In BIG, THE MUSICAL 12- year-old Josh Baskin makes a wish to become "big" and wakes up to find his wish has been granted! Big Josh then lands a "dream job" at MacMillian Toys.
Throughout the month of October First Stage's DREAM BIG blog series will highlight people who have acheived success and have their "dream job." How did they get where they are? What did it take? Find out as we inspire our audiences to DREAM BIG!
DREAM BIG blog series:
JEFF WHITING, Choreographer of BIG, THE MUSICAL
|Jeff Whiting, a little younger than 12|
I suppose my official title depends on the day and the project:
Choreographer (BIG, THE MUSICAL), Associate Director/Choreographer (Broadway), Artistic Director (The Open Jar Institute) and President/Founder (Stage Write Software).
What was your dream job when you were 12 years old?
I wanted to perform with Bernadette Peters on Broadway.
If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
That's very difficult, because I have my dream job and would never want to change it. BUT, if I were FORCED to choose something else, I think I might choose to be an architect. I love putting things together and finding creative solutions. I think that field might be a lot of fun, too.
|Jeff at a recent rehearsal of BIG, THE MUSICAL|
How long did it take to become a choreographer and what did you have to do?
I started as a dancer. Although I did some dance in High School shows, I didn't really begin to study dance until I got to University. I loved it. I took every style I could - jazz, tap, ballet, modern, ballroom - immersing myself into each one. As an actor in New York, I would often be cast into roles that used my dance technique. I was cast as Action in a production of West Side Story. It was while I was in choreographic rehearsals for that show that a director saw me and asked me to choreograph a few numbers in his next show. From that one gig, I began getting recommended as a choreographer to other shows, working regionally, then at Walt Disney Entertainment, National Tours and Broadway. I have enjoyed 'riding the wave' - each job leads to connections with other people and I love to create and collaborate with other people. You never know where the 'wave' will take you next, but I have always been up for an adventure.
What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to achieve your dream?
And one day someone gave me the greatest advice of all. He said to me, "YOU ARE ENOUGH". You don't have to pretend to be anything other than what you are. You don't have to try to be what you think the director wants. You should just be you - your authentic self - and THAT is what makes you desirable.
He was absolutely right. Now that I sit on the other side of the casting table I see more clearly that it's the individual that I'm drawn to. Not their abilities. It's the 'heart' that they bring to their dance, to their song, that makes them ideal for the role. An audience is drawn to the authentic - not the lie. I am so grateful for that advice: YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Fast forward FIVE YEARS later. I had just been hired to work as the Assistant Director for the National Tour of HAIRSPRAY. The director of the tour asked me to meet him at the stage door of the Broadway show and he would walk me in, introduce me to the cast, and we would watch the show together in preparation for my work on the tour.
It wasn't until I was five steps away from meeting him at the stage door that I realized that THIS was the very door I had willed myself into five years earlier. I KNEW I would work in that theatre - I just didn't know it would be five years later than I had originally planned on. My gut WAS right, but my timing was just off.