Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spotlight On...Ethan Andersen

Name: Ethan Andersen

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

Education: I received a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University in North Carolina.

Favorite Credits: I got to play some pretty fun roles in school (like Burrs in The Wild Party and Woof in Hair) and I loved doing L.M. in Pump Boys… (because I got to play the piano too), but this production of HeadVoice at NYMF is by far the most artistically-fulfilling project I’ve been able to work on.

Why theater?: I love that you can create whatever world you want in theater. The possibilities are pretty limitless. At the same time, there are very real limitations: you have to stay in the same room and replicate it every night. That combination of physical limits but no artistic limits makes it very exciting and unlike any other art form.

Tell us about HeadVoice: HeadVoice is all about how one person deals and copes with his life through art. Eric has experienced some pretty intense events (find out what those are when you see the show!), and to cope with them, he retreats into his head and does the one thing he knows how to do: write a musical about it! Except he’s using the voices in his head to play all of the roles. The HeadVoices bring his story to life in that wonderful way musical theatre does with song and dance. Throughout the show, Eric fights having to tell his true story and dealing with what has happened to him.

What inspired you to write HeadVoice?: HeadVoice is a semi-autobiographical piece. As I began growing up and experiencing big events in my life, I started noticing how I’d use writing music as  a way to deal with and understand what had happened. And I thought that there was a story in that. Every single person has his/her own way to digest the things life throws at him/her. For those of the artistic-persuasion, many times it is with our art. That’s how Eric came about. And I thought personifying the voices in his head as the Id, Ego, and Super Ego would be a perfect way to define those individual personalities.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Any kind of theatre that tells a great story! It can be big, intimate, whatever. If it’s telling a strong story in an original way, I’m in. I’m especially inspired by writers and creators who are continuously pushing and expanding what theatre can do with musical style, content, etc. It’s so brave to say, “Okay, this is what theatre is now. What if we do this instead?”, but I have such a great respect for those creators who are keeping theatre alive and fresh.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I mean…Meryl Streep…that’s a no brainer.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: There’s so much great theatre happening right now! The best thing I’ve seen recently, though, was Fun Home. An amazing story told in a complex yet very simple way. And everything in that show serves the story. Talk about moving theatre forward!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I’m tempted to say Meryl Streep because, well, she can play anything. But maybe a nerdy Nicholas Hoult? Or I’ve been told a young Mickey Rooney? And I think it’d be called “E.T.(han)”.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: So many! But to see the original productions of West Side Story, Gypsy, or Sweeney Todd would be pretty amazing.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Swedish Fish. I don’t know why, but once I start, I just can’t stop. I just can’t quit you, Swedish Fish.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I’ve always wanted to teach, and I hope I will someday. But I’ve always been fascinated with graphic design. I don’t know much about it all, but I love to doodle and it seems like it would still be a very artistically fulfilling job. Or a Swedish Fish taste-tester.

What’s up next?: I’m excited to start working on some new projects! I’ve been writing HeadVoice for the last 5-ish years, so I’m ready to open my list of musical ideas and dive-in to the next. I also work as an accompanist and music director in the city, so I have a few concerts in the fall that I’ll be playing for as well. The plan is to stay busy!

For more on Ethan and HeadVoice, visit