WEST ORANGE, NJ – Gary Lynch, Beth Baur, and Tyler Lynch. They’re a close-knit family and the names of three long-time residents that you may not recognize, but you very well might know. Combined, they have won national awards, appeared on and off Broadway, on television, directed, produced, and trained hundreds of aspiring actors. This husband, wife, and son represent some of the great talent that comprises the fabric of West Orange, and this is their story.
Gary Lynch was born in Rhode Island and is a long time theater actor. His breakthrough performance was as Jean Prouvaire (the flag bearing student) in the Broadway production of “Les Miserables” from 1991-1997. He also played alternate for Javert, the play’s antagonist. After his run on Broadway, Lynch worked in regional theater, taking his family on the road while performing in productions like “Mamma Mia!” They traveled to locations like Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.
When their son, Tyler, was 6, he told his parents he had enough of the road and wanted to ‘settle down and go to school in one place.” That placed turned out be West Orange, near West Orange High School, where they have two cats in the yard and a home in a constant state of renovation.
Lynch continued working in 4-5 short productions per year, acknowledging his appreciation for his agent and noting that “less than 2% of actor’s equity members work on Broadway.” He just completed a regional run of “Dirty Dancing: The Musical”, along with “Guys and Dolls” and has discovered his talent for teaching and directing at the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts in Bloomfield. “I’m also in a perpetual state of preparation,” he chuckled, saying how all actors have to be ready at any moment to audition. Lynch then shared his excitement for an upcoming directorial project of "Les Miserables" at Sage College in Troy, New York, with Craig Schulman, who worked with Lynch in "Les Miz" on Broadway playing Jean Valjean.
A little less than 20 years ago, Gary met Beth Baur, a blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty from Missouri while working in regional theater. After they married, Baur continued to work as an actress, doing mostly small theater productions and industrial and corporate commercials. Their son Tyler was born 17 years ago. While enjoying motherhood, Beth says of her acting and her work at that time “something was missing. I wasn’t that happy.”
In 2004, along with her partner Bob Sapoff, Baur hit the pavement and worked non-stop to create the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts in Bloomfield, NJ. The non-profit school, which began with 17 students, now has approximately 300, both adults and children, from all over New York and New Jersey. It is the only program like it in the state of New Jersey, and offers six levels of training along with a commitment to work with all potential students financially.
The NJSDA offers programs like Encore Youth Theatre; Kids on Stage; Class X; Black Box Theatre Company; and three top Improvisational Groups – Nutty by Nature, On the Spot, and Sparks of Insanity (a teen group). Baur also teaches at Memorial High School in West New York, in the Performing Arts Academy.
For an incredibly talented husband and wife team, this story could have ended here. But we have yet to tell the story of Tyler Lynch, their 17 year old son and up- and- coming performer in his own right.
At the age of 8, Tyler appeared in his first production called “Like a Child” at NJSDA. He continued performing in productions there and also appeared in musical productions at Edison and Liberty Middle Schools as well as West Orange High School. However, last year, Lynch had the unique opportunity to audition for a role in the Kidz Theatre production of “Les Miserables” in New York City. (Kidz Theatre was created by Kristen Caesar to provide an outlet for acting kids on Broadway and students at top schools like High School for the Performing Arts). To the amazement of Tyler and his parents, after four callbacks, he was ultimately cast as Marius Pontmercy, romantic interest of Cosette. Thus began Lynch’s journey into theater, which continued with train rides into the city for rehearsals and stints in Rent and Urinetown.
It was his performance as Mark Cohen in Rent, however, that just garnered Tyler Lynch a National Youth Leadership Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical in the Eastern Division. Lynch outperformed over 300 other youths to receive the award, which will be presented to him in the Bronx in the near future.
Lynch, entering senior year at West Orange High School, continues to perform and study at Kidz Theatre and NJSDA, and is looking at his options for college. However, he knows that despite the ups and downs of an actor’s life, that greasepaint appears to be in his blood, and with a smile, says ‘my passions rule me.’ For Gary, Beth Baur, and Tyler Lynch, it’s all in the family.
For more information on the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts, go to www.njactors.org.
For more information on the Kidz Theater, go to: www.kidztheater.org.