To paraphrase Shakespeare, it is our job as storytellers and actors to “hold a mirror to life." Here's an actor who does just that.

Here’s a couple of things about Brayden Hade: He’s a survivor. And he knows how to balance his acting career with real life. But it’s his awareness, his determination…his pluck, not simply his dramatic arts, that reveal the depth of his performances. Keep reading…you will see what I mean.
 
Equally comfortable with musicals, black comedies, quirky dramas or artsy pieces, the actor has accumulated a sizable repertoire of work on stage over the past decade. Just in talking with him, I would say comedy musicals lead the pack of preferences, mainly due to his passion for singing and flair for light entertainment.

Some of his favorite theatre credits have included sure-fire draws like “Mamma Mia!” “The Last Five Years.” “Company,” “Seussical,” “City of Angels,” and “Titanic.” He was also seen in John Freed’s old-fashioned comedy musical “Sex Anyone” (picking up wonderful reviews and festival acclaim) at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2017.
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As a transplant from New York City, this dapper male star deserves the spotlight for a lot of the right things – his acting talents of course. But there’s also that social media expertise, creative work, self-effacing humor, and general good-guy demeanor. One of the reasons that Brayden’s career has been so fascinatingly diverse is because he is so adaptable and is constantly reinventing himself.
 
As an example, Brayden has not only conceptualized and filmed the video segments for “Comic Monkey,” “The Dreamstalks: When I Grow Up” (2015), “Train Approaching” (2015) and “It Gets Funnier,” but he was also the writer/director/DP for the short films "Coven of Fifth Avenue" and "Made for TV."
 
The adroitly gifted Brayden has also created, written, directed and shot several webseries: "How to Make It To 30.," "Making It," "Rock-star Café (2012)," and "The Adults.” Nick Gauthier from examiner.com says, “Rock Star Café is “a musical comedy internet show that should be on prime-time TV!”
 
A natural-born leader, Brayden has served as creative director for Bruth Media, senior casting director for Ten Thirty One Productions (which you may remember was featured on Shark Tank), and currently is directing the musical, “Avenue Q,” at the Cupcake Theater in their new theatrical playground at the Hollywood Majestic Theater.

He’s also the founder of TheatreSourceLA, an internet source that connects theatres, audiences, and actors in fun ways to help elevate Los Angeles viewership. You can find him on social media at twitter.com/braydenhade, IG: braydenhade, FB: braydenhade. A client of Movement Talent Agency.
This week, Brayden Hade graciously took time to answer a few questions for The Show Report, and, in the process, dropped us a number of surprising revelations. Not to mention some amazing insights in this business we call "acting." This is what he had to say:
Brayden, how did you get started in the arts?

"When I was very young, my parents put me in a lot of different kinds of arts classes—things like tap, pottery, and puppeteering. They sort of flung everything at the wall to see what would stick. Well, unfortunately, I was very willful and pretty much quit everything. That changed when I was in third grade. I had been attending shows at a local theater with my mother. I became rather taken with them. Initially my mother tried to prepare me to audition for them, but she didn’t really have a musical background. Somewhere along the line my third grade teacher (her name was Mrs. Klau) stepped up to help. She would keep me after school and help me prepare my audition several times a week. Years later, when I was adult, I stumbled upon her in a local production. She was actually pretty fantastic. I did book that local theater show and I continued working with that theater from third grade until when I left for college (shoutout to the late Hartford Children’s Theatre.)"

"After high school, I pursued a degree in musical theatre from Wagner college. While in college I took so many visual arts classes that I often joke I was an arts minor. Like when I was a toddler, my focus had always been scattered among many artistic endeavors. Unlike when I was a toddler, I learned there is medication for that."

"After I graduated I invested in professional photography equipment and began taking headshots and event shots to help supplement my income. During my first few years out of college I got a bit disillusioned by the kind of roles I was getting called in for. The musical theatre world still consisted of “ethnic" shows and “white" shows, and aside from maybe “Aladdin,” I was usually the wrong ethnicity. The level of cultural and racial awareness in the musical theatre world was very much behind the rest of the culture. I decided to pursue film: joined professional scene study courses, joined AFTRA, and began doing low budget films, and extra work. I enjoyed that a lot more, but somewhere along the line I realized I would probably enjoy being on the other side of the camera more. I began writing and directing my own short films and series, and really took to it. That expanded to be directing stage projects as well."
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"Writing and directing were my main pursuit for the last five years of my time in NYC. When I moved to Los Angeles, I fell back into musical theater mainly as a way to make friends. The experience I had was much more rewarding than it had been ten years prior so I decided to more actively pursue it. I got an agent (Jim Keith), and began booking more work at the end of 2019. We all know how that story plays out in March of 2020. The setback of the pandemic actually gave me time to get back into writing and directing and brought me back to what I had been working towards for years. That led me here, directing for the stage again, and being happier than ever doing it. I guess a simple “when I was a toddler” probably would have answered your question."

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What are some of your proudest and most exciting accomplishments?

