7 February 2022

AIM Grad Jake Tyler on Directing Heathers, Crazy Auditions & More

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Jake Tyler is an accomplished and energetic Australian Institute of Music graduate and multi-talented performer who is excitingly making his directorial debut with The Mitchell Old Theatre Company for the Sydney production of “Heathers: The Musical.” The global musical is based on the 80’s cult film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater that explores the vicious nature of teenage popularity contests, the appeal of the outlaw and finding an identity amongst the “push and pull” of these forces.

The opportunity to direct “Heathers” arrived in an unexpected way that is testament to Jake’s lifelong ability to hustle and boundless enthusiasm to get involved. When another opportunity (being cast in a new Australian musical, “The Deb”) prompted him to relinquish his original role in the Heathers cast, he made a fateful phone call. “I rang the producer (and director at the time). I said, ‘If you still need me, I’d love to be an assistant.’ I came in, and he was so busy doing the overall project. He was like, ‘I trust you, why don’t you just direct it?’”

“I’m a performer, but doing Heathers has really opened my eyes up to directing,” Jake explains. “I’ve always wanted to direct and it’s been a very scary experience, but I think what we’ve come up with is beautiful and the cast have been amazing to work with,” he says. “How can you not love Heathers?” he laughs. 

How The Spotlight Has Swung

Falling in love with musical theatre as a child propelled Jake into what is undoubtedly a cutthroat industry. He’s been striding his way through the spotlight from a ton of different positions on the stage over the years. Jake sang in the choir at Adele’s concert in front of 96,000 people. He’s made his own music, starred in a New Zealand production of “Cats” and is about to appear in “The Deb,” a new Aussie musical from Rebel Wilson’s production company. Jake’s is a rare COVID-era success story.  

Jake graduated from the Australian Institute of Music’s Musical Theatre degree in 2017. AIM was integral to “hitting his marks” in the entertainment world. “It definitely prepared me for the industry … doing everything from singing, dancing and acting in the degree. It then threw me in the deep end, when it came to auditioning,” he says.

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Top 3 lessons learned at AIM:

  1. Always hustle. And never give up on the hustle. 
  2. Always be kind to every single person in whatever field you’re in. 
  3. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Relentlessly self-taping and auditioning and coping with the emotional rollercoaster of winning (and not winning) roles is a crucial part of the life of a working actor who must become a chameleon to match the opportunity, whilst still maintaining what makes them unique. “You have to work out what you’re really good at, and what you’re not really good at to determine whether you can do this or not, because it’s such a hard industry to be a part of,” he says.

Lucky Hats & Ridiculous Auditions

Jake’s most ridiculous audition commenced with less than 12 hours notice. With his lucky hat and two songs prepared, he arrived to meet the creative team and the director, “who was a hoot,” Jake says. “They said we would be playing a game called ‘I Don’t Believe You.’ It involves finding your truth in a song and having the other person say whether they believe you or not,” Jake explains.

“When it was my turn to sing, the director kept yelling ‘More, come on! More! Come on now, I don’t believe you!’ She started to yell, ‘Do something! MORE!’ I found myself getting more and more annoyed at her,” he continues. “I ended up throwing my hat at her. She was in complete shock, and here I am thinking I have completely blown this. As she composes herself she puts the hat on and yells “YES, yes I believe you!’ 

“To this day, it was the strangest audition I have ever had. However she must have liked the hat … I ended up booking the gig,” he laughs.

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What’s Next

“I’m also delving into the world of contemporary music,” he explains. Joined by fellow artist Tuscan, he’s crafting a sound that he describes as “Frank Sinatra meets Sam Sparrow.” He’s been pushed to take creative risks by his girlfriend, a fellow AIM graduate and accomplished singer herself. “I owe it to my partner Olivia, who’s in Moulin Rouge, she also has her own EP out …  she’s inspired me to keep going and to keep living my dreams and to really accomplish what I want to,” Jake says. “I think it makes you a better person, in a way – experiencing all these new things that you didn’t think were possible for you.”

jake olivia
Christina Rowatt

Christina Rowatt

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    Prepare for landing leading roles, playing in ensembles, and generating original theatre works as they steadily build their professional skills. This is a specialised practice that integrates your singing and acting skills with one-on-one tuition.