Making Broadway: Andrew Samonsky in South Pacific

An orchestra tuning its instruments before a musical is like the blossoming of roses; resilient. It starts out dull and closed off to its spectators, but with harmony guiding its movements, its different parts move outward and expand. It twists, dives and curls around in what at first does not appear able to create beauty. But in the end, it always does, fine-tuning its most appealing features in a cluster of rhythmic motion, finally settling into a state of calm. The difference between the blossoming of an orchestra and that of a rose is what comes next.

Andrew Samonsky is no stranger to the sound of an orchestra tuning before a show and is now no stranger to things blossoming in his life. Samonsky has been tuning his skills on stage with the hope that his musical theater career will continue to grow for years to come. For Samonsky, who waited five years before landing his first gig on Broadway, it has been a journey well-spent. His young career as an actor out of the UC Irvine graduate drama program has contained numerous twists, dives and curls, yet continues to evolve. Samonsky now performs among the elite on Broadway as a lead in the hit musical revival of “South Pacific.”

Like any lead role, his character is prominent in the show and demanding on stage, but for Samonsky, the demand becomes a part of his craft. He has taken in stride this evolution of success in his career as swiftly and calmly as he did with the lowest moments in his career, but more importantly, Samonsky has taken the time to enjoy it.

After all, it’s the dream of a lifetime.

“You know, everyone’s journey is different. You travel, work and meet people, and I was lucky enough to get the call for ‘South Pacific’ and asked to understudy Matt Morrison for the role of Lt. Cable [while in the ensemble],” Samonsky said of his Broadway debut.

His temperament glows with a gratitude that is slightly unusual for someone on the rise like Samonsky. His gratitude roots itself in his humble path, having spent his undergraduate days in California State University, Northridge’s opera-based vocal program. This meant that his first adventure into a higher level of training involved one of the most technical genres in the performing arts. And at first, this was no problem for Samonsky, who possesses a naturally vibrant voice. However, it was that vibrancy that carried his interests into the drama department at CSUN, where he started taking roles.

From that initial inquiry into the realm of acting, he developed an undeniable affection for the creativity available in musical theater.

“The drama department just took hold of me,” Samonsky said. “The opera world was a little stuffy for me. And I felt like the musical theater world was just a little more loose and exciting.”

The next step for Samonsky was trying his hand in the UCI graduate theater program. Already equipped with an opera-trained voice, Samonsky started to realize that with the acting and overall musical theater training he received at UCI, the highest of level of success appeared attainable.

“My whole objective was to be able to support myself, singing or whatever. I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Samonsky said. “But with every year in school I’d get a little better and it felt like I was getting a little more noticed. I started building more confidence from that and when I’d go see shows on Broadway, I’d start thinking, ‘you know, I think I can do that.’ ”

Sarmonsky, like most talented performers in search of a Broadway break, was essentially in the right place at the right time. The difference, however, remains that his Broadway break landed him in the ensemble and now, less than a year later, he has risen from his background role and taken hold of one of the lead characters, Lt. Joe Cable.

Samonsky attributes this transition to his time at Irvine.

“Acting is such a full-bodied activity. How you use your body, voice and learn about these people from a different time period and how that translates to what it honestly is for you, all of which I learned how to do at Irvine.” Samonsky explained. “I grew so much as a person and an artist there. Some schools can feel very competitive, but Irvine was very nurturing. I just had a lot of opportunity to be creative while getting amazing training.”

That training is one of the key reasons he is now a leading man in one of Broadway’s biggest hits of the season. He ascended to that role in this show, yet the question still remains: What next? Unlike many artists, he is not struggling with uncertainty in his future. For Samonsky, this time in his career is something to just simply enjoy.