At the time I spoke with singer and dancer Jarran Muse, he was in West Palm Beach, Florida worshipping the sunshine and enjoying himself with his cast mates in one of many beach parties. The 22-year-old is far from his native New Jersey and its chilly seasons. He’s one of many in the ensemble of the classic Broadway musical "42nd Street." However, he doesn’t plan to stay in the background for too much longer.
Muse’s lively spirit and phenomenal talent will eventually move him forward.
For now, he plays Clyde the dancer and waiter at the Gypsy Tea Kettle. Muse also
does double duty as the understudy for the main character Billy Lawlor. That’s
a lot of memorizing, singing and hoofing for this burgeoning star.
"I’ve known my whole life that I wanted to be an entertainer,"
says Muse and his résumé proves it. He sang in the school choir
as a kid and studied jazz, ballet and modern dance at the University of Arts in
Philadelphia for two years. Word about his talent got around and soon he was offered
jobs that included doing regional theater in Florida and working on a cruise ship
as singer and dancer.
From the outside, being a Broadway star looks glamorous, but Muse admits that
a lot of hard work and sweat goes into making it look so effortless. A typical
day starts with rehearsals from ten in the morning until six in the evening. Within
three weeks, everyone has to perfect all the choreography, staging, and musical
numbers. For those like Muse who are understudies, they have to learn the other
character’s dance numbers and lines. While all of this would kill us mere
mortals, Muse relishes the heavy grind.
"I’m trying to be successful at breaking out of the ensemble and move
out into the front," he admits. "Competition in this industry is difficult,
period, whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s so difficult because so
many people want it and are so talented."
Muse continues with his vocal lessons and dance classes to stay ahead of the game.
With performers grasping at roles, it’s even more fierce when you’re
a person of color trying to get into an all-white production. Muse is one of the
only African-Americans in "42nd" and is aware he must step up his game
to be taken seriously.
He’s been told that casting a person of color as the lead in a musical wouldn’t
be believable. Muse still feels he has to prove himself even after he’s secured
"I wish they would bring more of the black shows out so we can get more work.
Without the black shows, it’s really hard because you go to these shows and
you see it’s just one or none. You have shows like "Hairspray"
where there’s four or five of us, but compared to all the shows there aren’t
that many, you know? There’s not a lot of jobs. A lot of people, they may
say they are color blind with casting but it’s not true."
Muse is ready to face the obstacles that lie ahead of him. He has plans to be
involved in every aspect of the industry – from writing, to choreographing
and directing. After this tour ends in June 2006, he plans to move to New York
and raise the stakes over there.
The Long Beach Performing Arts Center is located at 300 East Ocean Blvd., in Long
Beach. Tickets are available at www.theatreleague.com, the Long Beach Performing
Arts Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (714) 740-2000.
Price: $42.50 - $48.50. The Pasadena Civic Auditorium is located at 300 East Green
St., in Pasadena. Tickets are available at www.theatreleague.com, Pasadena Civic
Auditorium, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (213) 365-3500. Price: $22.00
- $50.50. For performance times and more information, visit www.theatreleague.com.
GetUp: GUGO [42nd Street]
42nd Street: Nov. 18-20 @ Long Beach Performing Arts Center
By Mary Montoro
Article posted on 11/14/2005
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