Austin P. McKenzie
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Austin P. McKenzie (born August 24, 1993) is an American actor, known for his role as Melchior Gabor in
Deaf West Theatre Deaf West Theatre is a non-profit arts organization based in Los Angeles, California, USA. It is most well known for its Tony Award, Tony Award nominated productions of ''Big River (musical), Big River'' and ''Spring Awakening (musical), Spring Awa ...
's 2015 Broadway revival of '' Spring Awakening''. His performance as Melchior has garnered significant critical acclaim, and multiple theatrical award nominations, for both Los Angeles runs and its run on Broadway.


Early life

McKenzie grew up in
Mesa, Arizona Mesa ( ) is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, Maricopa County, in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is the most populous city in the East Valley (Phoenix metropolitan area), East Valley section of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is bordered by T ...

Mesa, Arizona
. When he was young he wanted to become a music minister, even though his family did not regularly attend church. Starting at age fifteen, McKenzie spent six summers assisting at a summer camp for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities called Lions Camp Tatiyee. It is where he first came in contact with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The camp inspired him to enroll at
Columbia College Chicago Columbia College Chicago is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly ...
, where he studied
American Sign Language American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language In neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Pr ...

American Sign Language
and Childhood Education with the intention of becoming a
special needs teacher
special needs teacher
. He graduated in 2014 with a
Bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
in
American Sign Language American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language In neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Pr ...

American Sign Language
and Vocal Performance. During high school, McKenzie had a casual involvement in the arts and was involved with some theatre, but did not see it as a possible career.


Career


''Spring Awakening'' (2014–2016)

Soon after graduating from
Columbia College Chicago Columbia College Chicago is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly ...
, McKenzie sent in a tape to director
Michael Arden Michael Jerrod Moore (born October 6, 1982), known professionally as Michael Arden, is an American actor, musician and theater, stage director. Early life Growing up in Midland, Texas, Midland, Texas, he was active in the Pickwick Players, Midla ...
and the creative team at
Deaf West Theatre Deaf West Theatre is a non-profit arts organization based in Los Angeles, California, USA. It is most well known for its Tony Award, Tony Award nominated productions of ''Big River (musical), Big River'' and ''Spring Awakening (musical), Spring Awa ...
, with hopes of obtaining a job as an interpreter during the company's ASL-inclusive run of '' Spring Awakening''. However, the Deaf West team saw his potential, and requested he audition for the leading role in the production—the radical atheist Melchior Gabor. He was given the role, and began rehearsing for the show in mid-2014. At first, McKenzie was the only member of the hearing cast that was able to effectively communicate with their deaf and hard-of-hearing cohorts, thanks to his training in ASL. Deaf West's ''Spring Awakening'' originally performed at a 99-seat theatre off of
skid row A skid row or skid road is an impoverished area, typically urban, in English-speaking North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), conven ...
in
Los Angeles, California Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles, California
from September 14, 2014 to November 9, 2014. It was McKenzie's professional theatre debut. In 2015, the production was rebooted at the
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a community arts center in Beverly Hills, California, named for philanthropist Wallis Annenberg in recognition for Annenberg Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation's major gift to fund the campus ...

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
in Beverly Hills with the additions of cast members
Andy Mientus Andrew Michael Mientus (born November 10, 1986) is an American actor, singer, composer and writer. He is best known for starring in the Broadway theatre, Broadway musicals ''Spring Awakening (musical), Spring Awakening'', ''Les Misérables (musica ...

Andy Mientus
, as Hanschen Rilow,
Krysta Rodriguez Krysta Anne Rodriguez (born July 23, 1984) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her roles as Ana Vargas in the NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, somethi ...
, as Ilse Neumann,
Alex Boniello Alex Boniello (born October 5, 1990) is an American actor and Tony Award-winning producer best known for his portrayal of the voice of Moritz in the 2015 Broadway revival of ''Spring Awakening (musical), Spring Awakening''. In 2018, he replaced Mike ...
, as the voice of Moritz Stiefel and Alex Wyse as Georg Zirschnitz. McKenzie reprised his role as Melchior. McKenzie and the rest of the cast were highly acclaimed by critics, receiving many nominations and wins for Ovation Awards; including his Best Leading Actor in a Musical nomination. The show ran from May 21, 2015 to June 14, 2015. In the mid-summer of 2015, it was announced that the production would be transferring to Broadway theatre, Broadway with its current cast for a limited engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. McKenzie made his Broadway debut on September 8, 2015, and stayed with the production through its closing on January 24, 2016. The show ran two weeks past its intended run due to its rave reviews, and garnered three Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical.


Film and television (2015–present)

In addition to theatre, McKenzie has appeared on both the big and small screen. In 2015, he appeared in a one-episode guest starring role in the television series ''Audience Network, The 101.'' He starred in the feature film ''Speech & Debate,'' adapted from the hit 2007 off-Broadway play Speech & Debate (play), of the same name by Tony-winning playwright Stephen Karam and released by Sycamore Pictures and Vertical Entertainment in select theaters and VOD on April 7, 2017. McKenzie stars as one of three leads as the character of Howie, an openly gay teenager alongside Sarah Steele, who also starred in the original off-Broadway premiere of ''Speech & Debate'' and Liam James. The film features three misfit students in high school who are frustrated with the hypocrisy they see in their parents and school staff. Together, they try to revive an extinct school debate club to face the situation in which they find themselves. A number of theater names including Darren Criss and Lin-Manuel Miranda cameo in the film and Kristin Chenoweth sings an original song for the film. McKenzie recently starred in the ABC docudrama miniseries ''When We Rise'', helmed by Dustin Lance Black and Gus Van Sant. He portrays the young LGBT activist Cleve Jones in the period piece, which chronicles the personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ people who helped pioneer an offshoot of the Civil Rights Movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today. ''When We Rise'' tells the history of the LGBT social movements, modern gay rights movement, starting with the Stonewall riots in 1969. McKenzie also sings "Thinking of You" from the ''When We Rise'' soundtrack.


Personal life

Mckenzie is gay. He is dating actor Kevin McHale (actor), Kevin McHale.


Theatre credits


Filmography


Soundtracks


Discography


Awards and nominations


References


External links

* * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:McKenzie, Austin P. 1993 births Living people American male stage actors American male film actors American male television actors People from Mesa, Arizona LGBT people from Arizona LGBT entertainers from the United States LGBT male actors Theatre World Award winners American Sign Language interpreters