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A Day in the Life of Alex Brightman from ‘School of Rock’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

The uber-talented performer opens up about what it takes to be on his A-game for 'School of Rock,' the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

Alex Brightman remembers exactly where he was when he got the call from his agent that he got the role of a lifetime. He was cast to originate the role of Dewey Finn on Broadway in School of Rock. “I all but collapsed,” says Brightman. He made sure to remember exactly where he was on 23rd Street and 7th Avenue. “I went home in silence with a huge smile on my face,” he shares. “I got out of the subway called my parents — cried with them — then cried with my girlfriend. And then I had a drink.”

Brightman is playing the role that Jack Black made famous in the 2003 film about an underdog who forms the most awe-inspiring bad ass rock band out of a classroom full of kids. “The best part of doing School of Rock is getting to do everything I have ever wanted to do with my life all in one show over the course of an evening,” says Brightman who has made the part uniquely his own. “I get to be funny, inventive, sing rock and roll, play guitar and scream at children. It’s a dream. It’s a dream I get to have every single night.”

Alex Brightman and Evie Dolan in ‘School of Rock’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Alex Brightman and Evie Dolan in ‘School of Rock’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

That dream to be on stage has been in place since Brightman was a child. When he was eight, he saw his first Broadway show, Cats, and was instantly hooked. Coincidentally that was at the Winter Garden Theatre where he now performs in School of Rock. “My brother was terrified and had to be taken out. But I thought, there’s a place for the stuff I do in my living room! Before then I didn’t know there was a place where you get paid and people applaud for all the things I was doing in my fireplace every day in California,” recalls Brightman. “I would put on music, pretend to be different people and dance to the music of Billy Ocean and Gloria Estefan. Seeing Broadway shows made me realize that I’m nuts, but so is everybody else.”

One year later he was performing in his community theater in San Jose, California. “I played Tiny Tim in  A Christmas Carol and I had officially caught the acting bug bad,” says Brightman. By 2008 he became a replacement in the show Wicked on Broadway and then he did Matilda and Big Fish. “Twenty years later, I am back where I saw Cats but now I’m on the stage and it’s completely surreal,” offers the actor. “I have always wanted to perform and be able to pay my rent with my acting. The fact that I get to do it in this huge way is the biggest bonus ever. I’m just hoping that I’m not dreaming. So far, so good.”

So, so, so good indeed! Brightman revealed his super charged, high-octane two show day.

I started my day, like most of my days, at 8am. I am a huge early bird. I love to get up early, get a cup of coffee and really soak in the morning.

I went to Starbucks and got my usual triple grande latte with one tiny pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup. The Starbucks by my house knows me by now and has my drink ready before I hit the register. I’ve never been a regular anywhere before, and it makes me feel cool. It also helps that they are some of the nicest people ever that work there.

After that, I walked back to my apartment and sipped some java while listening to the newest episode of my favorite podcast, You Made It Weird, with Pete Holmes. It’s a fantastic podcast that deals with comedy, sex and spirituality and I listen to it all day every day for most of the day.

I took a shower. In my shower is a waterproof notepad where I write ideas for my stand-up comedy. On this particular day, I wrote down two things: everything is an app now, and instead of saying “D-list celebrity,” shouldn’t we just downgrade them to “person?” Not all of them are good but sometimes they turn into something great.

Because it was a two-show day at School of Rock, I had to get out of my place and down to the theater. I threw on my headphones and rather than listening to my podcast, I had just downloaded the new Panic! At The Disco album “Death of a Bachelor” and wanted to give it a listen. I’m glad I did because it is my new favorite get-up-and-go album. It’s so good.

I took the subway from the Upper West Side down to The Winter Garden and rocked out all the way down to a Panic song called “LA Devotee.”

Because of how physical my show is, I have to eat a while before the show begins. So I picked up a chicken salad wrap from The Green Apple Deli and ate it in what felt like one bite. I entered the stage door, headed up the stairs, and got into my dressing room, still listening to Panic.

One little inside piece of information that people may not know is that since we started previews on November 9, I have lost 40 pounds from all of the running around I do in the show. I don’t consider it a feat, but it is definitely interesting.

I hung out with my dresser Keith and talked about a whole lot of nothing. I love hanging out with Keith. He keeps me sane, clothed and hydrated. And I owe a huge part of my show to him.

It was time to get ready for the matinee. My first costume in the show is a T-shirt and sweatpants and it takes me literally three minutes to get ready. I got dressed and had a chat with the lovely and talented Sierra Boggess, who plays Miss Mullins in our show. We chat about a lot of things, but we always end up talking about big picture ideas and often times we delve into spiritual things. I like it. I like her.

Then I headed back to my dressing room and listened to stand-up comedy, something I have done for years before every performance. I love hearing laughter before a show. I also love hearing other comedian’s cadences. It helps me with my own cadences.

The show went well and without any notable mishaps. I know that people love to hear stories about things going wrong on stage, but I’m not one of those people. Our show is hilarious and we don’t need to make it any more hilarious by adding pranks or trying to break each other.

At intermission, I wiped off all of my sweat, which is a ton and changed underwear (again… sweat) and costume. I drank as much water as I could fit in my system and then got ready for Act Two.

The second act went smoothly and the audience went wild, which is becoming a trend over at School of Rock.

After the matinee, I showered, warmed my voice down, got dressed and headed to physical therapy. I got my shoulders and my chest worked on. I get physical therapy almost every single day because of how much running, jumping and thrashing I do in the show. I would be dead without it.

I ate some pineapple (a natural anti-inflammatory for my vocal cords) and a handful of almonds before getting ready for the second show. While I got ready for the second show, I filmed a little bit for the video blog I am currently shooting.

We did another performance of School of Rock for another amazing sold-out crowd. Again, our company is incredibly professional and we nailed yet another two-show day.

After the show, I took a melatonin. After the show I am so jacked up with adrenaline that I need a little help to get to sleep. I did the stage door line and talked with our incredible fans. I spend as much time as it takes at the stage door. I figure that a lot of people just gave me their attention for two hours and it’s the least I can do to give them my attention.

I took the subway home while listening to more You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. This episode had Judd Apatow on it and was fantastic.

Because of my acid reflux and because the show is such a huge sing for me, I don’t get the luxury of a post-show meal. I’m still getting used to it. I hate it. But I love my show so much that it’s worth the compromise.

I watched It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia until my eyes started to shut. Before the melatonin could fully overtake me, I got my ass to bed and fell directly asleep on my brand new shredded memory foam pillow which I would marry if it was legal.

I think I had a dream about Louis CK.

All in all, a pretty damn good day.


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