By: Matt Shelosky M.A. '13
Nic Rouleau spends most of his time these days backstage on the sixth floor of the Eugene O’ Neill Theatre in Midtown Manhattan. However, Rouleau isn’t stage managing, collecting props or assisting other actors with their costumes - he’s watching and waiting.
Rouleau’s eyes are locked on the The Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells on the chance that the Tony-nominated actor might need a stand-in at any point in the show. Rouleau (B.M. ’09) has been the standby for Rannells’ character Elder Price since last summer.
“It’s an exhilarating experience, because you always have to be ready,” said Rouleau, who has performed the complete Elder Price role more than 20 times for Broadway audiences.
Rouleau was bitten by the “theater bug” at the age of 9 when he was cast as a lost boy in Peter Pan.
“I didn’t know much about acting then, but I knew I loved being on stage, and since then I’ve really never left,” said Rouleau.
Rouleau came to NYU in 2005 pursuing a degree in Music Theatre. Throughout the program, Rouleau honed his dancing, vocal and acting skills and before graduation had already signed with an agent.
“The really exciting part is that Nic was able to put together skill sets during several shows,” said NYU Music Theatre Professor John Simpkins. “It was truly fun to watch him experiment in different stylistic ways, especially through new works projects. They gave him a particular set of skills and the ability to turn on a dime, something all actors need to learn.”
Simpkins believes that the amount of opportunities and instruction style plus NYU’s New York location allowed Rouleau to realize early success.
“We’re teaching students to become well-rounded performers, but maybe more importantly, we’re preparing people for the experience of getting a job,” said Simpkins. “Because we're in New York, our faculty includes working directors and agents, and other officials regularly attend our performances. Those experiences prepared someone like Nic, and others, to navigate the audition process, which is almost as important as any of the skills.”
After graduation, Rouleau toured with Disney Cruise Lines as Woody in Toy Story and was also cast as Emmett in a touring production of Legally Blonde: The Musical. “I really enjoyed getting to know the casts on the tours, but I felt after those two shows that I wanted to come back to New York to try and find a part,” said Rouleau.
couldn’t have been more perfect for his spot in Mormon.
“The training I received at NYU, coupled with my agent, whom I met because of my NYU performances, really gave me the confidence that I could go through Broadway auditions,” said Rouleau. “It was nerve-racking to go through all the call backs, but absolutely worth it.”
Simpkins said Rouleau was at the right place in his growth and career for the Mormon auditions.
“There are times when technique and training line up with a job offer,” said Simpkins. “Nic is fortunate to have received the awesome training, and he was truly an attractive package for the casting directors at that exact moment.”
Rouleau follows Melanie Field and Jay Johnson as two other recent graduates with Broadway success. Field performed in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera as well as in the national tour of Wicked. She’s currently getting ready for performances of Evita starring Latin pop sensation Ricky Martin.
Johnson performed with Rouleau while at NYU. He was recently in Broadway’s revival of Hair and Catch Me If You Can. Simpkins attributes the success of graduates to the program and the location of NYU.
“Students can go to college wherever they choose, but if they want to do musical theater, they are going to have to come to New York,” said Simpkins. "Our program gives the necessary training but it’s also in the middle of the city where it's going on for real.”
Rouleau attributes his success to having the close proximity to the industry.
“The fact that my agent watched me from the audience of an NYU performance and that you meet so many influential people is priceless,” said Rouleau. “If I had to choose all over again, I’d choose my program, 100 percent.”
While Rouleau is thrilled with his Mormon role, he’d like to one day star in the opening of a Broadway show and win a Tony Award. He’d also like to perform in other venues across the city.
“If there’s one place I’d like to perform, it would be at Lincoln Center,” said Rouleau. “A place with such tradition and stature in the musical and performing world is at the top of my list, so maybe one day.”