This Way to Broadway with Thommie Retter

Must-Have List for Child Actors

1. A talented, plugged-in, enthusiastic coach

2. A guardian angel

It’s your lucky day! Today I have a 2-for-1 offer for you. His name is Thommie Retter. Not only is he a bonafide Broadway star himself (he played the nutty, tap-happy Mr. Braithwaite in Billy Elliot), a phenomenal dance instructor, a wily audition prep coach with insider tips on what will happen in the casting room, a producer of awesome kids’ workshops and shows, BUT he is also the guardian angel of any kid lucky enough to find their way into his safe fold. If the business knocks your kid down‚ÄĒand it will‚ÄĒor the fun starts to go out of training, Thommie will pick up that trampled on, burned out little dying ember of an actor/dancer/singer and spark the biggest fire you’ve ever seen. No one leaves a session with Thommie feeling down. Ever. Each session starts with a bear hug, ends with a high-five, and is often the beginning of something big. Read on to see all the child stars who have trained with Thommie, AND to learn of a great opportunity to get your child in on the fun and excitement that is always brewing at Retter Entertainment

Thommie Retter in Billy Elliot

Thommie Retter as Mr. Braithwaite in Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway

This Way To Broadway, A Magical Broadway Christmas

A Magical Broadway Christmas

What exciting workshops/events do you have coming up?¬†¬†Thanks for asking Jill! Everyone at Retter Entertainment is buzzing about our upcoming This Way To Broadway event, A Magical Broadway Christmas. This variety show is open to kids ages 8 ‚Äď18, who want to experience an Off-Broadway stage.

Will you be the master of ceremonies for A Magical Broadway Christmas? ¬†Because I’m always looking for teachable moments with the kids I work with, I always choose¬†young people I think will benefit the most from the experience of hosting the event. This time around I am thrilled to announce that some super talented kids from the one-of-a-kind dancing dynamo Abby Lee Miller and Lifetime television show Dance Moms will be hosting the event! This will be fun for them because even though they are on television just about every day of the week, they never find themselves emceeing a live event. It will be fun for the AMBC kids because they will get to work side by side with kids they see all the time on TV and realize the kids they love from the show are just like themselves.¬†

Abby Lee Miller & the Dance Moms kids

I hear there will be another exciting special guest at A Magical Broadway Christmas?  Yes! Tony Award winner David Alvarez, who played Billy in the original cast of  Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway, will be performing, as well as Emma Howard from the Broadway shows Violet and Matilda! Working alongside professionals of this caliber will no doubt inspire your child to be their very best!

Tell us what the kids participating in this event will experience:

  • Each participant goes into recording studio to record their solo holiday song
  • Everyone will learn an ensemble song from Sonny Paladino the conductor of the Broadway¬†show Pippin and a seasoned musical dynamo from the Broadway¬†community
  • Everyone will record that ensemble song in the recording studio with Los Angeles based music producer, Brandon Jarrett
  • All are included in one of the scene/skits written and directed by Anthony Giunta writer/director of Contest “The Movie”
  • Contest, the movie
  • Each AMBC participate will perform their solo on stage in the heart of Times Square at Theatre 777
  • Each AMBC Participant will also perform an ensemble song and an ensemble scene/skit
  • Everyone will be featured in an authentic Broadway Playbill and¬†receive a one of a kind show shirt

Who is this appropriate for (age, skill level) and what will they learn? ¬†A Magical Broadway Christmas, which will take place¬†Dec 5 ‚Äď 7, ¬†will be a wildly exciting event and at the same time an enormous learning experience for young people looking to expand their¬†knowledge of the entertainment business. While performing in a¬†real life professional production, they will find themselves in a recording studio, working with top industry professionals and finally performing live on an Off-Broadway stage in the heart of Times Square! We are accepting submissions from Showbiz Kids between the ages of 8 and 18. We encourage all skill levels to audition, from beginners to the more experienced because this is an event that has room for everyone and the benefits are spectacular. The deadline to submit for the event is November 5th.

Have kids with Broadway experience ever participated in any of your This Way To Broadway productions? ¬†Yes they have! We have had performances from Billy Elliot’s Tony Award Winner Trent Kowalik and have enjoyed the talented Emma Howard from Matilda and Violet as well as Alex Dreier from Billy Elliot, The Assembled Parties and Finding Neverland.¬† Other past participants are Sam Poon from the National Tour of Billy Elliot, Fly and the Broadway production of Macbeth;¬†Presley Ryan¬† from the NBC production of the Sound Of Music;¬†Clara Young from an Equity production of Annie and the National Tour of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; Jenna Iacono from¬†the National Tour of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas;¬†Victoria Dennis from Little Miss Sunshine;¬†Madison Mullahey from the National Tours of Mary Poppins and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; Scarlett Diaz, Gabriella Green, Erin Haggerty,¬†Joy Kate Lawson, Jamieson O’Brien, Jordan O’Brien, Sarah Rappaport, Presley Ryan, Adam Dorfman, Stephen Sayegh, Olivia Sanders, Mavis Simpson Ernst, and Abbey Rose Gould from the Off-Broadway show The Little Princess; and Isabela Moner from the Broadway show Evita and the NBC television series Growing Up Fisher!¬†As you can see, This Way To Broadway is the kind of event that attracts kids with stage experience as well as those looking to join the theatre community!

