by Merdan Olevic
Woodbridge High School alumnus Russell Fischer, class of 2004, decided to continue his life-long passion for theater arts after graduating. Since then, he’s performed in multiple shows including the Broadway hit Jersey Boys. Today, Russell Fischer prepares for upcoming shows and his future in theater arts.
Barron Perspective: How long have you been performing?
Russell Fischer: Since age 3, professionally since age 8.
BP: What inspired you to begin performing?
RF: The idea of lifting a story off the page and living in it.
BP: Which shows have you performed in so far?
RF: The Sound of Music, and Children of Eden (Papermill Playhouse), Big-The Musical, (Tour) Thoroughly Modern Millie (Plays-In-The-Park), The Music Man (Chautauqua Opera) and most recently, a six-year run in the Broadway company of Jersey Boys.
BP: What activities/clubs were you in involved in at WHS?
RF: Chamber, concert, and show choirs, the senior class musical, and a Barron mascot.
BP: What was your favorite experience at WHS?
RF: Performing in PIPPIN my senior year.
BP: Which teachers influenced you at WHS? How?
RF: Beth Amory and Q. Bunch were most influential because they valued our individuality and our work as young adults. Class and rehearsals were always regarded as a professional endeavor and it completely helped shape my capacity to work within the context of a team.
BP: Have any teachers helped you after high school? If so, in what way(s)?
RF: Tom Lynch, as an editor of the Theatre World Books, introduced me to the Theatre World Awards, which are given to actors making their Broadway debuts in principal roles. Watching these gifted artists deliver some of the most heartfelt, passionate acceptance speeches was a charge to keep moving forward and never stop learning.
BP: What did you learn in high school that prepared you for where you are now?
RF: Two words: Music. Theory.
BP: What is the most challenging part of being in the acting business?
RF: [There] will always be rejection. Over time you learn to “bless and release.”
BP: What was your idea of success in high school? How has that changed since?
RF: This is a very good question. My idea of success was never “Broadway,” but rather consistently working. Being on Broadway is [a] measure of success, but it isn’t the ultimo. You must define what success is to you, not by what others’ idea of success is. So [as] long as you follow that which wakes you up in the morning – the work that leaves you happy, creative and curious – you’ve remained true to your purpose.
BP: Have you reached your idea of success?
RF: For me, the moment I say, “I’ve reached a certain point in my career where I feel comfortable,” I should really find something else to do. I’ve enjoyed some measure of success, [but] I [still] prepare for audition[s]. Always ask, “What’s next?” Opportunities seldom come along; most times you have to make them for yourselves.
BP: Do you have any shows coming up? What are they?
RF: I’m currently touring with fellow Jersey Boys and Motown alum in a group called “The Doo Wop Project.” I’ll also be playing “Linus” in Out of the Box Theatrics’ inaugural production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in the fall.
Doo Wop Project Instagram: @thedoowopproject
Facebook: The Doo Wop Project
Out of the Box Theatrics: www.outoftheboxtheatrics.com