Brett Thiele exudes a well-mixed combination of old-soul, Gene Kelley and the youthful, Jim Carrey. During my short hour with Brett, his passion for performing and sharing a story with every audience member who walks into The Foxwoods Theatre was sewn through his every word. On his dressing room mirror hung daily reminders that serve as his driving forces every day and night he steps onto the stage. There were opening night letters from friends, a $500 ticket left behind by an audience member as well as his Broadway Hunger Games tweets and notifications.
Spotted: Congrats on winning the Broadway Hunger Games! How are you feeling after your victory?!
- Brett: I feel amazing because it was kinda luck that I even got into the competition. My friend from school nominated me…and I looked into this and it looked really fun. I started toying with the idea of getting people to vote for me and I got everyone in my senior class [at Pace University] to nominate me, so even trying to get into the competition was funny and unexpected. Then all of sudden BroadwySpotted tweeted at me…and each round was insane because I was up against Kate Rockwell and Jessie Mueller. Each round I went into it like “No way am I going to win this round”.
Spotted: What does winning the Bway Hunger Games mean to you?
- Brett: This competition was a huge opportunity to put myself out there because normally I am kinda shy. I am not like a huge internet, look at my entire life, type of person, so it was a fun experiment to at least see if I could get people to vote for me or figure out how to do this. I was really surprised how many people voted and helped me get through every round. It is so much less about what I did and more, “hey people were there for me!” I was able to get people from back home and back from high school to vote me and I even got mentored by Lilla Crawford [from Annie] at some point!
Spotted: What does a typical day in the life of Brett Thiele look like?
- Brett: When I was in school, I would normally wake up and go to class and be in class all day and then have time to go to the gym, get a quick meal and head to the theatre. It was just madness and then wash, rinse, repeat. In between auditioning for something new, and going to class, and writing a paper…it just became…a lot less sleeping. Once I realized I was not going to sleep anymore, it got easier.
Spotted: A lot of people probably don’t realize that you have been pursuing your undergraduate degree while making your Broadway debut! How have you been able to juggling both?!
- Brett: I…don’t know! It’s a good question. The schedules worked out really nice being able to go to school during the day and do my show every night. I also had a lot of help from the stage management team here and all the professors at Pace University. As long as I could go to people and be like, “Hey…I have this really crazy job and sometimes I’m not able to come to class!” or if it was something big in class I would be able to say, “Hey, listen, I have a final or midterm…can I miss this rehearsal…is it okay?” Everyone was extremely accommodating and really supportive. They couldn’t believe I was going to school and doing a show! Now I know I can do anything! Now-a-days, its wake up, breakfast…video games for hours, a lot of Madden…and I could catch up on T.V…TV EXISTS! And I got a bike so I can bike around the city!
Spotted: How do you feel getting your degree in NYC helped you get to where you are now?
- Brett: It gives you life perceptive, more so than anything else. I got really awesome training at Pace and it gives you a leg up on the 8 billion other people who are now going to move to NYC from Iowa, Michigan, etc. It gives you the perspective of knowing that you have been in the city auditioning for 4 years, whether or not you have a job right out of school, which I was lucky enough to have, but I was able to get an agent while I was in school. I was able to start auditioning my freshman year, so I know so many people now! That alone is worth the price of college in the city. It’s everything.
Spotted: What was your audition experience before finally booking Spider-Man?!
- Brett: It’s crazy. So I auditioned 3 times. When I auditioned the first time, I came in and did really well and they were all super excited. I auditioned in the theatre, they measured me for costumes, and I even learned music from Kim! Then they said “we think he would be great, but he’s way too all-American. He was like apple pie and we’re looking for”…a rock’n’roll cake…since we’re going with pastries…So I was like, I can do this, I just need to look right. They said to my agent in passing, “Tell him to change his wardrobe up a little bit, maybe get his hair cut, pierce his ear maybe”…so I took it literally and I went to the east village, found the cleanest shop I could and got the jankest little hoop. I was like, “look how edgy I am! I got a little hoop!” I got my hair cut, I got it all buzzed up and spikey…and I was like hmm, rock’n’roll…I’ll buy a green day t-shirt! Then I went in the 2nd time, all rocked out, and made it through all the rounds, but we have an audition in L.A and see what’s out there…So the 3rd time, I was in final callbacks for Soul Doctor and I was at Ripley Grier and saw that Spider-Man was there and I called my agent…he said it looked like they were only auditioning for girls right now, but go ahead and put your face out there again, so they don’t forget who you are. I went and auditioned and did well! It was the shortest audition that I had ever done for them. I learned a dance, I tumbled, and sang a song…and I was like, “well I guess I’ll see you next time”. Then a couple days later, I was working at the Hummus Kitchen and it was the day after my Nana passed away from Cancer. I got a call from my agent saying it was a really good thing you went to the Spider-Man audition because they are making you an offer. It was really surreal because if I was getting a call I was expecting it to be from Soul Doctor, so now here I am almost a year later. In the mean time, I’ve done Easter Bonnet competition, Watch What Happens Live, Broadway Softball…Being immersed into the community has really been what I have fallen in love with. I love this show and I love this cast, but the thing that I guess keeps people coming back for more is the community. It’s a really special thing.
Spotted: What has been your favorite on-stage experience so far?
- Brett: We did an Autism friendly performance a couple weeks ago that was maybe the most satisfying thing I have ever done as a performer. Just the excitement of the cast and everybody in the audience, knowing that we could have a show where they could come and sit in a theatre and watch this thing…it was so…I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it. The first time they saw Spider-Man…I will hold onto that forever, because the response was so warm. It was the coolest thing I have ever done.
Spotted: What would be your dream plan for your career?
- Brett: That’s such a hard question! I kinda just want to see where the ride goes and if to say I have any interest in anything it would just be to tell awesome stories. That’s really important to me. I love dancing and I love performing, but ultimately, I really want to be able to tell cool stories to people and get to play. I have a total Peter Pan complex so the opportunity to just go out every night and to do a new adventure. It’s a new show every night. That’s actually why I keep this ticket in my spot. I found it in the front row during a rehearsal one day. It’s a ticket that was a 500 dollar ticket to see a show and get a VIP tour. It’s a reminder every night that people pay a week’s salary to come see theatre and we have an opportunity to be what someone was to us when we were kids. Everybody has that one performance that they went and saw and they were like, I wanna do that! The opportunity just to maybe one time in however long my career gets to be, do that for someone…Also, I wanna bring back Gene Kelley movies. If there’s some way to bring back that joyous movie musical, instead of just a musical thrown into a movie, because that’s what I grew up with
Spotted:What type of advice would you offer to other aspiring performers?
- Brett: Keep playing. There are too many sad, old, crusty people in the business that are just here for their paycheck every week…and the people that I at least go back to see every time are the people who are having the most fun or trying the most things…why not?! We’re playing pretend. This is basically a grown up version of pretend from Kindergarten. It’s a job..it’s hard to get up and do 500 shows in a row, and you get limited vacations, but as long as you can go out every night knowing that I don’t want to do anything else and this could literally be anything I want this to be, that’s what’s going to keep me going. Just keep playing. And I don’t think anyone get’s to where they get by themselves. Surround yourself with good people. Life is too short to not surround yourself with people who love you for exactly what you are.