"My friend Barry DeBois and I started a production company back in NYC called Bruth Media. We never really “made it” in a traditional sense, but I really cherish the experience of being able to work on so many different kinds of projects with so many different artists. It really engrained in me that you don’t need a big budget or even a large team to put together a film, or a piece of theatre . You just need a lot of energy, a lot of desire, and a love of doing it. If you can figure that out, then you’ll do great when you do have a nice budget or a support team behind you."

"I’d also say “Avenue Q” is going to be up there in accomplishments I’m excited about. We put this show together in about 3 weeks in a theater that was not even fully built yet. I wasn’t originally the director, and was working on designing props and costumes, organizing the contracts, filing vax cards, creating set pieces, making call sheets, and trying to fill in all the gaps."
"Our remodel at the theatre ended up becoming a lot larger in scale than originally imagined, and unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for me, the final gap I had to fill was that of director. This did not give me a lot of time to plan in advance, but luckily there was plenty of time between midnight and 5 am that I had absolutely nothing scheduled. I used that time wisely, and came up with a lot of solutions and concepts quickly."

"Ultimately I’m really proud of how things have turned out. Even now, the production work has not completely finished. I’ve been designing new backgrounds and videos for the piece…right now while I’m typing this. It was stressful for sure, but Ive never had my hands in so many aspects of a production, so it is incredibly rewarding to see it on stage. This cast, our band, our swings, our lighting designer, our sound technician, our choreographer, our music director, and everyone else who helped out along the way have truly been remarkable to work with and made this truly a labor of love."

 
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What is your most favorite role to date?

"Oddly enough I think it was this role I played in a fringe show called “Sex Anyone.” The show was a really strange concept: a 60s style musical about a sex addict in recovery. I was on stage pretty much the whole time leading all the action. The show pushed emotional triggers I did not want to explore, the book didn’t fully work yet, and I got horrible reviews for it. It put me in a really dark place, but in the last few performances I had a bit of a breakthrough and figured out what I was doing. I stopped fighting it and something raw and vulnerable came out the other end. I learned more about acting from having to sit in something uncomfortable than I have from a lot of shows where I put on a performance that received praise."
 
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

"I’m a socially awkward, hard working, idealistic theatre enthusiast!"
Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Who do you consider to be your greatest creative inspiration and motivator?

"I wouldn’t say there is just one person who motivates me, but there are quite a few people for different reasons. Instead I’ll respond with the two people I choose to YouTube when I’m feeling exceptionally unmotivated: Simon Sinek, and Elizabeth Gilbert. A lot of people know Ms. Gilbert from her book “Eat, Pray, Love.” She muses on creativity inspiration quite a bit. Mr. Sinek, also a well known author, mostly lectures on motivation. Depending on what I need, one of them usually gets me productive again."
 
You just finished a performance back in in October for 5-Star Theatricals with Mamma Mia! where you landed the role of Harry, which resulted in rave reviews. Did that seem to be the turning point for you from the lengthy pandemic curtailment?

"Definitely. I began working on that production in early 2020. We were just about to start tech week when the state went into lockdown. The show was
then postponed until July, then October, then April and finally we returned  
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in September 2021. My other job had closed due to the pandemic and I spent most of that time between our initial postponement and finally opening unemployed and isolated. Closing the show at the end of October was exceptionally hard because we had all, in a way, been together for a very uncertain and scary 18 months. Luckily, since we closed, I have been going non stop working for Cupcake. In the time between closing Mamma Mia and the first week in December, we completely renovated the space and put up three shows (Avenue Q, Topsy-Turvy, and our first #CupcakeCabaret.)  It’s a huge and much needed jolt back into normalcy. I love being back in the theater and working on projects with other humans again. It is nice to have a reason to get up in the morning."
Brayden, your arts training as a whole is quite diverse, from acting, to singing, to writing, directing and producing. And it seems your film resume is about equal to theatre. If you could rank all these artistic endeavors on a list, which one would come out on top and why?

"Honestly, I'd say singing. Writing and directing are things I am much more passionate about, but singing is most likely my edge. Out of all the art forms, it is the easiest for me to translate into a paycheck."
 
What is Theater Source LA, and how are your involved?

"TheaterSourceLA is a theatre blog I had created back in 2017. We featured reviews as well as welcome videos to theaters in the Los Angeles community. We would set up on camera interviews with representatives from various theaters and list the video on our site. We also did a monthly on camera spotlight of local performers. At the height of our activity, we also put together live performances. Our crowning achievement was being commissioned by the Skirball Cultural Center to put together a live tribute performance to commemorate Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. Currently Theater Source LA is a casualty of the pandemic, as are many of the theaters we featured. During lockdown, the energy from Theater Source LA was transferred to “Cafe Leo Bloom,” which was an online virtual cabaret. Our most ambitious video was a rendition of “You Will Be Found,” from Dear Evan Hansen. It featured many local performers from various LA theater groups singing as a chorus virtually from their own homes. TheaterSourceLA will return eventually once the pandemic lulls a bit more." 
 
I heard you might have a flair for photography and design. Do you also produce professional headshots for your peers?
 

"My main form of photography is headshots. I’ve been doing them off and on since 2005. At times being a headshot photographer is my main source of income, at times it is a side hustle, and sometimes I just take referral appointments. Currently I’m mostly taking referrals and requests from peers.
Instagram: @braydenhadephotography."

