Andrew Barth Feldman is a 19 year old actor and singer who started his career in theatre. The highlights album for In Pieces is available today and Andrew Barth Feldman has a recording feature. YEM was able to speak with Andrew all about his involvement with In Pieces, along with when he first got started getting into theatre, and about his time in the musical Dear Evan Hansen.
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Young Entertainment Mag: How did you get involved with In Pieces and could tell me a little bit about that?
Andrew Barth Feldman: Absolutely! Joey Contreras is such a fantastic composer and we very much run in a lot of the same circles. I did a production of Sweet Charity the musical when I was in my sophomore year of high school and he came to see it by chance. I was a very small role; I had half of one song, but he and Natalie Weiss, who is a mutual friend of ours and a frequent collaborator of his, both came to see it and were so kind. And then I won the Jimmy [Award] pretty soon after so I was very much on his radar. He reached out a few months ago asking me to sing this song and I was honored because I love his music so much.
YEM: And that’s the song Me and Mr. Popularity. Which is so good- I just listened to it!
Andrew: It’s an awesome song – totally in my wheelhouse. It’s just telling a story. It’s a beautiful song.
YEM: How old were you when you first got into theatre?
Andrew: When I did my first show I was eight years old, but when I fell in love with it, I was three years old. I saw Beauty and the Beast on Broadway when I was three years old and then I saw the movie High School Musical when I was four years old and that cemented everything.
YEM: Speaking of Disney, I saw Ratatouille the Musical. What was the experience like doing a virtual show?
Andrew: It’s funny. I have now done, essentially, a Broadway show with all of these legends that I have never had a single conversation with. I have not talked to Titus [Burgess], I am Facebook friends with André De Shields, but I’ve never met these people face to face. I’ve gotten to talk to a handful of them but it’s just kind of bizarre that if I run into Adam Lambert for some reason I can say, “Hey, we were in a musical together. Not sure if you even know.” But yeah, it was awesome. It was such a whirlwind. It was really such a labor of love. It was kind of amazing to see everyone just putting their all into it to get it done in a short amount of time.
YEM: And I’m sure having your YouTube channel and uploading songs is helpful for being able to connect to an audience without necessarily having an audience with you.
Andrew: Yeah, I’ve gotten pretty used to speaking into the void, so it was fun. I’ve sung without a partner, I’ve acted with a screen, but I’ve never acted without a screen/without a partner. It was really just me in my room doing these scenes. I had this little stuffed animal of Remy that I must’ve gotten whenever the movie came out that I would put on the ground sometimes to play the scene with him.
YEM: And now they’re doing the Ratatouille Disney ride, too [in Walt Disney World EPCOT]
Andrew: I’m very excited. I got to do it actually in France a couple of years ago. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to do it. I’m not gonna say the closest I’ll ever get, because hopefully one day I’ll maybe get a little closer, but it’s the closest I’ll have gotten so far to being able to go on a Disney ride and say, “That’s me!”
YEM: You also write original music. Did you get into that around the same time you got into Musical Theater?
Andrew: Kind of, yes. Music really came first to me. I was playing the drums from, I mean, I must’ve been two years old or something- just sort of banging. All my siblings are pretty musical and so I grew up around my sister taking her violin lessons and my brother taking his mandolin lessons. So I very much grew up around music and wanted to be like them. I absolutely fell in love with music and it quickly evolved into writing music.
YEM: And I read that you founded a musical theatre company in middle school?
Andrew: I did, yeah! Zneefrock productions. I was twelve years old. We’re still truckin’. We’re still moving.
YEM: What was the first thing that you did with that company?
Andrew: We did a cabaret and it was really just for my Bar Mitzvah project to raise money for charity. We did a cabaret of whatever anyone wanted to sing and it was supposed to be a one time thing, but then I was onstage doing it and I was like, “I don’t want to stop doing this. I want to do it forever every year.” So then we did a Beatles cabaret and then we did the Star Wars musical that my friend Adrian Dickson and I wrote that we did at 54 Below last year and then we kept going and it got bigger and better every year. It’s the thing in my life that I’m proudest of, definitely.
YEM: And you wrote the Star Wars Musical?
Andrew: We did. We wrote this parody musical in eighth grade and it’s very much what you’d expect two eighth graders to be able to write.
YEM: That’s good that you were able to write it in eighth grade and you were able to perform it last year.
Andrew: We wrote and we staged it in eighth grade and even then we had our final dress rehearsal and Adrian Dickson who wrote it with me came to the rehearsal and I said, “What do you think” and he said, “It’s what we wrote.” We knew it wasn’t the greatest so to then bring it to 54 Below with these incredible professional actors and say, “You know what, do your best,” was really really fun and it was a really fun couple of shows we got to do.
