Performance Coach Trapper Felides on Coaching ‘The Next Big Thing’

Photo Source: Oxygen

“Casting directors look at these kids like they have the gift from God but talent is largely created,” declares vocal performance coach and star maker, Trapper Felides, whose new reality show, “The Next Big Thing: NY,” reveals his formula for success in the entertainment industry. “It’s really about finding that spark. It’s about the ‘It’ Factor.”

Felides says working hard, using industry connections, and spending money to pay for coaches that give clients a clear advantage in the audition process. “How are you going to know how to perform in an audition better than the kid who gets coached by someone like me? There’s no way. It’s impossible.”

The series, which will premiere on June 12 on Oxygen, follows Felides and his team of professionals, including voice teacher Badiene Magaziner, as they prepare clients for their next audition or their big break into the music industry. True to his honest, no nonsense approach, Felides believes “the reason people don’t make it [in the entertainment business] is that either they shouldn’t have bothered trying or they’re lazy.”

“The Next Big Thing: NY” is “truly a day in my life and follows performers who haven’t quite made it yet,” explains Felides, who has more than 400 clients, including cast members of “Billy Elliot,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King,” and “The Book of Mormon.” “If we are following an audition, it’s a real audition. If there is drama, it’s because it happened.”

“There is a difference between a hobbyist and a professional,” he continues. “By the time someone gets to me, they are already a professional kid and it’s my job to resource them into a successful performer.” “The Next Big Thing: NY” features clients from as young as a 10-year-old ‘Broadway girl’ to young adults who have found measured success in the industry. “We don’t have anyone [on the show] who is plucked from the middle of the country that doesn’t ultimately have a place in this business,” says Felides. “Everyone is a tight package. The show is about: What’s next? What is going to put them on the map?”

The “It” Factor is just the beginning. Felides can stand at the back of a room and pick the performers who have ‘It’ from a chorus line. “I don’t necessarily care what your singing voice is, as long as you can match pitch and have some interesting qualities to the way you sing, I can make you work as a singer.”

If you have “It,” money buys access to coaches who are able to provide clients with such vital information as what each casting director is looking for or industry trends. “If you are going to music theater auditions, 65 percent of the time now, they’re asking for a pop song,” says Felides who doesn’t “train someone to pick a focal point and stand there with their arms to their sides because that is not what’s trending.”

Magaziner says competition is tough. “Everyone now has to be a total triple threat,” she explains. She expects clients to have discipline, which for teenagers can be difficult. “Performers have to look at themselves as athletes preparing for the Olympics. They only have 16 or 32 bars to ‘jump higher’ than anyone else!”

Felides acknowledges that developing talent and preparing for and traveling to auditions is expensive and refuses to work with clients who are living beyond their means. Either a child performer finds success earlier in their career, or they “come from a pretty well off, resourceful family who has tapped into markets,” he says. “As much as people can pussy foot around that in this business, the people who go the farthest, come from money. Period. And if you pay enough to work with me and come to me every day, I’m going to make you good.”

The entertainment industry has developed a “mythology around discovering talent,” acknowledges Felides. “Where are you discovering them from?” Felides asks rhetorically. “You’re discovering them from a casting room in New York City from a high-end manager who just hasn’t booked them the huge gig yet.”

“The more resumed kid works because it’s not a risk,” he adds. In casting, you can’t just make assumptions, explains Felides, who uses the casting of the new Broadway production of “Annie” as a perfect example.

“You have a multi-million dollar production that sits on an 11 year old shoulders,” he says. “You can’t just assume that in plucking someone from obscurity that they are going to have the work ethic, that their voice is going to hold up for eight performances a week, that they know how to be an adult in the rehearsal room. As much as they try to do this whole national casting, that’s just PR. It’s only PR.”