CLEVELAND, Ohio — This fall, we told you about Sean Grandillo, a 23-year-old Aurora native who made his Broadway debut in the white-hot revival of “Spring Awakening,” the pop-infused, coming-of-age musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik.
On Tuesday, he learned Deaf West Theatre’s remarkable production had earned three 2016 Tony nominations for best revival of a musical, best direction of a musical (Michael Arden) and best lighting design of a musical (Ben Stanton).
Like any good millennial, Grandillo took to Facebook to share his unlikely journey to the world’s biggest stage and why sometimes, big risks reap unimaginable rewards:
Put. Yourself. Out there. Don’t scoff at any opportunity.
Two years ago I made a YouTube video and sent it to Deaf West Theatre and Michael Arden, auditioning for what was really a workshop production of Spring Awakening: 99-seat theater. No money. No plans of anything more.
They offered me a role. Then I had a couple of decisions to make.
I was actually rehearsing to play Romeo at a small theater in Cleveland at the time. Not to mention, I was planning on heading back to Ithaca College after the summer to continue working towards my degree. SPRING AWAKENING required a move, across the country to Los Angeles, less than three weeks from when I was offered the role. It was difficult to justify, for my parents, for myself.
But I truly had a feeling ‘in my gut’ that this was right.
So I convinced my parents, took a leave of absence from school, and made a difficult call to the director to drop out of Romeo and Juliet, followed by a frantic craigslist search to find somewhere to live. Then we drove across the country. Then I was in Los Angeles, no connections, no friends even, but threw myself completely into the work and joy of the rehearsals and world of Spring Awakening.
That move, that risk, changed everything.
Today, Spring Awakening Broadway received three Tony Awards Nominations, including ‘Best Revival of a Musical’. Michael is nominated for ‘Best Director of a Musical’.
This is unbelievable. So many fortunate things have happened thanks to one little video I made in 20 minutes, at my house; thanks to our wonderful casting director Beth Lipari for seeing some potential in me; thanks to the visionary Michael Arden.
Any opportunity could be like this one! Take them all! Make videos! Send them around!
Believe you have something special to offer and, I believe, special opportunities will find you.
I’m thrilled for my friends and so very proud to have been a part of this. None of us could have expected this… And that’s kind of the best part.