The Proof Is In Our People
Why Russell Chose Rider’s Westminster Choir College
Bitten by the theater bug at age three after seeing The Sound of Music, Russell came to campus as an experienced young performer with plans of building the skills set and stamina for continuing a career on stage. “Many of my teachers in high school attended Rider and Westminster Choir College, including my choral director and voice teacher,” says Russell. “As a student in the Governor’s School of the Arts, I met Miriam Mills from Rider’s theatre faculty. The qualities of these educators all influenced my decision to attend Rider.”
Rider's Impact on Russell's Career
“I was performing with Westminster at the Spoleto Festival when the auditions for Jersey Boys were held, so I submitted my résumé and head shot with nothing to lose and much to gain,” recalls Russell. “I was called in for an audition, though — and three months after graduating, I learned I was cast on Broadway.”
Russell is now in his fifth season with Jersey Boys as “Joey” and an understudy for the role Frankie Valli.
“I knew that if I wanted a long-term career as a performer, I needed to learn how to protect and use my voice properly. That’s something Westminster excels at doing for its students,” notes Russell. “They really understand the physical and musical demands placed upon music theatre professionals. I realized the skills of good musicianship are the standard for those who wish to be considered seriously in this competitive industry. The goal is to seize every opportunity to work on yourself and what makes you an artist. At Rider, I was constantly reminded of how joyful and gratifying the creative process is.”
This summer, Russell will be making a return appearance at Rider as the featured guest artist for Westminster’s popular High School Music Theatre Program, which draws talented aspiring young actors nationwide to campus.
From Commencement to Broadway
Three months after graduating from Rider, on his 22nd birthday, Russell learned he was cast in Jersey Boys.
In additional to his work on Broadway, Russell’s theatre experience includes the American debut of Monkey: Journey to the West (Spoleto Festival, Charleston, S.C.), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Plays In The Park), The Music Man (Chautauqua Opera), Children of Eden (Paper Mill Playhouse) and The Sound of Music (Palace Theatre, S.C.). He also performed in the second national touring company of Big.