I interviewed Sean Grandillo, an actor, singer and musician, best known for his role as the Voice of Otto in the 2015 Broadway revival of Spring Awakening and as Eli Hudson in MTV’s horror series Scream.
Who has been your inspiration through all this acting?
Michael Arden was a huge inspiration to me at first, weirdly. He would be one of the people I would YouTube in my early theater days. You know how we are on YouTube, watching performances at 54 Below or this guy and that. Michael always impressed me because he was such an actor while he was singing. So Michael is. I would say all of the deaf actors really inspire me because it’s one of those things — like think about how hard it is for any actor to get a job, and then a deaf actor. But they do it and they are grinding and they are passionate and they are positive and I — I don’t know. I — I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to get started because it was such a good way to not get any false ideas about this thing or not be obsessive with the business or any flashy side of it. It was like “no, this stuff can really matter.” Our show [Spring Awakening] really mattered and I am so grateful for that. And they all do, but ours in a special way.
I was like wow, this show is going to be awesome. The first lottery I tried and I didn’t win, and second one I came and I won. I was so excited to see it.
Cool. I had that moment when we were rehearsing the first production in a church, where they literally pushed us out of our rehearsals at the end every time for an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. We were really throwing this thing together. And the first time Sandy stood up (I think it was at a table read) and signed “Whispering” while Katie sang it, we were all sort of — you know, it’s not like we thought we were going to Broadway in that moment, but I was like this is really one of the most incredible things I have ever seen happen. It was beyond theater at that point. I was like this girl who cannot hear is communicating with all — it was incredible. I had never met a deaf person at that point so I was–
Yes. It was very scary. I moved to LA, didn’t have any friends, and I went to rehearsal, and half of the friends that I could be making could not hear and I didn’t know how to sign. So I felt very — I am pretty good at making friends, but that is a hurdle I never made before, so it was incredible to get to know people in a entirely different way, and then learn that they are really exactly the same, which is like “duh”, but it’s — I don’t know. It’s good that I learned that. It made me really open and excited about meeting all sorts of different people from different places, and I want to travel and meet more.
Would you do a touring cast of the show?
So they have announced a tour. They have like teased out little things. They have not contacted any of the actors about doing it or offers.
Or maybe different ones?
Right, and some people may not be available and all sorts of things go into that. I always joke like I have information. No one has any information, but I hope it happens regardless of if I am involved or not, because like you said, it’s so special. Imagine kids everywhere getting to see that.
Right. I was so annoyed that it didn’t get nominated for choreography because I think the movement in that whole show is like no other.
I really wish Spencer had gotten a nomination too. You know, Spencer . . . I have no doubt Spencer will be a multiple Tony award winner because he is so — not that that’s the thing that matters.
Spring Awakening is visually stunning.
Yes, and Spencer’s growth throughout the thing, I don’t believe he had worked with deaf performers either, and at the beginning you can tell he is coming from So You Think You Can Dance where he tells professional dancers do this and they do it. Whereas in this process, there were people who could not hear, didn’t speak his language literally or figuratively, and to see him go from the first production to Broadway and just master the art of this choreography with sign and communicating with deaf actors, it was — everyone grew that way and it was really humbling and awesome.