From the stage to your home, NYU Tisch graduate and star of off-Broadway productions now offers classes in vocal performance, monologues, scene studies, and more
Everywhere we look there is some news that elicits a strong reaction in us. While it is important to keep updated, it can take a toll on our mental health.
“There is so much going on now. The arts are more valuable than ever. We turn to TV shows, movies, and theater to escape from reality. To find moments of joy, sadness, and excitement. It can be very healing,” says Nacho Tambunting. Raised in the Philippines, he has gone on to see the stages of New York and the cameras of Los Angeles.
With roles on TV and off-Broadway productions, Nacho’s international career is just starting. Then Covid-19 has put the industry at a standstill. But people look to art to quell their anxieties in these unprecedented times. Drawing from his breadth of experiences, the New York University (NYU) Tisch graduate now offers online, performance-based classes.
“I spend a lot of time helping other actor friends with self-tapes, coaching them, and working with them. Acting is all about process and I enjoy the discovery very much. A few actor friends I have helped mentioned how effective my coaching was, so I have had the thought at the back of my head for a while now,” Nacho shares. “I’ve learned so much through my experiences, […] it would be nice to share what I’ve learned with whoever is interested.”
In a one-on-one with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Nacho shares some tips he is excited to teach aspiring actors and singers. He grounds the lessons in his personal experiences from major productions he has been a part of.
Last year, Nacho originated the role of Junior in the off-Broadway musical Felix Starro. Jessica Hagedorn wrote the book and lyrics, while Fabian Obispo wrote the music. A review published in The New York Times praised Nacho’s performance, in particular, his singing.
“An important lesson I learned working on Felix Starro is not to allow the audience’s reactions to affect your performance,” says Nacho.
In the final scene, Junior debates whether he should change his identity and become TNT. While dreaming of a new life, he does not want to leave his grandfather behind. It is an emotional moment of internal conflict for his character.
“I would be in a vulnerable state holding back tears. Audience members would begin to laugh, which was distracting and a little insulting for me as an actor,” he recalls. “It wasn’t till after a few performances that I realized that laughter was their response to feeling uncomfortable. So I began to embrace it and expect it. Eventually, I was able to ignore it and not allow it to take me off guard.”
It helped that Nacho was doing theater at a young age. At 10 years old he was performing with Repertory Philippines. The former child actor lightheartedly tells us that he has experienced every possible mishap. He has learned to shake it off and move on.
“From throwing a prop into the audience, power outages on stage, falling set pieces, broken microphones, missed cues, forgotten lines—you name it! But those experiences prepared me for a career as a theater actor.”
It was through theater auditions that Nacho found himself landing a recurring role on Rise. The NBC show follows an inspiring teacher (Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother) who pushes several high school students to perform a musical. While Rise and other TV roles have helped Nacho grow as an actor, he confesses that musical theater will always be his first love.
“I love the magical feeling that comes when I watch a performer sing a song and move the audience,” he exclaims with passion. “It’s a high like no other.”
Vocal performance is Nacho’s favorite performance-based subject to teach. On Rise, as Francis Russo, he performs songs from the Tony-award winning musical Spring Awakening. This includes singing solos in the songs “Touch Me” and “The Bitch of Living.”
“[The classes] allow me to help guide performers through the acting of the song,” Nacho adds. “Together we can work through the various beats, and discover the intricacies of the music and lyrics connecting it to specific images and contexts. I enjoy the process of discovery, and working with other performers teaches me a lot.”
The show must go
During the pandemic, Nacho has been able to reconnect and realign with his family. It is a rare treat. Based in New York, he is used to being thousands of miles away from them. There, he is caught up with the ups and downs of being a working actor. Audition after audition, actors deal with rejections on a daily basis. When they land a job after all of that training and hard work, they rehearse for long hours most of the week. There are nerve-wracking performances on stage, or in front of the camera, that actors will always want to improve on. Then the process repeats itself.
It is a tough industry that can make a young actor feel beat up at times. But perhaps because it is so tough, there is no doubt the industry will jump back stronger. And young artists and actors like Nacho will be at the helm to usher in an artistic point of view that reflects the new normal we are entering. As a way to escape and to learn, as Nacho previously said, “art is more valuable than ever.”
Nacho Tambunting’s acting classes are available online. [email protected]