From a young age, Gerard Canonico knew he wanted to be in front of a camera. Theater wasn’t on his radar, but then he was cast in Les Misérables and made his Broadway debut at only ten years old. Since then, Gerard has had a busy career in shows like Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Groundhog Day. He is currently playing Rich in Be More Chill and is starring in the movie musical, Stuck.
When did you first become interested in theater and decide to pursue it as a career?
When I was 7 years old I noticed a friend of mine was in an ad for the Gap or Old Navy or something. And I thought to myself “huh, I could do that”. So my mom arranged meetings with managers and we found one who started sending me out for auditions. First for print and then for commercials. Within 4 weeks I booked my first national network commercial for Burger King. I turned 8 on that shoot. Then my manager sent me out for the tour of Les Misérables. I had never auditioned for musicals or sung professionally, so it was a bit scary for my parents. I, however, was fearless and I believe I sang “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” for my first audition. They called me back and gave me specific Gavroche material. It went well. Six months later I got a phone call saying they didn’t want me on the tour but instead, I was going to replace the current actor on Broadway and make my Broadway debut with Les Misérables in the summer of 1999. Needless to say, I was hooked and I haven’t stopped performing in theater since!
Are there any shows that have had a big impact on you?
The shows that started my obsession with the type of musical theater I pursue would be Footloose and Rent. They showed me that you don’t have to stick to convention in order to make good musical theater. You can rock belt in a musical!!! It sort of changed my perspective on what was “allowed”.
You list Groundhog Day as your favorite credit, what was it about that show that made it so special to you?
Groundhog Day was quite the experience! When I say “favorite” it’s because I can’t put all my credits for certain categories in my bio or it’ll be hundreds of words long. It’s up there as one of the greatest shows I’ve ever been in. The experience backstage was the polar opposite of the experience onstage. It was kind of brutal backstage and the creative team was very hard on us. We were all character actors, however we were being treated like principal dancers. Very different ways of working. My all time favorite Broadway show that I’ve gotten to do night after night was American Idiot. I never got tired of doing that show. It was like a rocket exploded from start to finish and you’re either on the ride or you’ll fall off. It was thrilling.
Stuck is a very different kind of movie musical, can you tell us more about it?