Today we add to our pages another young and coming talent, Jon Viktor Corpuz. Jon is a singer/actor/songwriter/musician based in New York City. He was most recently seen in Julie Taymor’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theater for A New Audience. Broadway: Godspell (The Cast of 2032 – Telly). Regional: The King & I (Prince Chulalongkorn, dir. Alan Muraoka). Workshops/Readings: Welcome To My Life (W2ML) by Bobby Cronin, Sticks + Stones by Joe Barros and Vince Peterson (New York Theatre Barn’s New Works Series). Selected Theatre: Cabaret (Emcee), RENT (Angel), and more. He has made performance appearances with the likes of Miranda Sings and Christine Pedi, in venues such as Birdland and 54 Below, in New York City. Jon is also an avid singer and musician. This year, he was selected to be a part of the Kooman and Dimond/American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Musical Theatre Songwriting Workshop. He currently attends Professional Performing Arts School in New York City, where he is a musical theater major and coming senior. He is a member of the upcoming summer intensive A Cappella Academy (founded by Ben Bram, Avi Kaplan, and Robert Dietz) where global a cappella phenomenon Pentatonix are the artists-in-residence.
TTN: Jon, you recently performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theater for a New Audience in New York, what can you tell us about that production?
JON: Yes! Well, Julie Taymor was the director, she had just worked on Spiderman on Broadway and this show was kind of a comeback for her as she had taken some time off from directing. Julie has won an Emmy Award and two Tony Awards for her work. Her credits are endless! She’s such a genius, I’m so honored to have gotten the chance to work with her, and just to watch her work was incredible.
TTN: What was your role in the production and how did that come to be?
JON: Julie is very innovative and inventive when it comes to taking on works that are already written. She twists them creatively into her signature style. She wanted to create fairies that were off kilter, almost nymph-like, raw and edgy. She named us the “rude elementals,” meaning the raw elements of the forest. We could be logs, or trees, or even spirits, depending on the scene in the show. We were very eclectic, almost higher beings or observers. We were virtually onstage the entire show doing things. She cast kids from 8-18 and there were about 15-20 of us performing.
TTN: What was your audition like for this role?
JON: The audition was actually not that exciting in terms of how I got the audition! My agent and manager sent me out. It was very grueling as there were three auditions: the initial audition and then two callbacks. A ton of kids were called in. It was interesting because we had no idea what direction she was going in during the audition, because it was all out of context from the show. We just kind of had to go with it. We had all these poles and fabric to work with, and it was very physical. Of course she had it all planned out in her mind as to what she wanted, which we found out later in the rehearsal process.
TTN: What was the performance schedule like?
JON: We had shows eight times a week. Typically one show a night, sometimes two because of matinees. When we had student matinees it sometimes ended up being nine or ten times a week. We were off Mondays.
TTN: Now that it has ended, how would you sum up your experience with the show?
JON: It was really very interesting. Honestly, that was my first time ever doing a show eight times a week. I hadn’t done shows this close together and this often before. The caliber of the people in the show and working on the show was just insane, in a good way, and it was very interesting to see them work and to see them interact with others and with me because we were all kids. I’m really glad this was my first experience with a show of this caliber, I got to be a fly on the wall for a lot of the process and got to really observe how everyone worked.
TTN: So the professional aspect of the show made it a different experience from other productions you have done?
JON: It was very different. This was their job. In shows, it usually becomes very much a family and there’s usually lots of camaraderie between the cast and crew. You could feel the weight of this being a professional production and that it was Julie’s comeback. Everyone was on their toes. This was also the first time I dealt with reviews and press…that type of thing.
TTN: You are so young, what prompted you to move to NYC to be involved in theater?
JON: When I was a freshman in high school, we heard about an open call in New York for the Godspell Cast of 2032. It was basically a marketing strategy by the Broadway producers of Godspell trying to garner interest in the show because they were on the verge of closing. So they were going to have this night where they had “mini-me’s” of the cast perform an encore number after the show. My family and I drove up there on vacation and I auditioned and when I got back to Florida I learned I got a callback, so I flew back up for the second round of auditions. It was so cool that I got it. I had been obsessing over that revival soundtrack for months! For the performance we got dressed up in exact replicas of the costumes of our “older selves” and performed a medley of songs from the show after curtain call. After that performance, my family and I decided that there were a lot more opportunities in NYC to pursue, so we came up for the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. I auditioned for schools in the area, and I got a feel for what the city was like and what it had to offer. I went back to Florida, where I started school, just in case, but then after a week or so learned that I had gotten into PPAS so I came back to NYC!
TTN: Where do you attend school now?
JON: I go to Professional Performing Arts School. I’m currently a junior.
TTN: What other extraordinary performance opportunities have you had?
JON: I did an invited presentation of a musical that got picked up for a Broadway option two years ago. It’s called “Welcome To My Life (W2ML).” It’s a musical by Bobby Cronin and is about teenagers who are, for various reasons, troubled, and are sent away to a brat camp. It focuses on their stories, how they got there and their overall growth throughout the course of the camp. They grow to love and accept themselves and one another by the end of the whole process. The musical interestingly speaks to the stigma that people have toward quote-unquote “juvenile delinquents.” These are all just normal kids who got into unfortunate situations. The show is actually based on reality. Bobby visited some of the camps to do research by participating in the activities with the kids and interviewing them. He is very passionate about this project and his music is just awesome. I am also doing another reading coming up at the end May, this is another presentation but it is open to the public. It is a musical about bullying called “Sticks + Stones” by Joe Barros and Vince Peterson.
TTN: Tell us about your opportunity this summer with Pentatonix!
JON: Yes, there is an a cappella group called Pentatonix, they won the third season of The Sing-Off on NBC and they have dominated the a capella/YouTube music scene and have been really blowing up since. They had announced an academy for high schoolers to come to LA for a little over a week, to learn about the a cappella world and sing and work with innovative musicians prominent in the world of a cappella. I sent in an audition tape and was selected. I’m really excited about this opportunity as there were about 900 submissions and only 66 of us were selected! I’ll be taking workshops and classes and there will be a culminating performance at the end of the camp. I’ll also be working with young singers and musicians from literally all around the world, so I’m excited to be building friendships and connections that will hopefully last a lifetime.
TTN: That’s great Jon, sounds like an excellent opportunity! So, what are your earliest memories of being inspired by the arts?
JON: I have been singing as long as I can remember, it is part of the Filipino culture that I grew up in. We would go to karaoke bars when I was little, so that’s actually where I got my start and where the music bug hit me. Music will always be my first love. Acting I love as well, but music the most. The first show I saw was Cats and I just loved it. I wanted to be up there on stage! I totally am not ashamed to say that because I still think it’s awesome despite the bad rap the show gets. I don’t know what about it hit me so much. Maybe the music. It was so theatrical and crazy and lively, I fell in love.
TTN: What words do you have to pass on to other young talent?
JON: Be a go-getter, never take no for answer, never feel entitled to anything, never take anything for granted, work your butt off, follow your gut. Be true to yourself about what you are putting out there in the world, just keep being you!!
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