Ryan Steele has had quite the career for his age! From being cast right out of college as 'Baby John' in West Side Story on Broadway, to helping lead the newsboy's revolt in Disney's NEWSIES on Broadway as "Spec" & Dance Captain, to being "naughty" in the Original Broadway Cast (OBC) of MATILDA, and now he is taking the country by storm in the new National Tour of An American in Paris! Starring as "Jerry Alternate" and once again taking over as Dance Captain, Ryan chats with RyeTheNewsGuy.com about his whirlwind of a career and the new musical dancing it's way to a city near you!
What has it been like to take American In Paris (AIP) on Tour? How does it feel to be playing "Jerry Alternate" in the tour too? This is sort of your first big leading role, non-ensemble?
An American In Paris is one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever had the privilege to work on. Getting to share it with the country is incredibly exciting. Every city gives us a fresh new audience and a new opportunity to make someone fall in love with the show.
Playing Jerry every week has been a dream. It's not often that the leading man gets to dance as much as Jerry does. It's a huge challenge, but the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment I get after each performance makes each and every challenge worth it.
What is different from the Broadway production then this new tour? Have you kept a lot of the choreography the same?
One of the things that our team is really proud of is that we're bringing the exact same show that was seen on Broadway to cities across America. There may be tiny differences here and there that our director, Christopher Wheeldon, shaped to different cast members. But essentially, audiences are seeing that same Tony winning production from New York.
Are you excited to see how audiences react to this show on the road? It was quite popular on Broadway!
It's already been thrilling. I remember seeing touring shows growing up when they came through Michigan, and how lucky I felt getting to see them. I hope we're bringing that sort of joy to people across the country with this show.
You are quite a true Broadway Triple Threat with a heavy emphasis in dance. Tell me, how did you get started in dance, and how have you worked and trained yourself to become so good?
First off, that's very sweet. THANK YOU! I started dancing when I was about 6 at a dance studio in Michigan called the Dance Dynamics Performing Arts Center. It turned into my second home. I spent every second I could there training heavily in all dance styles. Our faculty was incredible, and shaped so many of us to be professional dancers.
What has been your most physically and emotionally demanding role on Broadway?
Oh gosh. That one is tough. Every show that I've done presented new challenges for me. I guess I'll say the revival of West Side Story where I played Baby John. The Jerome Robbins choreography was incredibly difficult to pull off 8 times a week. On top of that, I was 18 and had just moved to New York. It was a crazy time for me, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I learned so much.
Speaking of Broadway, you are most well-known for starring in the OBC casts of NEWSIES and MATILDA! In Newsies you played Spec and also was the dance captain. What was the NEWSIES experience like for you? Did they ask you back to film it? I'm sure you felt extra pressure being dance captain as well, can you explain what your role of dance captain was?
Newsies felt like one of those once-in-a-lifetime perfect-storm moments in my life. It was such a gift. I absolutely loved every second I had with the show. I got to work with the most incredible individuals and made life-long friends. I was unable to be a part of the filming, but I'm so excited that it will be preserved in that way.
Being the dance captain wasn't easy, but I loved the opportunity. The choreography was so special. Christopher Gattelli is one of my favorite people to work with, and to be able to work with him on that level was life changing.
What did you like most about Matilda?
I'm in love with that show. I think it's so smart. Tim Minchin's score is out of this world, and Peter Darling's choreography is on another level. It was mind blowing to me that I got to be a part of it. Also getting to share that experience with all of the children in the cast was really special. The talent and the heart that every one of those kids had inspired me every day.
You've garnered huge raves and attention from the hit docu-movie FIVE DANCES. Where did the idea for this concept come from? Did you think it was going to be so well perceived as it was?
FIVE DANCES was such a unique experience for me. It was like nothing else I had done before. I truly didn't know what to expect. I think that made it easier to be present in the process, rather than hoping for a certain outcome. The whole team behind the film was so helpful and encouraging and really easy to trust. So the cast of dancers felt so supported to just jump right into it.
Your list goes on and on of Broadway and tour credits.. What has been your favorite show to be in and why?
That's such a hard question. I feel like I have a different answer every time I'm asked. I think I'll say An American In Paris. Beyond the beauty of the show, this experience is allowing me to travel the country and learn so much. I'm being pushed to do things I've never done before. I'm discovering so much about myself as an artist and a person.
What are some pre show rituals you do before you go on?
A lot of warming up and tons of deep breaths. When I go on as Jerry, as soon as the show starts, it's a non-stop speeding train. You don't really get time to breathe. So I try and find a nice grounded place to kick the show off from.
When will you be playing Jerry while in Philly?
I'll be on for the Saturday matinee and Sunday matinee.
Is there a certain stop your excited for?
I'm really excited to spend December in Florida :). That will be a nice change from New York winters.
What’s next for you? Album? Broadway? TV?
I'm not completely sure. This experience is opening me up to a lot of new ideas to me as an artist. I'm feeling ready to explore them all.
Where can we keep up with you?
Twitter and Instagram: @RySteele
Finally finish this sentence, AIP is.....something you all should see ;)