graduate of Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Kyle Taylor
Parker is in the traveling production of the musical, "In
the Heights," which was
performed in Milwaukee.
Kyle Taylor Parker had his future figured out at age 5, when his
mother, Lorraine Lathen, took him to his first Broadway show,
"Annie." He says he doesn’t know if it was the lights, the
music or the magic of losing himself in the story, but he knew he
needed, somehow, to get himself on that stage.
So he took singing, dancing and acting lessons. He put on shows for
his family — and charged them admission. He applied what he was
learning at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts and Milwaukee High
School of the Arts to work in professional theater productions.
"I was very
fortunate to grow up around professional companies, like First Stage
Milwaukee and The Rep," Parker says. "I was employed by the
Florentine Opera Company in their children’s chorus, and did that
for three years until I got too old and my voice changed."
By the time he
graduated at age 17, Parker was ready to study the arts at the
American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
dream is to have a multifaceted career," he says, which would
include acting, directing, casting and writing. "Half the battle
is learning how to carry yourself in the theater. It is a business; it’s
show business. You are your own manager, you’re building contacts,
you’re representing yourself. If people don’t think you’re
professional, they may not want to work with you." That means
leaving your personal drama at the door, he notes, and putting
everything you have into your character.
of Parker’s most exciting experiences was being selected to perform
in "Broadway’s Rising Stars" at New York’s Town Hall.
About 20 performers from the top arts schools in the country are
chosen to participate.
you and you put together a showcase for agents, producers and people
in the business," Parker says. "You’ve proven who you are
and they stand behind you and say, ‘I believe this person is really
going to make it on Broadway.’"
One of Parker’s
odd jobs in New York was selling souvenir T-shirts at the
Tony-Award-winning Broadway hit "In the Heights."
"I used to
sneak in every night and take notes," he says. Today, at 24, he
is in the traveling production of the musical, as a dancer and
understudy for the romantic lead. The show has taken him across the
country, and brings him home to the Milwaukee Theatre this month.
really love the community of Milwaukee. It’s a very tight-knit
theater community and everyone knows everyone," Parker says. That’s
the kind of community that is portrayed in "The Heights," he
adds, "and you don’t get a lot of that in New York."