 
Presently you are directing the three-time Tony Award-winning musical, “Avenue Q,” at the very popular Cupcake Theater in LA, where you have done a number of performances in the past. How is this production bringing something new and unique?

"There are a few unique elements to this production. The first, and most obvious one, is that The Hollywood Majestic, the home of the Cupcake Theater, has installed three giant led panels. Visually this is a huge departure from what we’ve done in the past. Instead of having a static set, we have a backdrop that is consistently moving. They give us the ability to pan, zoom, fade, transition, play video footage, and quickly change what the audience sees. This allows us to do things like visualize fantasies, change the set on the beat of a song, or alter the set's colors in a moment to change the mood. I’m still constantly making changes to the visual layout as I learn more about the capabilities of these new features. Currently, we are only operating the main center panel. Once we have all three operational it will give us even more ways to tell our story visually."

"Another aspect that I’m hoping feels fresh is our approach to the material in general. Despite it being a “dirty puppet show,” I wanted to really focus on the stakes and circumstances the characters are dealing with. I  know there are a lot of people in the theater community who feel that Avenue Q has not aged well due to it’s admittedly non-PC nature. I disagree. I think the conversations the show begins are actually more necessary right now than they were at the time of its initial release. I think the story of a man who believes himself to be deeply altruistic, and wants to change the world, but learns through his personal biases, vices, and moral failings that he is a complicated unsatisfied human being, and that is ok because so is everyone else, is an especially poignant story line in today’s hyper-partisan climate." 

 
How does it feel to be back with live theater again, and will you be continuing as an affiliate director now at Cupcake for future performances?

"It feels great to be back. Im cautiously optimistic about the ability of live theatre to remain open, but I do now look at every performance and every time we are able to gather as a team, or do anything in front of a live audience as a gift. No matter what happens in the future, I think this will be a permanent realigning of my gratitude towards theatre. As far as returning as a director, there is no current plan, but I would enthusiastically love to direct future productions at the Cupcake." 
 
What would you say to the budding actors and artists out there attempting to make it in the business?

"Ignore the voices out there that would discourage you and say that this life is hard. Everything in life worth doing is difficult. Instead, make sure this is what you want. Putting energy into something you don’t truly want to do will result in anger and disappointment no matter what it is. Assess your personal situation. If being at financial odds with being an artist is going to cause your quality of life to diminish to a point that is unbearable deal with the money aspect. Do not ignore it and hope it will take care of itself. Trying to create or audition if you’re running on constant fear and stress will cause depression and set you back from achieving your goals. Have goals. Like anything, having no plan whatsoever will usually lead to failure. Having things you want to achieve, no matter how small, will help to keep you excited and positive about your career. Do not compare yourself to your peers. Success is going to manifest itself differently for everyone. If you wake up excited to do what you’re doing, and can support yourself along the way, you’ve succeeded at what you set out to do. Ambition is a key collaborator along the way, but it can also turn into an enemy if it begins to sow unbearable doubt. You need to check in with yourself and find gratitude in your accompaniments."
 
If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?

"My two favorite musicals are “Into The Woods,” and “Cabaret.” At some point in my career I’d like to work on them. They are definitely not on the horizon right now, but those two are the ones I want to direct one day. Personally, I’d like to see Cupcake do something really upbeat as their next show. We’re still dealing with this pandemic, and I think audiences want to continue to escape and laugh. I think "Q" is so timely right now because, while it is hilarious, one of the strongest themes in the piece is uncertainty. I think people can relate pretty easily. I’d love to see something like a “Legally Blond,” “The Producers,” 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Spamalot,” anything in that world. All those shows are hilarious, and many of them have underlying themes that can be uplifting in these uncertain times. But when it comes down to it, I won’t know what’s next until you all know, and I’m sure whatever it is it will be a lot of fun!"
 
How would you rate your satisfaction level at this stage of your career?

"I’m satisfied. I’m able to have an artistic life free of debt and can continue to pay my bills without having to compromise my life too much. I am grateful for that. Ultimately I am ambitious and want to do a lot more in the future and create a lot of new opportunities. It’s one step at a time, but I’m not unhappy with the current step." 
 
And finally, we’ve discussed some remarkable talents you possess. But what’s something else you are really good at that few people know about?

"I really enjoy cooking for people. I don't know that I’m exceptionally talented at it, but I do enjoy it."

Thank you Brayden Hade! "Avenue Q" begins performances this Friday, January 7th, and continues through February 13th. For ticket information, please visit:
https://www.hollywoodmajestic.com/events-and-tickets

 
Sandy Bainum, Brayden Hade, Kim Huber, Eric Martsolf, Lisa Dyson and Christopher Robert Sm
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With Chris Daniels — January 5, 2022
The "Artist Spotlight" is a continuing interview series highlighting entertainment professionals, working actors, singers, stage managers, producers, directors, designers and others in the arts and entertainment industry. This segment features the incredible Brayden Hade in THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR, hitting the mark for a new level of success, and giving us an inside look at making it as an actor—the hard way. 
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