- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Anchorage showbiz stalwart Alex Pierce left for Los Angeles last year in search of the big acting breaks that can only happen in one of the great entertainment capitals of America.

He came back to town this week as part of the cast in the production of “Les Miserables” that the Anchorage Concert Association is bringing to Atwood Concert Hall Oct. 17-26. He’ll have a busy schedule, with only one day off during the 12-show run, but Pierce plans to make good use of the time to do a little hometown P.R.

“I’m trying to show some people in the cast around Anchorage,” he said. “A couple have visited before, but a lot of them are California natives who have never even seen snow.”

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Pierce first came to Anchorage on a two-year internship to direct a church choir. He liked what he found here and stuck around to finish college at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and vocal performance.

Adept at both singing and acting, he picked up a series of major roles in local productions of musicals and straight theater. He turned in performances that were reliably professional and convincing in “Godspell,” ”Wonder of the World,” ”Into the Woods” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” He sang the part of the Poet in the operatic musical “Kismet,” originated the character of Ike in the premiere of Jerry and Karmo Sanders’ ragtime-flavored “Gold Rush Girls,” performed in Cyrano’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Clybourne Park” and shined as the composer in the frantically lively “(title of show),” his last performance in Anchorage.

“I left a few days after it closed,” he said. The transition has proved to be a theatrical education.

“I moved here (to Los Angeles) with the intention of doing some film, but came to understand that I’m not really a fan of film. So I’ve concentrated on musical theater and plays.”

“It’s definitely different here,” he said. In Anchorage, there are always local companies trying to fill out casts from the fairly small pool of local talent.

“In Anchorage, you can pick and chose. Here, I’m happy to be cast at all. There’s a lot more competition and a lot more opportunities. You still have to believe that you’re going to get the role, but you have to be OK with rejection as well. I’ve had to learn to be OK with not getting big roles.

“And you have to be willing to go for everything, with being ready to go to 10 or 20 auditions before you get something. Little things can lead to big things here, I’ve come to find. I’ve taken jobs that weren’t very big, but I’d meet people and they’d invite me to audition for something bigger. It’s more about networking and getting to know people, because everyone here is talented.”

Pierce hasn’t yet signed with an agent because, he said, he’s skeptical about many of them. “A lot of agents aren’t going to help you much. I want some more L.A. credits on my resume first, (to) build up a reputation. That way the good agents are more likely to pick you up.”

He actually heard about the “Les Miserables” opportunity from an Anchorage friend who told him the show would be coming up. “I went online and, lo and behold, there it was. I said, ‘Well, I have to audition for this.’”

It was an open call audition. He showed up and got the call. The prior Alaska connection may have been a plus.

“I think it helped me stick out,” he said. “They remembered me. ‘Oh, it’s that Alaska guy.’ I’m not going to turn down any advantage I have when it comes to getting a part.”

Several parts, actually. He doesn’t have one of the major roles but is in the ensemble. “I wouldn’t call it a small role,” he said. “I play multiple small roles — I think six.”

There truly aren’t any small roles in the touring production. The Broadway show has a cast of around 50, but the necessities of travel require a certain amount of trimming. The upcoming version will have a cast of 22, Pierce said, and that means that everyone has to play several different characters in the sprawling saga of love, justice, revolution and hope.

“It’s exciting to have to be someone different in every scene,” he said. “It’s challenging, too. But I’m learning a lot from being around people who’ve done traveling shows and Broadway.”

That kind of life appeals to him. “I’m working toward being able to do either Broadway or national tours,” he said. “That would be awesome.”


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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