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By Donald V. Calamia
A lot has changed for Bret Beaudry since he first walked onto the stage of the Flint Youth Theatre. From young actor to college graduate, Beaudry returns to the FYT as a guest artist in the upcoming production of It's a Wonderful Life in the role of George Bailey. Beaudry talked recently with EncoreMichigan.com about his experience at FYT and what advice he gives to its up-and-coming young actors.
You're no stranger to the Flint Youth Theatre. How did you first become involved with FYT and at what age?
I became involved with Flint Youth Theatre at the age of 12. A friend in community theater told me about the auditions for Bambi: A Life in the Woods. I did that show, then later was asked to return to be in In The Company Of Pirates when I was 23, just after I graduated from U of M.
What got you interested in theater? And when did you decide you wanted a career in theater?
My interest in theater was somewhat ingrained in me from the age of 2. I used to memorize complete movies, then act them out in our living room.
Then, when I was 10, my grandma and mom forced me into an audition for the Fenton Village Players. I got the part and then "the bug" and 15 years later, here I am.
I realized later that all I could really see myself doing was acting. I just can't imagine my life without that.
How long were you involved with FYT? What was it about the program that appealed to you?
I was not involved with FYT for very long at all; only those two productions. However, I have always enjoyed their professionalism and ability to bring challenging theater to, for and involving young people and audience members of every age.
What was your favorite show at FYT and why?
The show that I am currently involved in is my favorite FYT experience. It's a Wonderful Life is truly a challenge! George Bailey is an incredibly kind and hopeful individual who loses his way. Along that path, he revisits 30 years of his life very rapidly. So, for me, having to step in and out of older George, younger George, suicidal George and overjoyed George makes for quite a jarring emotional trip as an actor.
You mentioned earlier that you attended the University of Michigan. Did your time at FYT help prepare you for your studies?
I did a LOT of theater (at U of M): Assassins, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Henry V, to name a few. Every experience I've had prior to college prepared me in some capacity. I would certainly say that my short time at FYT was memorable, and I definitely learned a lot from that production.
You've had a pretty interesting career so far including a well-reviewed run as Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. Is there a specific genre of theater you prefer to work in? And if so, why?
There is no genre I prefer working in. I tend to get cast in musical comedies, purely because comedy is my forte and I can sing.
Honestly, I have missed doing regular dramas or comedies.
If I were to choose my favorite type of role, it would be anything that allows me to play multiple characters in one show or something that pushes my boundaries and abilities as an actor.
Shockingly enough, Rocky Horror did just that. It allowed me to create a very different version of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and pushed my limits of what I am comfortable with as a performer; such as extreme cross-dressing and four-inch stilettos.
Is there a dream project you'd like to do in the near future?
I have just co-written a two-man comedy entitled The Untitled Jesus Christ Murder Mystery with my best friend, Michael James Allen. He is also a FYT alumni. Michael and I play 24 characters between the two of us! The possibility of having that play put on, on a full-scale, would be a dream at this point! Were aiming for it getting its official premiere in the New York City Fringe Festival.
What brought you back to FYT as a guest artist?
(Associate artistic director) Walter Hill and (executive artistic director) Bill Ward both thought of me for this role after working with them on a staged-reading of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.
As you work with the latest up-and-coming young performers, what advice do you give them?
Advice I would give young actors is this: work hard. Be your own best critic. If you are, your work will be constantly evolving because your performance will never be perfect.
Then again, I might re-think telling a kid this, because it can also make you crazy. But at least you'll be good and crazy.
What's next for you?
After this, I will be hitting the auditions in Chicago once again!
ABOUT BRET BEAUDRY:
A 2007 graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Bret Beaudry has been seen on stages throughout Michigan. Illinois and Washington. He appeared in the independent films Back to Life and Blood Ties. He has also co-authored the play The Untitled Jesus Christ Murder Mystery, which he hopes will premiere at the New York Fringe Festival in 2010.
It's a Wonderful Life, the story of George Bailey's selflessness and the difference one person can make in rekindling community pride and hope, opens Dec. 4 at the Flint Youth Theatre, 1220 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-5, 10-12 & 17-19, and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 & 19. Tickets: $14-$16. For more information: 810-237-1530 or www.flintyouththeatre.org.
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