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Fit for Broadway - Nik Walker

September 8, 2014
By Jane Jourdan
Courtesy of fitforbroadway.com

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Nik is such a goofball and a whole lot of fun! It’s obvious from his photos that he doesn’t take himself too seriously which is the perfect approach to this industry and maintaining a positive sense of self. His awesome advice is a steady balance between understanding what he needs to do but having a whole lot of fun along the way, which makes Nik FIT FOR BROADWAY!


BIOGRAPHY: Sup! Nik Walker here, I’m an actor, poet, fanboy and the current Marvin Gaye understudy in Motown the Musical on the Bway! Now don’t get it twisted NYC, I’m a Masshole till the end, born and raised in Boston. Before this gig I was Captain Scott in Peter and the Starcatcher at New World Stages; I’ve also worked at the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and Centerstage in Baltimore. I’m also a playwright, my original rock fantasy, Whiskeyland! is having its first concert at The Cutting Room on Sept 15th (follow us on Twitter,@WhiskeylandShow). Nothing makes me happier than a good Tarantino flick and brunch with my lovely fiance, Sarah!

The performers will be equally as diverse, featuring Christine Dwyer (Wicked) as the bartender Marianne, Eric Anderson (Soul Doctor, The Last Ship) as her brother, the alcoholic rockstar Juno, Adam Hose (Finding Nemo the Musical) as the angel Kid Kaymin, and Walker himself as the psychotic trickster, The Jester.

Currently Fit for Motown!

INTERVIEW:

Q: How would you describe your fitness routine?

A: My fitness routine- I force myself to work out at least 3-4 times a week; I’m the type that will look for excuses not to do it, so it’s more realistic that I push myself into a couple of super intense workouts here and there than try to commit to a solid workout every day. Insanity by Shaun T is great for that, cuz they cover toning AND cardio, and you’ll be in a flop sweat within the first 10 minutes. So I try to do 2 or 3 of those tapes a week, then a day of arms using my resistance bands, then if I’m really feeling it, a day of abs or legs.

Q: Does your current role affect how you train physically and how you prepare your body for the show?

A: My current role definitely effects how I train. I’m a tall guy, and all the guys I play- especially Marvin- were tall and lean. So I’m not trying to go Hulk-o-mania, just maintain tone and keep the love handles and tummy down (a constant battle.)

Q: How do you keep your voice healthy?

A: Voice health is similar to body. I learned to sing from fronting rock bands and listening to the Jacksons, Freddie Mercury, The Rolling Stones, so in a lot of ways, this kind of soul singing is what I’m made to do. I think the key is listening to myself, feeling it out, not over extending myself…there’s a lot of freedom within the songs to do some real pyrotechnics, but if I’m on the Sunday evening show of an 8 show week, maybe I won’t go for that high A. I’m not giving the audience my B show, I’m protecting myself- it’s still my best, just a safer, more comfortable best for where I’m at in that moment.

Q: How does this show challenge your voice and how do you maintain your voice every week for Motown?

A: To maintain the voice- a TON of tea. Sarah works at Alice’s Tea Cup, so I have a leg-up in that game. I find that herbal teas really help, especially those with ginger or peppermint. I also steam often and rinse out with saline solution, Neti-pot that ish if I feel a tickle or dryness. However, I trust my training…I know a lot of singers who will freak out at the littlest sign of illness, and it’s very hard for me not to do that too, but if you know yourself, if you sing from a healthy place and don’t try to push past the comfort zone all the time, you’ll be fine. It’s a muscle, like any other, and you don’t want your care of it to hinder your life…I mean c’mon, you don’t worry about breaking your foot every time you step outside, do you?

Q: Do you follow a specific diet?

A: I try to follow a specific diet…”try” being the operative word. Sarah and I have done a tone of research into GMOs and chemically enhanced foods. We pretty much only shop at Trader Joe’s, and triple check all the foods we buy for additives. I’m generally doing cereal or egg whites and turkey bacon for breakfast, some sort of meat and vegetable for lunch/dinner, and I have to force myself to stay away from cookies, candies, cereals right before bed and caramel covered popcorn…again, a constant battle. Sarah makes this delicious morning drink that we call “bobo”, named after the awesome drink that Peter and the Lost Boys drink in Hook. It’s coconut water, kale, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, rasberries and pineapple blended up into a smoothie, and it’s a great and healthy day-starter/sweet substitute. I think everyone should be allowed a cheat day though- my cheat day, I’ll either do french toast or a breakfast sandwich from this awesome pub in Astoria called Snowdonia, literally 2 blocks from our apartment, or I’ll order myself a medium pepperoni pie from Vidali’s and eat it over two days. Mostly though, I’m a firm believer in moderation; not calorie counting, but calorie awareness. Know what you’re putting in your body, try not to put a lot of bad stuff in there, and if you do, be prepared to buy those calories back with a good workout.

