Local rising Broadway star returns to Bay Ridge to teach young actors

A rising Broadway star has returned to his Bay Ridge roots.

Twenty-six-year-old Bay Ridge native Jason Gotay has experienced success in his pursuit of acting. Years after honing his skills in various venues such as Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Bishop Kearney drama club, he appeared in the Broadway adaptation of “Bring it On” and “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark.” He received another big break last year, when he was in NBC’s live telecast “Peter Pan Live!” where he played the character of Tootles.

“I have wanted to be actor ever since I was 10 years old. Fifteen years later and I feel very lucky so far,” he said. “I was been fortunate to get a part in ‘Peter Pan Live.’ I worked really hard and it felt great to be given the opportunity by people who believe in talents. It’s exciting to achieve that dream.”

But, it hasn’t gone to his head. Gotay decided to return to his roots and try to pass on his knowledge to young actors in the Narrows Community Theater by directing.

“After I did ‘Bring It On,’ I wanted to try to teach. I knew people (at NCT) and proposed to teach for six weeks with kids from the NCT,” he said. “I then continued to teach workshops there.”

Last summer, the opportunity arose for Gotay to direct his first musical, “Shrek.”

Although it was the first time he had directed a full length musical, Gotay’s background in teaching – including a stint at Poly Prep as a counselor and assistant director — gave him the motivation to try it.

“It began as something that I knew I would be good at because I had experience in the area as well,” he said. “I love teaching these kids and introducing them to theater musicals for the first time and building their foundation. I felt that I could bring what I learned in my professional life back to my neighborhood.”

Gotay looks back fondly on his directorial debut with NCT. “’Shrek’ was incredible,” he said. “It was more challenging than I anticipated. What surprised me most is when you’re directing theater, you’re also taking care of set design, costumes, props. There was extra responsibility that I didn’t anticipate. It was a learning curve being involved with the entire production.”

Despite the challenges, the process was well worth it for Gotay who returned this year to direct NCT’S “Seussical: The Musical.” “To create something with kids where they could learn and be challenged, it’s exciting,” he enthused. “The kids have been amazing.”

Gotay still considers himself an actor and looks forward to future roles. “I’m prioritizing performing. I’ve made a lot of headway there,” he said, noting his favorite moment in his early career was working on “Bring It On.” “It was the biggest highlight. It was based on the film but I got to bring my own creative voice to the character.”

Gotay still has a strong desire to work with aspiring actors and offers keen advice. “Keep pursuing any and all performing opportunities,” he urged. “Be on the lookout to perform, learn and be yourself and embrace what makes you special.”

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