Be There When Lightning Strikes

Life

Set your text size: A A A

HHS graduate on world tour with theater hit

Turner Rouse Jr. is on tour with Green Day's 'American Idiot' Turner Rouse Jr. is on tour with Green Day's 'American Idiot'

Turner Rouse Jr. had to learn patience at the young age of 22.

After an audition during his senior year at Elon University last spring, he had gotten a callback to audition in New York for "American Idiot," the Tony award winning Broadway hit based on Green Day's Grammy-winning album of the same name.
"They sent us snippets, which is music, and sides, which is just a sheet of dialogue," he said.
As he finished his short piece of music, he caught a glimpse of the casting director glancing at a colleague, as if approving. "I just remember that feeling that they liked it," Rouse said. Yet that hopeful sign was just the beginning.
"And then they called me back a second time, and I went back to New York — and thank God for my grandma (Jane Rouse Waddell), for her paying for me to go up there, otherwise I wouldn't be where I am now."
He made the cut again, but still had to wait. He tried out for other shows and worked to arrange a sublet in New York City to keep on auditioning. He was back home when he got a call to come for final callback.
"They asked me to learn a song while I was there, so I went out, for 20 minutes," he said. A friend helped him learn it. "I went in, did the sides and everything, and came out." He felt good about it but again weeks passed. He called the casting director once to check. "She told me I was still on the table and I figured, oh, they're just trying to be nice."
One afternoon in late June, out mowing grass with his dad at their home in Flat Rock, he got a call. "They said we wanted to see if you want to join us for the national and international tour."

He was on his way. In fact, he's already overseas with the show, which in mid-October launched a frenzied pace of eight shows in Britain and 29 cities in the U.S. The question was whether he'd ever be on stage. As one of three "swings," he backs up seven different roles in the ensemble.
"At any moment I could go on," he said. "The whole thing is, it's not the choreography and the movement and the dancing and learning the vocal parts, that's one thing. But it's the traffic patterns, because this show in particular, people are practically punching each other and you have to know when to be hit, it's almost like stage combat.
"If I'm doing the wrong thing I could easily knock somebody out or hurt somebody or hurt myself. So I have to really know every inch of every movement, what's locking into place. There's a bed and a couch that moves and locks into place and a staircase."
Through eight preview shows in five U.S. cities, he never got the call to back up one of the dancers. But on opening night in Southampton, England, the actor that he understudied had to sit out, and Rouse suddenly had a role with a featured song.
"The guy who played 'Rock'n'roll Boyfriend' was hurt, and he had to go on," said his mother, Debbie Rouse. "He told my mother today he loves it so much he just wants to pinch himself. He loves this cast."

In an interview with the Hendersonville Lightning before he left for England, Rouse talked about the auditioning process, his preparation at Elon and his background at the Flat Rock Playhouse.
"I'm loving every minute of it," he said. "It can be frustrating knowing all the parts and not going on but overall it's a completely rewarding experience and awesome."
The cast is made up of 20 actors plus three swings, two males and one female.
"The longest we have off is one day," he said. "The thing with the show is it's so physical and vocally demanding, people are jumping and kicking. At some point something's going to happen. At some point somebody's going to be tired or vocally they're not going to be able to go on. I'll have my chance and not worry about that."
During rehearsals in New York, to learn the dance moves and music, "I was really on the side, shadowing, doing the actual actions of the show," he said. During the first tech rehearsal, he went on for the actor who sings the opening line of the show.
The international tour is non-Equity (not-union) and the cast is not eligible to earn equity points for it. But the experience, contacts and travel make it worth it. He's under contract to do the international and American tour through next June. There's talk about an Asian tour to follow, and Rouse figures he might have a shot at a fulltime role in the ensemble or in a featured roles.
"It's too soon to even talk about it. If you do a good job, why would they not hire you?" he said.
Rouse has made himself known in another way too. A photographer, he took some of the cast photos for the show, and assembled a book for Michael Mayer, the Tony award-winning director of "American Idiot." Mayer liked it so much he asked Rouse to make 40 more books.
When he's not called on to go on stage, he watches the show, usually from audience seats.
"I have to be physically and vocally warm with everyone else," he said. "In all but two or three, I've been in the audience. I have my phone."
"The thing is, I can't stress out about it, every night — am I going to go on, am I going to go on? That will just create bad energy. I'm ready but at the same time I'm not going to stress out about it."
Before he left for England, he stayed in shape and practiced.
"While I've been home, I've been running it in the backyard. I know it but I've never physically done the whole show. I love it but it's hard. Every day I have to run and work out."
The most demanding sequence, he said, is a "where we're doing a hard dance and oohing and singing and at the end we're doing this head banging thing."
He'll travel to major cities in the British Isles— Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester and London — and in the U.S. (including Charlotte and Knoxville).
The musical features the hits "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Wake Me Up When September Ends," "Holiday" and Green Day's 2004 blockbuster title track "American Idiot."
Rouse appreciates the training he got at the Flat Rock Playhouse from Lisa K. Bryant, Betsy Bisson, Ginger Poole, Justin Patterson and the late Robin Farquhar, and from Hendersonville High School drama teacher Todd Weakly. (Rouse played Cosmo Brown in "Singing in the Rain," the 2008 senior play.)
"I'm grateful for that experience," he said, "and happy that I was fortunate enough to grow up here and have the support of the community."

American Idiot is playing in the following cities:

Southampton, England
Cardiff, Wales
Edinburgh, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland
Dublin, Ireland
Manchester, England
Birmingham, England
London, England
Norfolk, VA
New Brunswick, NJ
Worcester, MA
Schenectady, NY
Providence, RI
Philadelphia, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Hartford, CT
Nashville, TN
Charlotte, NC (March 8-10, Belk Theater)
Dayton, OH
Hershey, PA
Columbus, OH
Kalamazoo, MI
Cedar Falls, IA
Lincoln, NE
Indianapolis, IN
East Lansing, MI
Peoria, IL
Fayetteville, AR
Knoxville, TN 
(April 30-May 1, Tennessee Theatre)
New Haven, CT
Baltimore, MD
Jacksonville, FL
Fort Myers, FL
Tampa, FL
San Diego, CA
San Jose, CA
Las Vegas, NV