Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spotlight On...CJ Pawlikowski

Name: CJ Pawlikowski

Hometown: Crown Point, IN

Education: BFA in Musical Theatre at Indiana University

Select Credits: Bend in the Road (Gilbert Blythe, NYMF); Grease (Teen Angel & Johnny Casino, Gateway Playhouse); The Ride (formally Plop) (Cade, Damon Intrabartolo's New Boyband Musical)

Why theater?: Because I tried everything else hah. I initially went to Indiana University for a degree in Graphic Design. And after switching my major about 6-7 times within the first few months, I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted Theatre to be my profession, rather than just a hobby. So, I auditioned for the Musical Theatre program at IU my sophomore year, and haven't looked back since. It was quite possibly the best decision of my life.

Tell us about Bend in the Road: Bend in the Road is a new musical, written by Benita Sheckel and Michael Upward, based on the Anne of Green Gables novel. Many young women are extremely familiar with Anne, an orphan who posses an overwhelming intrigue for life and human relationships. However, to be honest, I entered this project never having read the book or even seen the movie. But I find that a situation like that gives you, the actor, a new-found sense of freedom to create and mold the character to your own interpretation. I play Gilbert Blythe, the young-rebel classmate and love-interest of Anne. Gilbert is immediately entranced by Anne's intelligence and innocent demeanor, and continuously attempts to woo her throughout the piece. It's been such a pleasure crafting and and growing with this show, and I'm really looking forward to see where it goes from here!

What is it like being a part of Bend in the Road?: I can honestly say it has been an absolute pleasure and adventure from Day 1. I had just finished a contract in Long Island, arrived back in the city, went in for a callback for Bend in the Road, and was cast that evening (the day before rehearsals began). It was a whirlwind! But I'm so thankful that things unraveled the way they did. This creative team is INCREDIBLE. Ben Klein, the director, is so devoted to effectively telling this timeless story, and it is clearly evident throughout every scene and beat. His attention to detail with character motivation and development has been a breath-of-fresh-air for a lot of us in the cast. And Andrew Gerle, the music director, dissects each song to it's core dynamic, lyric, and overall message within the show. His precision in his musical direction is so refreshing to witness and perform.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Aside from having a large passion for producing new work (such as Bend in the Road), I'm such a sucker for a feel-good spectacle hah. With that said, when a piece can seamlessly entertain and inspire, that's when art happens. There is so much inspiration to be found all around us. Whether in relevant political debates, or a beautiful sunset viewed from the park, inspiration is infinite and always easily accessible. The world is a beautiful place, and art merely reflects what is around us.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I'm still waiting for Harry Potter the Musical to make it's way to Broadway, and when it does, I call dibs. Until then, I've had my eyes set on Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys for quite some time. And I'd love to take a crack at Davey in Newsies! I also hear Aladdin is coming to Broadway... I'm just not convinced that a 6'0" tall, scrawny, white kid is what they had in mind for the Prince of Thieves.

What’s your favorite showtune?:
I don't know if I can pick one, but I think West Side Story, to this day, is my favorite musical. I performed it once in high school (starring as Snowboy hah), and there is something about the score that gets me every time. "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Maria"... I just think the lyric is so beautifully written and the orchestration is entrancing. That score will always have a special place in my heart.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: David Holcenberg, currently the Music Director of Matilda, is a close friend of mine. I would love to eventually work together with him. He's been a great mentor for me in the city, and I really respect his work.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Let's go with Ryan Reynolds (because we basically have the same body) (just kidding). We do have a similar humor though. And it would be called "Happiness is a Choice." I think negativity is so easily remedied by a strong will and choosing to look for the good in every situation. Life's too short.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I know I'm a little late in the game, but Once blew my mind. The musicality in that ensemble is absolutely breath taking. It was the first time, in ages, that I had completely forgotten I was seeing a show, because I was so engulfed in their brilliance and talent.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
Chocolate Ice Cream. And scary movies. Now you know how I spend my Friday evenings.

What’s up next?: As of now, I don't have anything lined up for the Fall! But I really think that's the best part of this business: never knowing what is to come. You just have to have faith and keep believing that the next opportunity is on it's way!

For more on Bend in the Road, visit