By Bradley Kishiyama
Much sacrifice was needed to win the “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” but, in the end, Nicholas Garland said that it was all worth it. Garland, a junior, gave up going to two school dances (which he helped plan), another role in a different musical, and all of his free time to be in the musical “She Loves Me” at SF Playhouse. He played the character Arpad, a witty, hardworking delivery boy, for 8 consecutive weeks — 52 shows from mid November to mid January. And then in a shocking surprise, he was nominated by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle for 2016’s “Best Featured Actor in a Musical”.
This was Garland’s first job at an equity theater, which means he is one step closer to joining the union (the Actor’s Equity Association), an essential step to going pro, which will provide him with benefits, as well. “It was his first professional play and it was in San Francisco,” Evan Tung, a friend of Garland’s said. “You could tell that [Garland’s] level of excitement was high from just talking to him about it.”
When he won the award on March 27th, Garland said, “I was really surprised. I wasn’t expecting to win given that I was up against four other professional actors that are all part of the union and have won awards like this plenty of times. I kind of just sat there in shock for a little bit. My heart was racing.” Garland later said, “During intermission [at the award ceremony, after winning] I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I wasn’t expecting it,’ and then my dad was like, ‘Yeah me neither.’…Even this reviewer that was campaigning for me didn’t really expect me to win.”
Garland got his start acting at Hillbarn Theatre, a community theater in Foster City. He’s done many musicals there, including his latest, “The Boyfriend”. In addition to performing, Garland has learned how to manage the tech side of theater, such as lights and sound and has even produced his own show, “One Day on Broadway”. Even after winning a prestigious award in a major metropolitan city, Garland continues to contribute to Hillbarn. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s a community theater or an equity house…it’s all a great experience…Hillbarn will always be my home, that’s where I got all of my training, that’s where I did my first shows,” said Garland.
According to Garland, Hillbarn played a big role in guiding Garland toward an audition for “She Loves Me”. Monique Hafen, the casting director and leading actress in the show chose Garland because of his enthusiasm. “In the world of theater, ‘luck’ is when opportunity meets preparation…What I saw in Nicholas then was a young man with talent who worked hard everyday to better his craft and understanding of his art.” The show needed a 15-year old that could sing, dance, and embody an eager young man willing to work hard to advance. It seemed to Hafen an opportunity made for Garland. Director, Susi Damilano, said, “Nicholas won the award because he was terrific in the role and won the hearts of the critics. There are not many young actors who can perform side by side with experienced adults and seem just as experienced.”
After such a major accomplishment people are wondering what Garland will do next.