Training, studying – and experiencing life – to become an actor has changed.
Sure, veteran actors love going on Inside the Actors Studio and telling stories of their lean years — moving to New York City straight out of high school, if they finished high school, living in a 9th floor walkup dump in Hell’s Kitchen with four other struggling actors, worrying about making rent, taking acting classes by day, waiting on tables at night, auditioning for every role posted and getting rejected, rejected, rejected.
Now another path to learning the craft is available to young people with talent and ambition.
Ryne Nardecchia graduated from Klein Oak High School four years ago. Instead of moving to the East or West coast, he went to Texas State University in San Marcos, enrolled in its College of Fine Arts and Communication, and graduated with a degree in musical theater.
One month after walking across a stage in cap and gown, Nardecchia is starring in the musical, The World According to Snoopy, a Theatre Under the Stars production at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a “reimagining” of the musical Snoopy!!!.
“This is a huge thing for me, and Texas State presented me this opportunity. Most of my friends who are pursuing theater as a career are going to college instead of jumping right into the world. In college, you can mess up and it’s okay. You’re not depending on a paycheck. In the first few years of college, it’s about the process, not so much about the product. The product comes later. There’s less on the line. Now I feel I’m ready to go out in the world and apply all the things I’ve learned during my time at Texas State,” Nardecchia said.
“The World According to Snoopy” debuted in February at Texas State University. Houston and the Hobby Center is its first regional production. There are plans to take “Snoopy” on the road.
First job out of college
Nardecchia is Snoopy. First job out of college and he’s the title character. And he’s performing in his hometown.
“It’s cool to come back to Houston with this play. I’m from here. I’m performing in places where I grew up and learned how to perform in high school,” he said.
The World According to Snoopy features all the familiar characters, including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Peppermint Patty and Woodstock, from Charles M. Schulz’s beloved “Peanuts” comic strip that ran from 1950 to 2000 in thousands of newspapers in the U.S. and 75 more countries.
The original Snoopy!!! has been “reimagined” into The World According to Snoopy by adding new songs and more dancing. Nardecchia is onstage practically the entire show. He has four solo songs. The rest of the time he’s singing and dancing with other cast members or, typical Snoopy, lying on top of his dog house. He even does a comedy routine with Woodstock, who doesn’t talk. Neat trick. He knows what Penn feels like during a Penn and Teller show.
Some of the “reimagining” is left to the audience. Nardecchia isn’t wearing a dog costume like a sports mascot.
“I do wear a costume, but it’s very minimal. I wear a white turtleneck and white pants and shoes, but there’s no floppy dog ears or dog nose. My costume accessories are a vest when I’m playing a theater manager, a Red Baron outfit or sunglasses and a Joe Cool shirt. The audience has to accept that I’m Snoopy,” Nardecchia said.
The World According to Snoopy runs through June 18 at the Hobby Center. For tickets, click on TUTS.com.
Or here’s a bonus deal I’ve arranged with the show. You know my “Pethouse Pet of the Week” feature that runs every Friday in CultureMap? Sneak preview: This week I’ve got an insanely cute Dachshund named Marty who, as we speak, is being groomed and packing his bags.
The first 10 people who adopt a pooch from Citizens for Animal Protection on Saturday will get two free tickets to The World According to Snoopy.
It really is a “dog meets dog world.” Details Friday in the “Pethouse” column on CultureMap.Training, studying – and experiencing life – to become an actor has changed.
Ken Hoffman can be reached at email@example.com. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook. To have all CultureMap stories delivered to your inbox in one Daily Digest every morning, sign up here.