Jamal Shuriah, Music Theater graduate from West Hartford’s Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theater returns to Hartford to perform in the Broadway smash hit “American Idiot” now at the Bushnell through Mar. 3. In an interview on Feb. 28, 2013, he shared what being on the national Broadway tour has been like for him, as well as his transition from student to musical theater professional.
Fortunate to land the role of “Seaweed” in New London’s Barn Playhouse production of “Hairspray” the summer after graduation, Shuriah performed in a variety of New York dance ensembles as well as two stints with Disney Cruise lines prior to being hired for the “American Idiot” tour. Shuriah believes: “you can always find work if you persevere”. Cast in the ensemble and as understudy for the featured role of ‘favorite son’ Shuriah first toured for three month in the United Kingdom and will now tour nationally with “American Idiot” through June, with hopes of it being extended through Asia after that.
A rock musical based on the music of Green Day “American Idiot” is the story of three lifelong friends forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Choreographed by Steven Hoggett the punk rock style dancing is very energetic with a young cast that Shuriah notes is, “very supportive of each other particularly when on stage. It is a very fast paced show including aerial acrobatics and moving scenery, so everyone has to be really on top of it at all times; we all have each other’s backs”.
Shuriah credits the Hartt School for preparing him to be able to handle the process of pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional musical theater performer. Hartt, the comprehensive performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford, provided him with an: “intense six day/week curriculum that included training in voice, acting, and dance as well as academic classes” he explains. While in the program Shuriah even took extra dance classes in his spare time, in order to further prepare himself. The eldest boy of 8 children, Shuriah also believes his strong support system of family and friends has been critical component to his success.
“But” he cautions, “you’ve got to REALLY want it” he says of becoming a professional musical theater performer. “Once you are IN, you are golden, but until that happens, you have to keep yourself out there. I went on-line (web sites such as Playbill.com, Actors Equity Association post audition notices for both union and non-union performers), and made sure I attended auditions every day of the week so I could continue to be seen. They (directors, producers, casting agents, etc.) really do remember you and recognize your growth.” Shuriah also free-lances with an agent; with being on tour for months at a time and unable to be sent out regularly, it works out best for him to freelance with an agent when he is in town and available. Shuriah is currently with the Luedtke Agency.
So what’s next for Shuriah? “Of course I love Musical Theater, but my long term goal is to become more commercial and eventually move towards film and T.V.” For now though he will enjoy the ride of being in a hit musical on tour, with the ‘next’ after Harford being Nashville!
American Idiot: Feb. 26 – March 3rd The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford CT. 06106
Performances: Thurs. Feb. 28: 7:30 pm; Fri., Mar. 1: 8:00 pm; Sat. Mar. 2: 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm; Sun Mar. 3. 1:00 pm & 6:30 pm.
For Tickets: Purchase on-line, or call The Bushnell Box Office: (860) 987-5900
Jamal Shuriah – web site
The Hartt School: 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117-1599; 860.768.4454