Posted by Bruce Miller
Corey Bradley made his Broadway debut in the recent revival of Ragtime. But he made his stage debut 18 years earlier playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz at Theatre IV. I think I'm right about that. Corey was in a lot of Theatre IV shows during his formative years in Richmond. I'm not completely sure which one came first. I'll have to do some checking.
Hannah and I had the chance to visit Corey at the stage door of Ragtime last weekend, after enjoying his terrific performance at the Neil Simon Theatre. Ragtime was on our list of shows to see because:
* it was scheduled to close on Sunday, our final day in town,
* neither Hannah nor I had ever seen Ragtime on Broadway before, and
* Chase had let us know, after his earlier trip north to catch this revival, that Corey was in the cast.
After curtain call, we went to the stage door as soon as we could clear the crowds. We figured Corey would probably be leaving early, as ensemble members often do. I didn't want to miss him.
The stage door was jammed, so I almost didn't see Corey as he made his exit onto the sidewalk and then turned right, slipping past the crowd-control barricades into the open air rather than turning left to run the gauntlet of autograph hounds.
As soon as I saw him break away from the pack, I grabbed Hannah and we dashed out onto 52nd Street to avoid the crowds, chasing Corey as he walked down the sidewalk. When we were close enough, I hollered out his name, and he turned and saw us.
It's been a few years, and I have the extra pounds and gray hair to prove it. Also the last time Corey saw Hannah, she was probably in first grade. So as we walked up, I held out my hand and said, "Bruce Miller, Theatre IV."
Corey's face lit up, he knocked my hand out of the way and gave me a big hug. "I'm so proud of you," I said. "You cast me in my first show," he beamed. "It's so good to see you. How's everything at Theatre IV?"
I know this is the exact conversation that takes place somewhere on Broadway every night, as proud teachers and directors unexpectedly visit former students and actors who've now made it to the big time. No matter how many times I have this conversation, it always tears me up (feel free to pronounce the word "tears" whichever way you choose). I'm a sentimental slob, I know, but there's something endlessly affirming about seeing kids you've enjoyed working with turn out so well.
I think Corey's last role with us was playing Tommy Djilas in The Music Man during one of our summer seasons at Collegiate. After graduating from high school, Corey earned his BFA in Musical Theatre / Dance at Elon University in North Carolina. Since then, he's achieved non-stop success, appearing in the national tours of Mamma Mia!, Fosse, Chicago, and West Side Story. In Las Vegas, he appeared in We Will Rock You and with Hugh Jackman in Hugh Jackman: In Time, directed by George C. Wolfe and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall.
In addition to The Music Man (Theatre IV), Corey's regional credits include Hot Mikado (Westchester Broadway Theatre), Showboat (North Show Music Theatre), La Cage aux Folles (North Carolina Theatre), Joseph... (Downtown Cabaret Theatre), and Ragtime (Kennedy Center).
Film and television credits include being a principal dancer in Disney's Enchanted, Sex and the City, and Spike Lee's He Got Game.
Corey asked me to send greetings to all his friends in Richmond, which I'm more than happy to do. I assured him that all of us at Barksdale and Theatre IV send all best wishes right back to him.
So many talented actors make their way through Richmond each year, and a great many of them (I'm thinking now of Matts Polson and Shofner, who close in Putnam County Spelling Bee this afternoon) return to appear in subsequent shows even as they build careers in major markets. Few theatre communities can claim this degree of success. With all the talk on other blogs of what's professional and what isn't, we should all be very proud to be exactly what we are.
I hope to see you soon at a Richmond theatre, as we all catch the current performance, perhaps, of one of Broadway's future stars!