By Antonia Spano
On March 14, Musical Theatre alumnus Chris Stevens visited DeSales to give a talk to current theater majors. Stevens graduated in 2011 as a double major in Theatre and Communications.
Stevens has been in three national tours since his graduation and discussed how he achieved those roles in Cats, Mamma Mia and currently Jersey Boys.
He gave a lot of advice to current students such as “it’s going to be okay,” “be kind to yourself,” and to “find a quote that speaks to you and say it every day.”
Being raised in Philadelphia and South Jersey, Stevens moved to New York City and booked a role in Cats only weeks after graduation. While living in New York between jobs, though, he worked multiple jobs as a server, including a dinner theater and Junior’s Cheesecake Factory.
“Find a job that you have to suck it up for a while,” Stevens says about his time as a server.
Stevens also spent time reminiscing about DeSales. As a double major in Theatre and Communication, he contrasted the two saying that Theater was more physical and Communication was more reading oriented.
He discussed how broadcast communication helped with his acting in that he learned about different ways of projecting his voice and talent. He also recollected his time writing for The Minstrel.
Stevens also discussed how social media was a good way to market oneself. He suggested posting videos for the theater majors’ performing work.
He talked about the first videos he took with his friends at school, which happened to be TV/Film majors. These were music videos that were made to songs such as Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”.
The Main Stage was also a topic of reminiscing, as Stevens talked about his lead roles in shows such as Rob the Bridegroom, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Merry Christmas George Bailey!. He even discussed memories of shows he did not enjoy such as Sunday in the Park with George and Camelot.
He stated that Rob the Bridegroom was the best because “it was unique, wasn’t known to the students doing it and had a fun cast.”
Stevens then went into detail about how he achieved his role as Nick in Jersey Boys.
He first encountered the show during its initial run on Broadway and ended up seeing it five times before it closed. Over the course of six years, he auditioned three times and ended with the role of Nick Massi, who is the only member of The Four Seasons who has passed away.
Nick’s voice type was a bass, the lowest voice type, which can be difficult for Stevens because he is a tenor, a higher voice type.
On tour, Stevens has seen forty-seven states and is thrilled that most expenses are paid for by the people running the tour.
The tour is Equity, Stevens explained, which means that most of the people on it work for the theatre union.
Stevens describes the tour as “an awesome thing to be doing” because of all the memories and lessons that he is learning.
He describes the hiring process in theater to be “all about timing and connections,” something that can be applied to many fields of work.
He also stated that “everything is based off opinions,” so just because he wasn’t hired, does not mean he did not do a good job at an audition.
Stevens states that people can do anything they set their mind to, and that “you should be constantly asking yourself ‘what can I improve upon?’”