re doing a job. You only work 3-4 hours a night because you come in and do your show and you have all day off. So you just sit around and watch re-runs of 24 and your sitting there! You know other jobs and people, they work 8 hours a day. People work 9 to 5 jobs. That’s something where I’ve tried to do that. Be prepared. If you going into an audition, work as hard as you possibly can. I think sometimes, and myself included, the reason I didn’t do that when I was younger was because I was like if I don’t work as hard as I can I can just blame it and if I don’t get the job I’m like “oh its fine, I could have worked harder and I would have booked it, its fine!”. You know, that’s not the case. You work as hard as you can. If you don’t book it, who knows. You could have been like 3 inches too short or 2 inches too tall or not pretty enough or too pretty! That happens a lot! At least then you put it in their hands and not in your hands. I would just say work hard, be prepared, and have a sense of humour about yourself and have a sense of humour about the business because a lot of the time it doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes it does, and the moments it does, it will fulfil you and make you happy.