Working to achieve a Broadway dream


By Luke Gronneberg

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SIDNEY — Five-year-old David Potts had a nonspeaking roll in a play at Holy Angels Catholic School directed by his mom, Karen Potts. Now, at the age of 21, Potts will be heading to New York City in the hopes of becoming a Broadway star.

Potts went on to have more significant rolls in his mom’s plays while he was in the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades at Holy Angels Catholic School. He began voice lessons at the age of 12. While at Holy Angels Catholic School Potts also performed in three junior productions with Sock and Buskin at the Historic Sidney Theatre.

For his freshman year of high school, Potts enrolled at Lehman Catholic High School, where he performed in a production of a “King and I.”

At this point in his life, Potts said of acting and singing, “I never saw it as a credible career option.” Potts wanted to be a physicist that worked on big problems.

At the beginning of his sophomore year, Potts transferred to Piqua High School. He transferred for a variety of reasons, but the nail in the coffin moment was when he saw the Piqua High School’s show choir, while shadowing a friend for the day. Potts joined the Piqua High School show choir and began performing in the annual Piqua High School musicals.

Gradually, Potts began to give up on becoming a physicist. He found out that the physicists he admired had gone to more science based high schools. He also realized that he would need to focus more on academics if he still wanted to go into physics which would mean giving up on show choir. Ultimately, show choir won out.

In his junior year of high school, Potts started to see what a career in musical theatre might look like. In the summer of 2018, between Potts’ junior and senior years, he got the supporting roll of Caiaphas in a production of “Jesus Christ Super Star,” which Potts said is “one of my favorite musicals of all time so I wanted to try out for that.”

The play was produced by Dare 2 Defy in Dayton. The play was a more professional production than anything he had done up until that point. Dare 2 Defy had the goal of bringing semi professional theatre to the youth of the area. Actors had to be in the age range of 16-20. Potts was 18 when he landed the part of Caiaphas.

His senior year, Potts played the lead part of Lawrence Jamieson in the Piqua High School musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” After the school season ended in 2019, he talked with Piqua High School Music Director Thomas Westfall, whom Potts describes as the biggest contributor to his love of musical theatre. Westfall told Potts that musical theatre was something he should pursue and not just keep as a hobby. This talk erased any lingering doubt for Potts about whether to pursue musical theatre as his profession.

Fully committed, Potts enrolled at the Ohio State University’s music program. Enrolling in the music program was difficult. He had to pass a jury interview, perform a song and pass a written test on music theory.

Things were going well at OSU until COVID-19 arrived in 2020 and changed his plans. Potts had landed a part in an OSU production of the fairy tale musical “Into the Woods.” Just a week away from opening night, the musical was canceled due to COVID-19. Potts finished out the year through remote learning. In 2021, Potts went back to campus where he took part in hybrid learning that consisted mostly of online lessons with only a few professors holding in class learning. Potts is not a fan of remote learning, and at the end of the spring semester in 2021, Potts decided to go on academic leave.

Potts thought it was time to go for the gusto and take a stab at becoming a Broadway star in New York City. He will be leaving for the Big Apple at the end of May.

Potts is driven to do whatever it takes to make it in the ultra competitive environment of Broadway. He has remained active since leaving OSU. He has been saving up for his big move by registering people for COVID-19 testing at Wilson Health to earn money.

Theatre opportunities have been more limited recently due to COVID-19, but Potts has managed to find some opportunities. He won $150 by placing second in a talent contest at the Historic Sidney Theatre, performed three solos in the Historic Sidney Theatre production of “All Together Now” and played the part of Rapunzel’s Prince in a production of “Into the Woods” by Dayton Playhouse.

Now four months away from his departure date, Potts has a plan to make it in New York and do whatever it takes. He knows the odds are stacked against him, but he also says, “I’ve got confidence and perseverance.”

Money will be a big challenge. Potts describes rent as “insane” in New York City. He would like to live in an apartment, but if he has to, he will sleep on someone’s couch. A family friend and editor of Wired Magazine Angela Watercutter who lives in New York City has said she will try and help him find a place to live.

Besides saving up for expenses Potts has taken online courses in programming websites in the hopes of landing a job while in New York. If he can’t get a job in programming, Potts said he is willing to take whatever job comes along, including flipping burgers. If his hard work pays off and he gets a part in a broadway play, he should do well financially. According to, Broadway actors make a median salary of $127,367 with the top earners bringing in over $700,000. Broadway shows can run for months or years.

The competition will be fierce. Potts compared getting into a Broadway production to getting into the NFL. Football players that were one of the best players to ever come out of their high school still can’t make it at the national level because they are going up against all the other players across the entire country who were the best at their schools, too. Potts will have to prove that he belongs with the best of the best.

There are a number of avenues for Potts to get his foot in the door. One of the first things he needs to do is try and get accepted into the Actors’ Equity Association, which is a labor union for actors. Potts anticipates this to be difficult based on what he has read. Actors have to audition to get into the Actors’ Equity Association. Potts read of one account where an actor performing to get into the union was dismissed after only one minute. Getting accepted into the union is essential in that an actor has to be a member to be eligible to try out for most major productions and many smaller ones as well.

Even if Potts is unable to initially get accepted by the Actors’ Equity Association, there are other avenues for him. There are plenty of acting jobs that don’t require an Actors’ Equity Association membership. Some of these jobs can be found in off Broadway plays, off off Broadway plays, community theaters, singing at diners, and acting at museums. Potts will do anything and everything to build his resume and experience level.

To make sure he wasn’t moving to New York sight-unseen, Potts visited the city for the first time in his life on his 21st birthday in September. He went to the Broadway play “Waitress” and was blown away.

“It was amazing, it was awesome. It’s such a different musical seeing it on Broadway. Every actor could have been the lead.” Potts made the point that the talent level is such that the final factor for if an actor is chosen can be how they look or what the director has in mind, not just the quality of an actors performance.

Though Potts is ready for rejection, he has also been thinking about what it would be like to make it big and sing alongside his roll models. It would be “kind of terrifying to look at them as my peers and not just roll models.” His No. 1 Broadway roll model is Ben Platt.

“I would probably faint if I ever met him,” Potts said. “He is phenomenal, his voice, his acting.” He has even released an album. Platt is everything Potts aspires to. If things don’t work out in New York, Potts will come home and finish college. Before that happens, though, he will give it his all and someday, in the not-to-distant future, Potts could have his name in lights next to the likes of Ben Platt.

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