Q: How do your relationships inside and outside the theatre effect your work? (healthy relationships are key to your well-being!) -J.

A: Relationships are the reason I got into theater. I’ve met some of my best friends doing this stuff; not that the point is making friends, but if you’re not having fun and meeting new people, then you’re missing a HUGE part of it. On the same token, I think it’s SO important for those of us in this career to have friends or a life that has NOTHING to do with the theater world. My biggest pet peeve are theater artists who aren’t aware of anything besides the stage or themselves. There are parks, museums, sports, philosophies…there are wars, and poverty and slavery. The best friends are the ones who will keep you grounded in realities outside of your own, that will love you for who you are, but keep you aware of what’s out there.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: There are several people that inspire me. Top of the list- my mother, Liz Walker. Grew up in Jim Crow Arkansas, fought her way out to become the first black female news anchor in New England, left that very lucrative job after 25 years to go to Harvard Divinity school and become a minister, now runs her own church, Roxbury Presbyterian back in Boston. She is the definition of following your heart and I will always admire her for it. I’m a massive Mark Twain fan- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the first book I ever read, and it stays an influence to this day. I’m also inspired by films, most of my writing work has been about finding a way to throw film tropes on the stage. Tarantino is my ultimate, right up there with Spielberg, Nolan and Scorsese. I’m moved by directors who tell epic stories in their own way, I love looking at a film and knowing who directed it by a stylistic choice, lighting or camera set-up. I also love violence on film, and all those dudes are masters at it.

Q: Tips on finding the time to stay physically/vocally fit?

A: As I said, finding the time to stay fit is a challenge, ESPECIALLY for me. I think the key is doing it for yourself, not to book a job or a hit a deadline, but to feel good and confident in who you are and what you do. My favorite quote is from Hamlet, said by Polonius- “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” It applies all over life, but definitely here- if you do it in your way, on no one’s schedule but your own, then it’s not about finding the time as much as it is doing something that’s true to you. You’ll go hard when you do it, and you’ll forgive yourself when you a miss a day, and in a lot of ways, the forgiveness is more important than the workout. If you’re looking to change your body, you’ve got to believe you can, and accept that you’re going to mess up from time to time…as long as you know that, you’ll be unstoppable.

Q: What has been one of your biggest challenges on Broadway or leading up to your career on Broadway?

A: That advice carries over to the biggest challenge for my Broadway career…dance. I’m not a dancer- never have been, never wanted to be, and Motown is a big movement show. I bombed my dance audition, but they needed someone who could sing high, so they cast me with the understanding that they’d put me in a dance boot camp with the assistant choreographer Brian. He tore me a new one, and I tripped over myself a ton, and there were SO many times when I thought I’d never get it. But then one day, when I was crying in the corner, he told me “Look, we’re not gonna turn you into a prima ballerina, that’s not you. We’re trying to find the way YOUR body moves. Don’t try to hit my marks, just take what I’m giving you and own it for yourself, and I promise you, this’ll click.” And the moment I let go of the how-it-was-supposed-to-look, I swear…now I’m doing these moves 8 times a week, smooth, slick moves that I never saw my lanky ass doing in a million years. And it’s all because I trusted that I had it in me.

Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?

A: To those aspiring to be on Broadway- don’t! Kidding, do aspire and work your ass off. Do your homework- remember that it’s 10% show and 90% business, see the shows, meet the community, reach out to the casting directors and agents. I hate to say this, but know your “type”, how you’re going to be seen when you walk into a room, and know what current shows are appropriate for that. Take a dance class, don’t rely solely on your amazing vocals or spicy persona, be as well rounded as possible. Also, don’t wait- make your own work. Rent a space downtown and put on a show that you can invite people too. Make noise so people notice. Remember that “the big break” is a simple endurance game- how long can you stand the heat? If you keep hitting it, something will crack, so keep in it, and don’t let anyone tear you from it.

At the same time- and this is SO important- don’t get too set on the destination, like “Broadway or bust”. If you’re an artist, you’re an artist, Broadway or no. I swear, it may seem like this really uber important thing, and again, I will not deny that it is a wonderful, magical, financially stable place to work, but it’s 10 blocks in one city on one planet in a universe of millions of planets and galaxies. So try to enjoy the ride. Don’t let a couple of slammed doors take your joy, because if you have that, you are one of the lucky few in this world, and you need to protect it with everything you got.

Nik’s seriously hilarious rebuttal to Ciara’s splits on the bridge. haha! – J.

Current Video
Got to sing the National Anthem at the first Knick's game of 2015 with my Motown alum Moeisha McGill, check it out! Watch the Video >

Knick's National Anthem