Like so many others who have taken the lyrics “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” to heart, local performer Justin Klein will soon be setting out for New York and environs to pursue his dream of becoming a theater professional.
Klein, 25, is a 2006 graduate of Carmel High School. He studied vocal performance prior to switching to theater and drama at Indiana University, which he attended for three years. During the past year and a half Klein appeared in nine local community theater productions. Among them were three reviewed by Examiner.com in which Klein was singled our for his outstanding performances in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Into the Woods” and “Young Frankenstein”.
Recently, Klein announced that he would soon be leaving for the East Coast and would be living in a sublet apartment in Astoria, Queens for a few months during which time he hopes to find a part time job, make the rounds at auditions and generally “try to get settled.”
“I have never felt better about it and been in a better place both physically and mentally. I am older now and I think I can handle it. I am just going to go out there and give it a shot and live and work. I just want to be in the best place to be to find work in my chosen profession,” said the practically-minded Klein, who describes himself as “cautiously optimistic".
When Klein was asked if he had contacts in the New York area he said, "I know people who are living in New York and even some even living in Astoria. I have friends from high school, college, and from shows I have done, who are out there. They are all trying to do the same thing I hope to do. Some of them have done Broadway and other have gone off on tours, so yes, I have contacts there — people I will be meeting up with for coffee. I am excited. I think it’s going to a lot of fun."
Will he seek out an agent? "I'll contact someone who has an agent or a manager and consult with them about finding representation and setting up meetings. I never had the opportunity to do a college showcase which a lot of kids do nowadays. During their senior year they go with their classes to New York and/or LA and do a collegiate showcase. That’s one way people do it but of course, I didn't. However, it's not something I am worried about. I think that if it's something that is supposed to happen, it will." said Klein.
The timing is right for Klein to make his move, according to Kathleen Clarke Horrigan, who teaches theater at Lawrence Central High School and directed him in Footlite Musicals Young Adult Productions of “All Shook Up,” “Bat Boy,” “Rent” and “Young Frankenstein.” “I told him that if he did not go to New York that I was going to be very upset with him because he has the possibility of being a triple threat because he has the looks, he has the comic timing, he can sing, and he can dance,” said Horrigan.
Horrigan’s assessment is echoed by Jo Read Trakemas, who was Klein’s private voice teacher throughout his high school and college years, when she said, “Justin is very strong. I have had thousands of students over 38 years of teaching. I never realized what a triple threat he was until about 2 years ago when I saw him in a variety of community theater productions. He’s got a very lush velvety voice that’s very full of expression and he also has both dramatic and comic acting talent that is extremely creative. He’s got a natural sense of timing.”
Trakemas knows from whence she speaks. She happens to be the mother (and was the voice teacher) of Ben Wright, who originated the role of “Jack,” in “Into the Woods,” which ran on Broadway from 1987 through ’89. Wright later went on to enjoy a successful career in theater and television. As far as predicting what Klein’s future might hold, Trakemas said, “I would first state that Justin has got what I call the three Ps. I have taught this to students for years. The 3 Ps, as I have identified them, that you have to have to succeed in this business are: performance, passion, and the most important thing, perseverance. He’s definitely got the performance. He’s definitely got the passion and there is no question that he has the perseverance. I do believe that he is going to make it.”
Regarding his own assessment of his talents, Klein said, “I love performing and I know when I put my head down and charge at something, take it very seriously, and do my work, that I have something to offer people.”
What does Klein see for himself in his show business future? “I think I would like to take this time while I am younger to perform in plays and musical theater as much as I can, in as many places as I can and in as many roles as I can. I want to absorb as much as I can from my fellow actors, directors and everyone I meet. When I am older I would then like to take everything I’ve learned and artistic direct a theater company that is more off-Broadway or a regional theater like Guthrie or Actors Theatre of Louisville that puts on new and interesting works. That would be my retirement goal.”
As far as a parting message to those he leaves behind, Klein said, “My family has always been supportive of me, when I have made both good decisions and bad decisions. I can’t thank them enough. I also want to thank everybody else for all the support they have shown me, for keeping me on track and helping me keep my head up, especially over the last year and a half. They have helped me to believe things about myself that I never was able to before. I have really appreciated the opportunities and the friendships.”
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