“I haven’t done a whole lot. This is my first huge thing. This is my first bite. I was waiting it out and then I caught a really, really big fish.” – Tyler Lea
You’d be forgiven for not knowing Tyler Lea‘s name since the young actor is making his Broadway debut in the lead role of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In an interview with Playbill, he discusses how he landed the role with little stage experience and the pressure of living up to the actor who originated the role on Broadway in a Tony Award-winning performance.
Though Lea moved to New York to try and break into acting, his first professional job was actually in San Diego in the Cygnet Theatre Company’s 2013 production of Shakespeare’s R&J. Afterward he returned to New York. Little was happening for him until he auditioned to take over in the lead role in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. After the third audition, Lea “was waiting [for the call]. I didn’t know when it was going to happen.” He was especially nervous because of his short list of acting credits. He notes, “I haven’t done a whole lot. This is my first huge thing. This is my first bite. I was waiting it out and then I caught a really, really big fish.”
While the audition process was challenging enough, the bigger challenge comes in succeeding Alex Sharp, who won a Tony Award playing Christopher. Lea explains, “I definitely felt the pressure: the pressure of living up to his performance, and then to be able to come in to step into this play that’s a really good play. I definitely wanted to do the best I could do. But eventually I got over the pressure with Alex. One of the things that I realized was that I started to own the part myself. Once I started to learn it and it was mine, I thought, ‘I don’t have to live up to what Alex did.'”
Lea points out that his version of Christopher couldn’t be the same as Sharp’s. He says, “Everyone is going to bring something different to Christopher. You can’t do what someone else does. You can only draw on your own experiences. I guess once I started to realize that, I started to think more about what I was doing with Christopher… bringing truth to that instead of worrying about pressure.”
That pressure also gives way to Lea’s excitement in finally appearing on a Broadway stage. He explains, “You look at Broadway forever and it’s like, ‘Man, I just want to be in that world. I just want to do it so bad. I want to be acting on that stage. And then when it actually happens, it’s like, ‘Wow. Is it real? It doesn’t feel real.’ I don’t really know how to describe it, when you’re finally in it. It’s awesome.”