Welcome to the inaugural ‘Beyond the Stage Door’ interview! The stage door is known in theatre as “The Third Act”, where the audience meets the actors they just watched perform. Think of this as your virtual stage door, your bridge to these performers after the lights go down. This series will give you an inside scoop on performance tips, tricks, and everything else.
The first guest is Jared Dixon from the first national tour of “The Color Purple”. Jared has spent the last year on tour with ‘The Color Purple’ and I wanted to ask him some questions about his experiences and more. So here’s that interview!
What has it been like touring with a show in high demand like The Color Purple?
It’s an honor. So many people love this story and want to be near the magic. We’re definitely a part of a beautiful legacy.
How would you describe what you’ve learned from being in a show that is essentially a cultural experience?
This is one of the rare moments in theatre for blacks, where race isn’t the main factor in the story. It’s mainly about how our human experiences are molded by the circumstances surrounding that blackness. It’s the humanity of these characters that awakens people’s hearts every night. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
What was it like growing up surrounded by classically trained singers?
It’s like having inspiration on tap! Everything I’ve ever needed to learn about dedication, work ethic, practice and skill is right on display whenever I‘m around my dad and step-mom.
What’s your selection process for an audition song and what’s your go to song?
First, I think about the feel of the music in the show I’m going in for and try to find songs that sounds similar and tells a similar story. Then I think about what’s required of the role vocally and narrow down based on what fits my voice and demeanor best. I always try to choose something that shows the best sides of my personality. My go to song for a while has been “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke because it tells a story of hope and pride. I can smile cry or laugh through it any day because it hits on so many personal emotions.
You’re a gym guy so what is your performer’s guide to the gym? (from maintaining stamina, to performance quality)
I’m in the gym or working out 4-6 times a week. I try to keep it under an hour and a half because time is precious. The main thing is, no matter how you look, your body is the first thing representing you in auditions, on stage, or on camera so it better be ready to work. I lift to make whatever tasks I have to perform easier. Honestly, I usually fail at stretching consistently but I’m getting better. And I do cardio because it helps my breathing and stamina. I’m so confident in what I can do physically on stage because I spend so much time with my body.
What are your touring do’s and don’ts?
I do work out on a regular basis, try my best to experience each city at least a little before leaving, and try to keep my life as normal as possible. Don’t be rude to local theatre/hotel staff, eat sushi in landlocked states, eat pizza anywhere other than Chicago and NY.
The differences between touring and a sit down?
Touring allows the show to remain fresh and new. With every city there is a change of energy. Sit downs allow the show to grow into itself. After being somewhere and stable for a while you get to know your audience, theatre, and the circumstances surrounding the show every night.
How do you maintain a performance on tour?
Personal maintenance is the beginning. Keep yourself healthy. And secondly listen to your director, stage manager, and music director’s notes. Their job is to keep you on track, so your job is so much easier when you just follow suit. Still make it your own but find those adjustments.
Vocal tips and tricks (staying healthy, warm ups, proper technique).
Warm up every morning for at least 30 minutes and another 30 minutes before the show. Practice breathe support and speaking your lines while jogging. Find your center in every movement.
What’s your experience being a writer and an actor?
As a writer I think I give more respect to the text on the page than normal. I truly believe that, in most cases, every intention your character needs is right there in the book. I try my best to honor the work of the writer with each performer. Words are EXTREMELY important to me.
What advice would you give an up and coming performer?
Every single thing you do in life is a resource for what you do on stage, so live! I can’t stress enough how having a full and fulfilling life makes you a better performer. Of course focus on your craft, but don’t be so serious about it that you lose focus of what’s most important; you.
You can catch Jared next as… Simba in Disney’s the Lion King on tour. His debut is June 13th in Dallas Texas, and you can buy your ticket here.