DRAA Sponsors Center REP Equity Contract

Tyce takes the stage in the upcoming LCA hit, Altar Boyz

Center REPertory Company is the resident professional theatre company of the Lesher Center for the Arts and, as a professional company, all their artists and artisans are career theatre-practitioners, many of whom are members of the Actors’ Equity Association or are Equity Membership candidates.

DRAA has been fortunate enough to be a part of that passion by contributing financially to this outstanding company, whose reputation precedes them among their artists and their patrons. Actors love working with Center REPertory Company because they genuinely take the time to show their artists how valued they are. It is not easy for an equity actor in the Bay Area to find union work that pays a livable wage, but Center REP, DRAA, and the donors who make it all possible, are determined to create a space in which professional actors can practice their craft right here in Walnut Creek.

Altar Boyz opens Tuesday May 30 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, and features Center REP veteran and Actors Equity Member Tyce as sweet and sensitive band-member Mark. You might remember Tyce from when he played Franz in last summer’s Rock of Ages or perhaps you were lucky enough to catch the show the evening he filled in for the lead and still managed to pull of his own role! If you have not seen him perform yet, this is your chance. In the meantime, Tyce was generous enough to let us interview him about life as an actor, his upcoming show, and his experiences at Center REP.

How did you get into theatre? How old were you? What do you think drew you to it?

I want to say middle school… I remember being in theatre because it was the only place I could be funny and not get in trouble. I always got in trouble in other classes for making jokes and quips, so theatre was an awesome place where being wacky was encouraged! It took me a while to get confident, though. I remember my middle school drama teacher wanted me to play Macbeth (you can type it without the curse, right?) and I was so afraid of being the lead, I chose King Duncan instead. Eventually, things got better…

Can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where are you from? Where do you live now?

I am originally from Houston, Texas and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of theatre there. Shortly after a year of college, I moved to NYC and that’s where I live now. It’s the greatest city in the world and I love it more and more each year.

You were so wonderful in Rock of Ages. I saw you perform the night you sang in for the lead. Can you tell me a little bit about that? How did you prepare so quickly?

Thank you! It was such a fun show and our entire cast was incredible!! Oh my gosh, so you’re referring to the weekend of shows where I had to not only perform my usual role as Franz, but also SING the leading role of Drew. It was definitely one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had onstage. I woke up Saturday morning around 10am (our matinee was at 2pm) to a call from the artistic director, saying the lead actor lost his voice (Nikita, who played Drew, was incredible, make no mistake, but sickness happens), and he just asked me flat out, “Can you sing the role?” and I said yes without even blinking. I guess I should say I was stressed out about it, but I wasn’t because I had known the music for YEARS, so it was a breeze. The only thing that really surprised me were the duet harmonies, none of which I had ever rehearsed, and then suddenly I was onstage singing a duet with Sherrie, haha!! Doing two roles of course came with some hilarious moments having to literally shift from one end of the stage as Drew to the other end of the stage as Franz within a matter of words, but the audience loved it, and I had a blast too!

What do you love about working for Center Rep?

This is my second year here at Center Rep and I really love their attitude. Michael Butler, the artistic director, has always been so gracious to me and rehearsals are fun and collaborative. I think that is so important, having a collaborative experience, and I always feel able to voice my opinions on scenes and characters, etc. And the shows are always sold out! It’s nice to play to full crowds every night!

What compelled you to submit for Altar Boyz?

Well, honestly, it was proximity! I just happened to be here doing Rock of Ages while they were auditioning Altar Boyz and I thought “why not!?” I had seen the show Off-Broadway in NYC in the 2000’s and thought it was hilarious. And I have to give props to Center Rep, because they really came through to get me here. I probably shouldn’t say it, but it can be an arduous process trying to negotiate contracts, etc. and I know they really went out of their way to make it possible for me to come here this year. I am extremely grateful for it and doing this show has been such a fun and rewarding experience. The cast is wonderful.

I heard you are releasing an album? Can you tell me a little bit about that? Is it your first? What genre is it? Etc.

Yeah! Tyce: HERO is my debut album and it’s out now on iTunes/ Amazon, and they’re also for sale at Altar Boyz, too! It’s a rock album, all songs by Jim Steinman (Grammy Award winner who wrote ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,’ etc). It’s definitely one of the most incredible projects of which I’ve ever taken part, and it includes some classic tunes originally recorded by Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion, as well as some new Steinman tunes. The goal is to bridge the generation gap and bring some of these classic rock tunes into the new age.

What have your biggest challenges been as a performer? What do you love about it?

Gosh, I hesitate to say that I don’t really see many challenges myself. I think perhaps the constant search for the next “new” thing or “fulfilling” project is always looming, but that’s just part of the business. I was just talking to someone today about really having to balance between the projects that fill your wallet and the projects that fill your heart. I feel like I’ve done a great job at that, though, because I worked very hard to maintain that balance. There are SO many things I love about performing, too many to list. At the core, it’s the craft. Building an amazing story that you can share with an audience is reason enough, and though we don’t do it for the glory, when an audience GETS us, it’s such a beautiful reward.

How are you liking working on Altar Boyz? What can audiences anticipate going into opening night this Tuesday?

Altar Boyz is amazing!!! It’s an incredibly fun and energized show, fast paced and uplifting! Audiences are going to have FUN, I can’t say that enough! It’s like a big exciting escape for a couple of hours — we really like fun at the “boy band” concert style, lovingly of course. My hope is that audiences will welcome the “Boyz” into their hearts and just be able to jam out!!!

Tell me a little bit about your character. Are there any similarities between your character and you? What have been the biggest challenges and greatest rewards in playing Mark?

Mark is the choreographer of the group, which is HILARIOUS because anyone who knows me (Tyce) knows that I’m just about the last person you’d want in charge of dancing, haha! So, needless to say, we differ there. I am so thankful for our incredible director and choreographer, Keith Pinto, who has very diligently and graciously kept my spirits high, especially in moments of frustration. His choreography is stellar and it takes so much precision, much of which was out of my wheelhouse prior to this production, so I’m beyond grateful for that and this cast, too. My character, Mark, is a great guy; he’s fun, energetic, and I like to think he’s the super-hyped version of me, especially when I get extra silly around my friends. It is great to play a role that comes naturally. I get to just be the silliest of silly and nothing I do is ever too much, which is an actor’s dream!

Why do you think theatre is important? How do you feel about all of the potential cuts to arts budgets in schools?

I’ll make this easy. Theatre is important because it changes lives. It is ludicrous that the arts are always on the chopping block. We need the arts because it encompasses so many genres, not just performing, and its impact on young people especially is so paramount to their growth as human beings. You can take two minutes and Google the statistics on adults who were exposed to the arts as children and you’ll find they have exponentially higher career success rates than adults who had little or no exposure to the arts. There is a direct connection, whether the child goes into an arts field or not. For many, it’s a way to express feelings in ways that are otherwise emotionally inaccessible; for others, it’s an opportunity to express creativity without the fear of being judged. I could go on and on. The arts matter.

Tyce’s album Tyce:HERO is now available for purchase: https://www.tyceofficial.com/hero/

For tickets to Altar Boyz visit: http://www.centerrep.org/season1617/altarboyz.php