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Former ASU Student Dropped Out for Life of Broadway, Returns to Gammage in ‘American Idiot’

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 13:04

American Idiot

Courtesy ASU Gammage

Front from left, Leslie McDonel, Gabrielle McClinton (Whatsername) and Krystina Alabado. Back from left, Talia Aaron, Nicci Claspell and Jillian Mueller in “American Idiot.”

Two semesters is all it took for one former Arizona State University student to jumpstart her dream job as an actress on Broadway.

Krystina Alabado was a theatre major for one year when she was cast in 2008 in the first national tour of the Tony award-winning “Spring Awakening.” She left ASU to perform in the two-year tour and moved to New York after it ended.

Alabado landed her latest role last year in the Broadway adaptation of “American Idiot,” a musical based on Green Day’s album of the same name. The show tells the story of three lifelong friends forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia on their quest for true meaning in a post 9/11 world. Alabado was in the ensemble and was an understudy to the two main female characters.

This December, Alabado headed out on the road with the first national tour of “American Idiot,” reprising the role she played on Broadway. She took time from rehearsing to talk with College Times about leaving school, life on Broadway and returning to Gammage with “American Idiot.”

College Times:  So, you used to be an ASU student?

Krystina Alabado:  I went for two semesters. I booked a first national tour of “Spring Awakening” in the middle of that second semester so I left.

Were you hesitant to leave school?

No, not at all, actually. It’s different with this career versus a business career or something. You don’t need a degree to get considered for things. It was my end goal to get a job like that, so it was a no-brainer. It was scary, though, to be that age and to just make a decision like that and throw caution to the wind, but it really paid off for me.

Did your family approve?

My parents, they’ve always known that this is what I wanted, and they knew that in music and theater that it’s not about a degree, it’s about learning and always growing. They flew me out to Boston to audition for “Spring Awakening.”

How was your “Spring Awakening” experience?

The whole experience of “Spring Awakening” was life-changing. I feel like it was my college experience because I was so young. I learned so much over those two years. 

How has “American Idiot” been?

It’s really incredible. I think that everyone can take a little something from it. Everybody can relate to having ups and downs and not knowing what they want in life and being confused.

Do you relate to that?

I feel like I’ve been pretty focused. I’ve gone back and forth about being in New York or LA. But, I never have thought, “Should I be back in school or should I be back in Arizona?” I haven’t really doubted that since I started.

What is your daily schedule?

Being an understudy, we have rehearsal where all the understudies get together and rehearse the roles we’d get to play. We do eight shows a week, Tuesday through Sunday. We have our days pretty much free, which has been really nice because you get to explore all the new cities. 

How has working with the cast been?

We have a really nice vibe here in this company and on the tour. We all go to work at the same time, we all are at the same hotel, we see each other all day and all night and so the fact that we have really great relationships is so amazing. You can feel it onstage, when people get along and when people really do love each other.

Are you excited to be coming back to Gammage?

I can’t wait! My whole family lives [in Arizona] and all my teachers – I went to Dobson High School and Hamilton High School. I love going back and seeing everybody, and I’m really excited to bring the show to Arizona. 

What has been the best experience thus far in your career?

One of the most fantastic experiences was definitely that first show that I had on Broadway because it was with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day. He was playing the role of St. Jimmy. It was kind of the coolest possible way to have my Broadway debut. 

What has been the most difficult part of the business?

Unlike other careers, this one is very up and down. You’ll do a show for a bit and then you’ll be unemployed until you get your next job. You’ll go to, let’s say, 100 auditions in New York and you’ll get all nos. You have to be able to know that it’s not necessarily personal. 

What keeps you going?

You have to keep pushing through it and know that something will happen for you as long as you work hard. I continue to take acting classes in New York and singing lessons, because even though I left school it doesn’t mean that I learned everything. I know that I have so much more to learn and so much more to grow, and I’ll continue that until I am 80 years old. I’ll never stop learning.

“American Idiot,” ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, 480.965.3434, Tuesday, April 24, through Sunday, April 29, times vary, $28-$100

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