Editor’s Note — As part of our countdown to 2024, WYDaily is revisiting its most-read and favorite stories of the year. Reporter Megan Roche chose this story because, as a big fan of Broadway shows, and particularly Wicked, she was excited to learn that one of the stars of the show was from our area. The chance to sit down and have a conversation over coffee and learn so much about a show that she grew up loving was something she won’t forget.
WILLIAMSBURG — She had an 11-year career on Broadway, has toured nationally in some of the best musicals, staged her own shows, and has since returned to the Hampton Roads area and now is inspiring and encouraging others on how to do the same.
After receiving seven rejections for “Wicked,” Tiffany Haas was picked on audition number eight as a swing. After years of effort on the Gershwin Theater stage, she had the opportunity to don the Glinda costume. It was a moment she will never forget.
“I never asked, but I always wonder what was it on audition number eight that was so fantastic? When I went in for that eighth audition, I remember the associate producer saying ‘where have you been? That was fantastic!’ and I just thought ‘I’ve been here the last seven times, where have you been?'” Haas recalls.
Through show after show, Haas always worked on her craft. Staying a student, she frequently attended masterclasses, vocal sessions, and did anything she could to learn more about the career path she had chosen for herself.
After 11 years, she called it a career.
“A Broadway career is eight shows a week. I never thought I’d be in the place to say ‘I think I’m ready to move on’. I thought I’d move to New York and be that 300-year-old lady hunched over her walker, auditioning for shows all the time. I made the move to leave Broadway after reconnecting with my high school sweetheart and realizing that I had hit my dream of being on Broadway,” Haas said.
Once she hung up her character shoes, Hass returned to the Yorktown area to teach and inspire the next generation of talent.
While teaching, Haas also published a book, “Waiting in the Wings: How to Launch Your Performing Career on Broadway and Beyond,” something that had never been on her radar.
“Parents would always attend these masterclasses that I would teach or speak at and they would encourage me to write a book. I thought they’d want a book about auditioning, but they wanted the stories I told during the class. I started writing diary entries or little stories and the book came together the way that it did,” Haas said.
Throughout Haas’ book, readers learn about marketing themselves, working with people, how to prep for auditions, the process of finding an agent, talking to the press, handling social media, being someone people want to hire, and more.
“I have always been very goal-oriented, because of what my interests were. I feel there is a lack of young people today understanding the process because there is so much attention drawn to the aspect of being an overnight success. Process is so important but becoming an overnight YouTube sensation is not the norm and it doesn’t last. Longevity is always the goal,” Haas said.
While the book is geared toward those interested in a career in the performing arts, interspersed with stories of Haas’ journey to the stage, there are also many stories about the lessons she learned along the way — life lessons that are beneficial for any career path.
“I hope they find it helpful in the aspect of not just theater lessons, but life lessons, about never giving up whatever it is that they want to do. Maybe not everyone will like you, and that’s okay. Try not to take things too personally and try not to take yourself too seriously. Those life lessons are so important for all of us to remember at all stages of life and once we stop learning from those, game over,” Haas said.
While living her ultimate dream on Broadway, it was never lost on Haas that there was always someone in the audience who loved her. She remained grateful for every performance.
“It broke my heart when people would sneak out the back door of the theater. Without the fans, we wouldn’t have a show. It was always so important to me to be thankful. It always blew my mind how excited they were to ask me for an autograph. To me, I was just always Tiffany who happened to be playing the part of a really cool girl,” Haas said.
As she continues to inspire local talent, Haas also works with talent around the country with her summer intensive, Destination Broadway. She actively auditions children and teens from around the country for an invite to a July summer intensive where those chosen have the opportunity to work with Broadway stars, casting directors, and talent agents that provide them with feedback.
With the book, Destination Broadway, and the Academy of Dance and Gymnastics studios, Haas is passing down the wisdom of her years in the industry.
“Anything worth having is worth working for. You have to know that this is meant for you in your mind and in your heart and it can happen for you,” Haas said.
To learn more about Haas or to purchase her book, visit tiffanyhaas.com.