By: Jessica Turgeon
As the cast took their final bow and the curtain closed for the final time, 28 year old actor Brad Simanski realized that it was back to square one for his career. His past two years were spent in the Broadway in Chicago production of Wicked. Now that the show is closed, Brad must return to the audition process.
Brad Simanski began his acting career in the eighth grade when he joined the drama club at school. “That sort of spiked my interest for it,” Simanski said. Soon after, he auditioned and was accepted into the Greater Hartford Academy of the Performing Arts, where he studied from his sophomore to senior year. After high school, Simanski moved on to study at the Boston Conservatory, where he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts.
While some people don’t make it in the world of professional theatre, Simanski names getting a national tour of Singin’ in the Rain right out of college as one of his greatest achievements. Another one of Simanski’s most significant achievements is getting a role in Broadway in Chicago’s production of Wicked. In addition to his role in the ensemble, he played the understudy of Boq, and performed the role on many occasions.
Being involved with Wicked was one of the “coolest experiences of my life”, said Simanski. As with any other production, he had his up days and down days, as well as all of the fun times.
He met people who had respect for the show, and “those who didn’t bring the respect that should be there.” Working with an amazing crew of producers and creative staff, Simanski said, “I never met any bad eggs the entire time that I was there.”
A friend of Simanski’s and also the first assistant stage manager for Wicked, Matthew Leiner, described Simanski as “just kind of a goofy guy in general.” In addition to a “gorgeous voice”, Leiner said “personality goes a long way, and he’s definitely got it.” Leiner has known Simanski for about two and a half years, since they began working on Wicked together.
“As an actor, doing the same show every day and understudying a principal role,” said Leiner, “doing it for two years was absolutely brilliant.”
The theatre business is not for the weak, however. The experiences that Brad has had, auditioning both successfully and unsuccessfully for shows have been difficult. “It makes you incredibly tough-skinned,” says Simanski. “You just mature, and are able to deal with the ups and downs of life easier because you are constantly going through them.”
Simanski did not land his role in Wicked until after a long process of auditions. There were tons of audition calls for different roles and he had to fly all over the United States, many times.
Also, Broadway gigs don’t last forever. Now that Wicked closed, Simanski is back to traveling the country auditioning for shows all around the United States. Just recently, he auditioned for Million Dollar Quartet, a new show now playing at the Apollo Theatre in Chicago.
Until he gets cast in a show, however, Simanski is taking this free time to take it easy after the strict schedule of being in a show. In whatever free time he can find Simanski plays in a band in Chicago.
“Getting a band formed was tremendous,” Simanski said. “I am able to branch out and do my own stuff.” He writes a lot of his own music, ranging in style anywhere between acoustic rock and Maroon 5.
Simanski’s success has been inspired the most by his parents, who have always been there for him throughout this whole process, despite the difficulty of this profession. They gave him a solid foundation, and are always there to listen to him, no matter if he has good news or bad news. They are also always there to support him when he has his many embarrassing moments on the stage.
The exquisite and elaborate costumes for Wicked are beautiful and only add to the atmosphere and experience of the show. However, the cast has a lot to worry about with the extensive amount of costume pieces they are responsible for. “Most recently, I had to do the March of the Witch Hunters in my bedroom slippers because I forgot to change into my mob boots after a tin-man fitting in the middle of the show,” said Simanski.
These experiences have helped to make Brad a stronger person and learn a lot about the world of theatre. Especially working with an equity versus a non-equity show, the level of professionalism changes dramatically. It was just a great opportunity, and according to Simanski, “no matter how big the show is, a show is a show.”