Thursday, February 19, 2015

Broadway revival of The King and I features former student Jon Viktor Corpuz

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory theater alumnus Jon Viktor Corpuz who landed a lead role in the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King & I.

Directed by Tony-award winning Bartlett Sher, and starring five-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara and Academy Award nominee Ken Watanabe, the show opens next month at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. Corpuz plays Prince Chulalongkorn, the eldest son of the King and heir to the throne.

Corpuz, 18, developed a love for the theater right here at the Conservatory as a student in our summer program. He is currently a professional actor in New York City and attends the Professional Performing Arts School. He was recently accepted on full scholarship to NYU’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music.

Check out this Q and A with Corpuz as he chats about his time as a student here, being a lifelong learner and what it's like to be on Broadway!

Follow Jon on Twitter @jonviktorcorpuz.

Where are you from, and when did you study at the Patel Conservatory?
Born in Tampa, Fla. I studied acting and theater at Patel from ages 8 to10, around 2005-2007.

What classes did you take at the Conservatory?
A beginner on-camera acting class, a beginner musical theater class, and three productions. Humble beginnings!

What did you enjoy about taking classes at the Conservatory?
Patel is where the theater/performing bug concretely hit me. I grew up a shy child and Patel kind of thrust me out of my shell and helped me face my fears head on. At Patel, I was bewilderingly single-cast as the lead in the first musical I had ever been a part of (which was original material) in a cast of over 100 kids! The show was in Ferguson Hall. Pretty cool.

What are some favorite memories from your time there?
The memory that sticks out most to me was definitely landing the lead (Jacob) in the Community Arts Ensemble original musical, Animalopolis - which also happened to be my first-ever time performing in a musical. I really was not expecting getting that role in the SLIGHTEST. I remember crying at home to my parents after auditions thinking I wouldn't even be cast, much less land the lead.

I had joined the production late in the process and was competing against over 100 other kids. I was really not expecting it. But, I got it, and that experience was a transformative one for me. I think it was the first time I realized I could actually take this "performing thing" seriously and pursue it. What was crazy was the fact that it was full-length, full-on original material which was being tailored to the actors! In hindsight, I realize this is such a rarity at eight years old...The orchestra was all students, and my sister played the other lead. Pretty magical. Aside from that, I just remember having so much fun at Patel and making lots of childhood friends. Definitely some cool memories.

How has studying the performing arts been beneficial to you?
Studying performing has helped me not only develop a good skillset/foundation to become successful professionally, but it has also helped me just in life in general.
In theater, acting, music, you're constantly collaborating with others from all walks of life, which is such an invaluable skill to learn early on. You're constantly listening to others' ideas, which may be different from your own, and working with all types of people, but at the end of the day you're all creating something together. You never stop learning in life and you're always constantly growing and evolving. My experiences at Patel, among others, helped to lay the foundation for me to become and continue to be an avid learner.

Do you have any advice for students who want to study the performing arts?
Work hard, be you, be bold, and never let anyone tell you that you aren't capable of achieving something. If you really, truly love what you're doing, don't listen to the naysayers: they'll be coming out of the woodworks to congratulate you when you're successful in the future. I know that firsthand. Keep going, never stop. Do it for you above anything else! (This is as much a mantra for me as advice to anyone else.)
Always continue learning, always be inspired and do the work!

Any other comments?
Patel is more or less where it all started for me. Such a safe haven to let me express myself as an artsy and imaginative little boy. Don't know where I'd be today without those critical early experiences.

As for what it's like to be a lead in a Broadway show... 
It's awesome! As I said, I'm always learning, and this is, of course, no exception. Everyone here is so on top of their game and are all such intelligent, kind, and gracious human beings...I know it's very much an honor to be here, so I'm very aware of that always and am just trying to learn as much as I can.

There's also a ton of pressure because it's my Broadway debut, but also, I don't think this role has ever been interpreted in the way we're seeing my character in this particular production. Chulalongkorn was very influential and really a revolutionary in real-life-Siam. In this production, we're seeing him at the cusp of adulthood and on the verge of kingship, on top of having his world turned upside-down by Western cultures and philosophies and coming into his own as a person and developing his own morals. So it's a lot! Our director, Bart, has been so helpful, though, and has really helped me unearth and humanize this person.

A lot of what goes into a revival of a well-known, well-revived musical is "Why now?" I feel like this story is so timely with everything that's happening in the world today. The clashes of cultures, countries, religions - this story really speaks to that and examines the push and pull of those relationships.

I'm very honored and excited and am just learning from everyone around me everyday!

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