Landing a gig as a Broadway understudy or standby looks fine on the resume, but under those circumstances, Corey Mach will tell you, it’s hard to truly own your character.
“In a big commercial show, you’re kind of expected to go out on stage and do it like the person who usually plays that role,” said Mach, a young New York City-based actor who has understudied in “Godspell” and served as a standby in “Hands on a Hardbody” on Broadway since graduating from Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio in 2010.
“You don’t get the opportunity to develop the character the way you see fit.”
Mach, however, who grew up just outside of Cleveland, is getting that opportunity in the national touring production of “Flashdance-The Musical,” coming to Proctors from Tuesday through Sunday.
“I’ve always heard, ‘don’t take the role because of the show, take the role because of the role,’ ” said Mach, who plays the male lead, Nick, in the 2008 musical that was based on the 1983 movie of the same name.
“Broadway was great, but most of the time I was just waiting for people to call in sick. On this tour I’ve been able to really make this character my own. I get a great chance to use what I learned in college.”
Sharing the stage with Mach and playing the female lead in “Flashdance” is Sydney Morton. Her character, Alex, a mill worker by day and a dancer by night, has high aspirations for a stage career. However, when she falls for Nick, her boss at work, life gets complicated and threatens to derail her dreams of becoming a professional performer.
‘Flashdance — The Musical’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Tuesday through Sunday; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 1:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $75-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
Morton handles much of the dancing and singing in the show, while Mach contributes singing, but no dancing.
“Acting is what I do best, but my vocal training at Baldwin-Wallace was amazing,” he said. “Acting always felt comfortable to me, but my singing and dancing didn’t come naturally. That was a lot of hard work.”
Mach said he started playing the piano when he was 4, but switched to acting lessons, which eventually led to theatrical performances in school and local community theater in the Cleveland area.
His time at Baldwin-Wallace he says, was time well spent.
“I grew up just 10 minutes from Baldwin-Wallace, but it wasn’t No. 1 on my list,” he said. “The talk around town back in 2005 was that I should go to one of the big schools, like the University of Michigan or the University of Cincinnati. But I stayed near home and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I had a great experience at Baldwin-Wallace.”
Along with learning their craft, students there had plenty of chances to audition in front of major casting directors from New York City.
“The school really set us up with great connections,” said Mach. “They brought in casting directors and agents 10 to 15 times a year. By the time we got to New York after graduating we were on a first-name basis with them. Baldwin-Wallace has really made a name for itself. We have a number of former students playing leads on Broadway right now. Some schools train their students to be members of the ensemble. B-W trains them to be leads.”
Within a month after graduating, Mach had been in New York and landed a part with the ensemble of the national tour of “Wicked.” That took up nearly a year, and then he made his Broadway debut in “Godspell,” serving as understudy for both the Judas and Jesus roles.
While his “Godspell” work included a lot of time in the ensemble, his next Broadway experience was as a standby in “Hands on a Hardbody,” which meant there was no ensemble work, and he only went on stage if a particular actor was sick or unable to perform for some other reason.
Mach has been performing in “Flashdance” for eight months now. This tour ends in June, and the producers are hoping to stage a production on Broadway sometime in the future. The show had a West End production in London in 2010 and 2011 following its world premiere in 2008 at Theatre Royal Plymouth in Devon, England.
“Flashdance,” the 1983 film starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri, was written by Joe Eszterhas and Tom Hedley. While there were songs, performed in the style of self-contained music videos, it was not a traditional musical.
The movie was a huge success and pulled in more than $100 million at the box office, in part, according to critics, because of the popularity of MTV, which had been created just two years earlier.
There were five popular songs from the film, “Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt,” “I love Rock & Roll,” and the title song, “Flashdance-What a Feeling,” which won an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was written by Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey and Irene Cara, and performed in the movie by Cara.
Hedley also played a big role in the stage show, co-authoring the book along with lyricist Robert Cary, who worked with Robbie Roth to contribute 15 new songs.
“There are some changes from the original movie, and my character, Nick, has really been expanded,” said Mach. “I’m the boss at the mill where Alex works, and there’s a whole new part of the plot about me dealing with cuts and layoffs at the mill, trying to save jobs for my friends.”
Morton grew up in Cincinnati and went to the University of Michigan. Like Mach, she has Broadway credits on her resume, including “Motown The Musical,” a revival of “Evita,” and “Memphis.”