THESPIAN ALUM Nicholas Edwards — a graduate of Troupe 6803 at New Jersey’s Bordentown Regional High School — was just 10 years old when his mother introduced him to the original Broadway cast recording of Les Misérables. The epic score made quite an impression on the budding performer. So, it was truly a dream come true when, a decade and a half later, the actor found himself traveling across North America as a member of the show’s national tour, singing the songs that had helped ignite his love of musical theatre.

In 2019, Edwards went straight from the company of Les Mis to his Broadway debut in the ensemble of another musical extravaganza: Disney’s Frozen, where he understudied the role of ice harvester (and Princess Anna love interest) Kristoff. Having spent a year in Arendelle, Edwards departed that production in January 2020 to join the cast of the world premiere musical revue Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at Paper Mill Playhouse.

Nicholas Edwards

Nicholas Edwards

In addition to performing, Edwards is an accomplished photographer and artist, who often shares drawings inspired by his theatrical endeavors on his Instagram account (@nickedwardsnyc). He says each artistic channel fuels the others. “It’s interesting because, although I’ve always loved music, visual art was my first love,” Edwards said. “Sometimes as you focus on one aspect, such as theatre or singing, you tend to forget about the other things you love. It’s nice to have other creative outlets.

“It’s all about balance,” Edwards said. “When you find time to practice another hobby or art form, you can come back to your craft feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next project.”

What sparked your interest in theatre?
Growing up, my mother would take me to Broadway shows. I would always leave the theatre singing the tunes. She also would give me CDs (remember those?) of cast recordings. My favorite was Les Misérables. I would create my own chores and scenes to the music in my living room.

The first show I saw was the revival of Sweet Charity, but it was The Phantom of the Opera that changed my life. From the moment the iconic overture started, I was captivated. And when they started singing — I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

What are your favorite Thespian memories or productions?
Rehearsals were always my favorite. Getting to know your fellow Thespians and bonding over all the weird things we liked — we were always singing, dancing, and had more energy than most kids our age. The trips we would go on were unforgettable: seeing other high school productions, going to competitions. It was a blast. My favorite show in high school would have to be Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I played Joseph, my first role, so that one will always be special to me.

Nicholas Edwards backstage as Kristoff in Frozen. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Edwards.

What was it like getting to tour in Les Misérables, a production that meant so much to you as a child?
It was truly a full-circle moment. Even auditioning for the show and being in callbacks — it was all that mattered to me. It sounds crazy, but once you perform “One Day More” and complete the unforgettable march downstage, your life is never the same. You finish the last note, hit the pose on the button, and think to yourself, “Wow … I’m in Les Mis. THE Les Mis.” There’s nothing quite like it.

My favorite part of touring was always finding the best local eats and coffee shops. I love a good cup of coffee.

You’ve said Kristoff in Frozen is one of the hardest roles you’ve ever performed. What are the challenges of appearing in a show that has such an enthusiastic, built-in fan base?
The part requires a little bit of everything — honest acting, singing, strapping on a harness and letting yourself dangle above the stage — and you even get a well-earned dance solo! I remember seeing the show for the first time thinking, “Oh wow, I have to do all that?” But the human body is capable of adapting. You sometimes have to remind yourself that, even though you got this far, there’s always room to grow.

I pushed myself and rehearsed harder than I’ve ever pushed myself for Frozen. Being a Disney show, it draws a lot of families who bring children. For many of them, this is their first Broadway production. I tried to remember that every time I stepped onstage — to keep it alive and fresh. It is Frozen after all. And with Frozen II out, the musical is as popular as ever.

The amazing thing about live theatre is that it is more approachable. People come to relate to the characters and stories they see onstage. Because of this I felt I had more liberty to bring a lot of myself to Kristoff. He’s often grumpy and very set in his ways, but at the same time he is goofy, charming, and has a huge heart. I tried to find ways I related to his character and highlighted them throughout the show.

What advice would you give Thespians interested in pursuing a career like yours?
Never stop being a student. Work hard. Start your training as early as possible. A lot of people have raw talent, but not everyone has great discipline.

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