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Native Son Returns Home to Earn Degree


August 30, 2012




A dream is a wish your heart makes, and for Brad Bass that dream was move to New York City and make it on Broadway. However, Ringgold, Virginia, is a long way from the bright lights and big city. Growing up, Bass had a love for music; and he developed an affinity for performing by singing in church every week.

His dream cemented itself in his mind when he went to New York City at the age of 13 to perform with the Dan River High School band over spring break. During that trip, he saw his first Broadway play, "Les Miserables."

"I thought we were seeing a French movie," Bass recalled. "I had no idea that it was a play, and with music no less! Needless to say, my life was forever changed. I made it my goal to move to New York City and make it on Broadway."

Once he returned to Danville, Bass searched for any form of arts he could find to participate in, but during his high school years, the offerings were less then plentiful; so he dove straight into the theatre department at Dan River — "the only place I really felt at home." Once he graduated from high school, Bass was accepted to, and subsequently attended, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Before he graduated with a certificate, Bass had his first acting job.

From regional theatre work for about five years in such productions as "White Christmas," "Grease," "Godspell," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "The Miracle Worker" Bass booked his first big show — the Chicago production of "Wicked." He moved from the Chicago production to the big stage – Broadway. He worked on "Wicked" for a year before leaving to join the cast of "Memphis," which was being performed around the country.

"Then the 'little show that could' made it on Broadway," Bass said. "We opened ('Memphis') and about eight months later I performed on the Tony Awards where 'Memphis' was nominated for Best Musical. It was the most magical night of my life. The little farm boy from Ringgold was performing at Radio City Music Hall on the Tony Awards, AND we won the Tony for Best Musical. It doesn't get much better than that."

Bass was part of the cast of "Memphis" for almost three years. He decided at that time to move on and was lucky enough to be cast in his third Broadway production "Jersey Boys," where he worked for about a year.

Performing eight times a week over and over again began to wear on him, and he made the decision in March to quit performing and go back to school to pursue a degree in theatre education.

"During my seven years on and off Broadway, I found a passion for teaching theatre," Bass said. "Helping other young adults make their dreams come true has become my focus." In addition to taking classes like any other student, Bass will work with the theatre department as an artist in residence, leading workshops and helping with theatre productions. "Averett has the ability to be a wonderful environment for students to hone their skills. I'm honored to be taking classes at Averett and I make it my pledge to help make this theatre department the best in Virginia."