For Chris Newcomer, July 31 will be—in one sense—the first day of the rest of his life.
Next Tuesday, Newcomer will make his Broadway debut in Chicago as Mary Sunshine, the newspaper reporter who follows the trials of femme fatales Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart.
In spite of his extensive theater background, Newcomer’s imminent arrival on the Broadway stage is something of a surprise. The 29-year-old said he’s spent the last decade or so pursuing a career as an opera singer and came upon the Chicago role almost by chance.
In November, a friend helped set him up with an audition for a version of Chicago on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. He auditioned on a Monday, and the producers were so impressed, that by Friday he was singing in front of the Broadway creative team for a role at the famed Ambassador Theatre in Manhattan.
“It was very fast,” he said. “It’s been a very kind of roller coaster-ey kind of thing.”
Not that Newcomer—who got his start acting in plays at and with (when it was still the Moorestown Arts Advocacy Council)—is one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He’s ecstatic to have landed the role and, notwithstanding the requisite butterflies, is excited to get started.
“It’s very surreal, to be in this Broadway theater, meeting all these people I’ve seen before,” he said of his first trip up to meet his castmates.
The significance of this opportunity—which Newcomer likened to a minor league baseball player being called up to the major leagues—certainly isn’t lost on him either.
“It’s the beginning of a career, which is what I needed,” he said. “Once they see what I can do, once I go out there and prove myself, they can put me anywhere … I’ve performed for a large group before, and I think the nice thing about this is, it’s the first opportunity I’ve been given to show what I can really do.”
As of the beginning of this week, Newcomer will no longer be a Moorestonian. He’s moving to New York City this week and has decided to stay with a friend once his Chicago gig is over to continue to pursue the dream.
“I always said to myself, ‘I’ll move to New York when the iron’s hot,’” he said. “The iron’s never going to be hotter than a Broadway debut.”
Newcomer will be performing at the Ambassador from July 31 through Aug. 12.
“I’m just trying to slow down and enjoy it,” he said, “cause I know it’s going to pass by so fast.”
To read more about Newcomer, visit his website at www.chrisnewcomer.com.
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