Actor and arts educator, Tim Dolan is a collector of stories. In his Broadway Up Close tours, he shares his love of theater by revealing the fascinating history of famous Broadway venues. His tours have been crafted to incorporate a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to work on Broadway, as well as sharing some of the juicy scandals he has uncovered. His latest venture is the new “Hamiltour” in which tour-goers visit historical sites and are told never-before-heard stories and secrets from the creation of the musical.
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Serena: How did you get interested in theater?
Tim: My first exposure to theater was in second grade when we went to the high school to see a production of Oliver! and I just remember looking at all the little kids on the stage and being like, “wait, what is this and how did they do this?” I started acting as a hobby in school and then I realized you could do it as a job and people would pay you money hopefully. So I got a voice teacher in 11th grade and I got into a college in New York City called AMDA. It’s a two‑year conservatory and they gave me a little money and that got me to New York instantly. That was ten days after I finished high school in June 2003. I was 18 years old, my parents dropped me off. They pulled away in a cab, just like crying in the backseat, dropping their son from Detroit, Michigan off in New York City.
My first job out of college, I was a cruise ship singer on Norwegian Cruise Line. I mean, spending warm weather in pleather pants on a ship is not what you always dream of, but in the moment it was pretty cool. Great money. Good food. Really good first experience. I was on there for six months. You never get used to dancing and doing shows on a rocking ship. Or even a quick change backstage – if the ship takes a turn as you are standing on one leg putting on a pant leg… not what they train you for in college. After that, I did a tour of the old creaky musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes all around the country for about six months. Since then I have done almost everything– shows in New York City, on tour, cruise ships, film and TV. Lots of regional theater all over the country. I leave on Wednesday to do a show called It Shoulda Been You. So it’s been good. Theater has been a huge part of my life for at least the last 20 of my 32 years, which has been crazy.
Where did the idea for Broadway Up Close come from?
When I was on that first tour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, we played a lot of smaller theaters in small towns, old vaudeville theaters – to me, more interesting theaters because they had these weird little histories. In every theater I would go to the stage hands who were there for a long time and say, “do you have any ghost stories?