What kind of a scheduling commitment is this for the kids? ¬†The schedule for Friday Dec. 5th will¬†consist¬†of recording sessions, ensemble vocal¬†rehearsals and ensemble scene/skit¬†rehearsals. The time frame will be roughly from 4:00-8:00. The schedule on Saturday Dec 6th will be similar though the hours will be longer… the kids can plan on spending the majority of the day working on the show with breaks for meals. The day of the show, Sunday Dec. 7th, we will have a 12:30 call for a 1:00 tech rehearsal that will last till 4:00 and then a 4:30 call for a 5:00 performance.

Thommie Retter and the Dance Mom kids

Thommie Retter and the “Dance Mom” dancers

What is the fee for this A Magical Broadway Christmas weekend event? ¬†This is when I give you the good news! Being a parent myself, I know how expensive children’s activities can be, so I sought out and secured outside supporters to underwrite a majority of the costs making it affordable for everyone to participate no matter what the personal¬†circumstances. The base fee for the event is $399 and that includes everything I have already detailed.¬† Space is limited so if you want to be considered you¬†should submit today!

Thommie Retter’s Friday Drop-In Tap Classes

Tell us about your Friday tap classes?  Each Friday I teach two tap classes at Ripley-Grier Studios in NYC. The first class is called Fun Tap and in that class I work on the fundamentals of tap. It is a lower intermediate class, though I do accept beginners and create tap dancers out of them in short order.  The second class is called Broadway Tap and in that class we work on Broadway level technique, combinations and choreography. Whether you have never been on the stage before or you just finished your third Broadway show, everybody is treated with the same level of respect and everyone receives equal attention. For more info, see: RetterEntertainment.com

Broadway Kid Audition Prep Classes

Tell us about your Audition prep classes? ¬†When Broadway shows and other productions are auditioning, ¬†it is a priority for me to make sure my students have the tools they need and are prepared to give their very best effort. I coach kids in private lessons and from time to time I hold Audition Prep classes targeting specific auditions and the style, energy and intention “they” will be looking for from the talent.

If someone wants a private session with you, what is the best way to get in touch?  The best way to sign up for a private session is to visit www.RetterEntertainment.com and click the contact button on the tool bar. I will respond quickly and we will get to work quickly. One of the fun parts about having private sessions with me is that I encourage the parents to sit in and see first hand the style of training I provide.

Check out this video to see how Thommie transformed my son Jamie from a casual tapper to a tappin’ dynamo in one session!

What are some of the shows your students have been in? ¬†I train a ton of Showbiz Kids that have been in a ton of shows…¬† Here is a list of shows my students have been seen in here in NYC and across the country in national tours;¬†A Christmas Story, The Adams Family, Annie, The Assembled Parties, Beauty And The Beast, Billy Elliot, Bye, Bye Birdie, The Christmas Spectacular, Elf, Evita, Finding Neverland, Fly, Freckleface Strawberry, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Honeymoon In Vegas, Kinky Boots, Lies My Father Told Me, Little Miss Sunshine, The Little Princess, Macbeth, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Newsies, Oliver, Once, Peter Pantomime, This Way To Broadway, Urinetown & Violet.

Your mom, Bette Retter, had her dance studio‚ÄĒRetter Dance Center in Kentwood, MI‚ÄĒfor 30 years, your wife Becca Retter teaches dance, your daughters dance‚ÄĒmajor dancing genes there! How much of someone’s potential as a dancer is genes and how much is hard work and discipline? ¬†In my opinion, no matter what the case may be, if you work hard you will see¬†positive¬†results that will give you the potential to succeed in the entertainment business or any other field for that matter!

What has been the highpoint of your dance career?  Without question the biggest thing that ever happened in my career was being cast in Billy Elliot The Musical and then performing for over 1.5 million Broadway theatre goers. I continue to have a really interesting career in the entertainment business and love every project I work on, but no matter what the future brings for me as a performer it will likely take second place.

What is your dream job at this point in the game?  I would like to be a regular on Sesame Street or a similar educational show for kids and continue to train young people to be the very best they can be!

Anything else you would like to talk about? ¬†I’d love to tell everyone about Moho Productions, a music production company I have ownership in, as my other passion is working as a songwriter and music producer. But I think we can save that topic for a follow-up interview!

Thanks everyone for taking the time to hear about A Magical Broadway Christmas! I hope you will consider¬†submitting your child and I look¬†forward to crossing paths. Submitting is easy! Just go to our website “designed by Stage Door Designs” at www.thiswaytobroadway.com¬†and click on submissions. ¬†Thanks, Jill, for the great interview and also for sending your son Jamie to me for training!¬† He is super talented and an awesome kid with an extremely bright future in front of him, and he comes from a top-of-the-line family!

See why I love this guy?! THANKS a million, Thommie. Take my advice: if you submit your child for This Way to Broadway, you will be on your way to great things. Join for tap classes too! Jamie and I hope to see you there soon :)

Here are the Showbiz Kids of This Way To Broadway performing “Our Time,” written by Thommie Retter and Brandon Jarrett for Moho Productions, music production by Brandon Jarrett

Check out Thommie Retter, tapper extraordinaire!

Stay tuned for a post on last weekend’s fab Rock the Runway event, hosted by Debra Somerville of Images Workshop¬†and Dawn Woods King of DWKing Talent Management, with the fabulous Shailah Edmonds in the house!

Don’t forget to Enter the Modeling Mentor Model Search contest!