Arts & Entertainment

West Orange High School Alumni Starring in “Amazing Grace” on Broadway

West Orange High School Alumni Starring in “Amazing Grace” on Broadway Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Mike Evariste, former West Orange resident and alumnus of Hazel, Roosevelt, and West Orange High Schools, is starring in the Ensemble Cast of “Amazing Grace,” opening on Broadway on July 16.

“Amazing Grace” tells the story of John Newton, an 18th Century Englishman who worked in his family business – the slave trade, and how he ultimately became an abolitionist preacher and penned the iconic spiritual, “Amazing Grace,” in 1779.

Evariste and his family lived in West Orange until 2001, moving back to Florida after completing his sophomore year at West Orange High School.

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“I loved my high school experience,” said Evariste.

“During that time in my life I was very focused on being a trumpet player,” he said. “When I was 10 years old I was accepted into the Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program. I went to Juilliard for five years up until my family made the move to Boca Raton, Florida.”

“I was in the marching band my freshman year when we took First Place at our National Championships for our division,” said Evariste. “Ironically, our theme was “Les Miserables” and I also made my Broadway debut in "Les Miserables" as Montparnasse. I was in the chorus, jazz band, concert band and performed in the WOHS 2000 Spring Musical, “Evita,” and in the 2001 production of “Anything Goes.” 

Evariste’s passion for theater grew, and in addition to “Les Miserables,” he has appeared on Broadway in “South Pacific,” “Hair,” “Disgraced,” and now in the original musical, “Amazing Grace.” Tours included “Fame,” “Rent,” and “The Book of Mormon.”

Evariste said he still has “a ton of family and friends” who live in West Orange. He currently resides in South Harlem with his wife Tiffany several blocks north of Central Park North.

When asked what advice he could offer to aspiring actors, Evariste said, “Continue to train. Take voice lessons and utilize vocal coaches to work on material for auditions/ callbacks. Take dance and acting classes.”

He added, “Whatever song you sing at auditions, make sure it's a song you absolutely love to sing. Every song in your book should be a song you know inside and out. If you are truly connected to the song and truly genuine, then that's what will make you stand out and at least, hopefully, get you a callback. Getting a callback is what you aim for. The rest is out of your control.”

“Be nice and respectful to everyone you work with in this business,” he added. “It's a very small circle and everyone knows everyone. You never know who you're talking to.”

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