YEM: Is that something you want to continue doing, writing and performing?
Andrew: Definitely. Especially over this pandemic I’ve tuned into my writing even more than I have before, which I was doing a lot before Dear Evan Hansen but now it’s such a huge part of me that I definitely never want to stop doing it.
YEM: Is there anything you’re writing at the moment that you’re excited about?
Andrew: I am writing some music that you will get to hear soon. That’s what I can say. The way I’m framing it right now: I’m working on getting music out. It’s not just me working on it. I’m working with real fancy people to help me make it great and people will get to hear it very, very soon. That’s as much as I’m giving myself the liberty to say.
YEM: You’ve mentioned Dear Evan Hansen. How old were you in your first performance as Evan Hansen?
Andrew: I was sixteen and I started on January 30th, 2019, which was bizarre. I still think about it every day. It was incredible.
YEM: What was that first performance like?
Andrew: Probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my life, but also I think I knew about half the people in the audience. Actually, all the people I had ever done theatre with and who have ever been in my life were there to support me. There’s this moment at the top of the show (if you haven’t seen it) where Evan opens his laptop and this light is on him and I think there must have been just this wave of cheers and applause for what felt like an hour but I think it was probably 30 seconds or something. It’s a feeling I will never ever, ever forget.
YEM: I’m sure [Evan Hansen] was a dream role of yours.
Andrew: Absolutely. It was the dream role of mine. I thought, “Maybe I’ll be able to do it when I’m twenty-six or something.” Never did I think I’d be able to do it when I was sixteen. That seemed entirely impossible, so it was all of my dreams coming to fruition.
YEM: It’s great to see an actual teenager playing a teenage role. You don’t get to see that very often.
Andrew: It was a real gift to get to be a teenager playing a teenage role because I didn’t have to draw from memory and I didn’t have to fabricate something. It was all so fresh to me and every cast I got to work with throughout my year was just incredible and respectful of that.
YEM: Are you still close with the rest of the cast?
Andrew: Absolutely. Alex Boniello, who played Connor with me for my whole year, is my best friend and we talk too much, as well as really everyone else: Gabi Carrubba, who played Zoe with me and Will Roland, who I really didn’t do the show with. I could keep listing people forever but really, yeah, they’re still family to me.
YEM: Were you going to regular high school at that time?
Andrew: I was being tutored in place of high school, but I actually finished everything. I was able to graduate when I finished the show in January of 2020, as opposed to the normal time in May, because I was done with the curriculum, so it was totally the perfect balance for me and all my tutors were really respectful of my limits while also still pushing and challenging me. It was real school. There was no hiding.
YEM: What was the audition process like [for Dear Evan Hansen]?
Andrew: It is one for the history books. I did the Jimmy Awards (The National High School Theatre Awards), which Dear Evan Hansen sponsored and Tara Rubin who is the casting director of Dear Evan Hansen was a judge and Stacey Mindich, the producer, was in the audience. Legend has it that Stacey texted Tara at intermission at the Jimmys and said, “He needs to come in the room, that’s our next Evan.” A couple days later, I got an email asking me to come in and audition for the entire creative team, which are all heroes of mine, so it was bizarre. I quickly found out that my first audition was the equivalent of most people’s final callback and I found out only a few days later that I’d be going into the part, which is insane. I can’t believe they did that. They took such a huge chance on me. I’ll never stop thanking them for it.
YEM: What are some other dream roles of yours?
Andrew: At this point I have lots. I’m a huge Disney nerd, if you can’t tell. I’d love to be in any sort of Disney theatre project. I’m so excited to now be part of High School Musical [The Musical: The Series]. I think specifically, Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame would be awesome, but all that being said, I’m having such a great time starting to get to originate material and be the first person to put my mark on something. I’ve gotten to do that in some readings with a lot of the stuff I’ve been singing like Joey Contreras’ [In Pieces]. Of course I’m not the first person to ever sing that song, but to not have the weight of past performances is such a great feeling and to get to make something my own is the best, so I’d love to continue to originate material.
YEM: Being able to write characters for yourself is so much fun.
Andrew: It’s really, really wonderful and also terrifying, especially with Star Wars. I was playing Han Solo, which was frankly an accident. Somebody dropped out and I had to [play the role] both in 2016 when we did it the first time and at 54 Below. Alex [Boniello] turned to me and said “I love the idea of little eighth grade you writing the hardest song of all time.” It is so difficult. I don’t know why I torture myself like this.