by Lorie Lewis Ham
This Valley is filled with an amazing amount of creative talent and every now and then we like to give our readers a chance to get to know some of that talent offstage. This week we are profiling one of the younger actors in Fresno, Tyler Branco. You may have seen this 22-year-old actor’s wonderful performance as Shrek, in Shrek the Musical at Roger Rocka’s, and later this year you will get to see him there in West Side Story and Addam’s Family.
Tyler was born and raised in Clovis and attended Buchanan High School. While in high school, he was a percussionist and would do competitive shows at the San Joaquin Valley Color Guard and Percussion Review. One year he was asked to narrate a show and enjoyed it so much that during his junior year he joined the drama department, and the rest as they say is history. “From there I fell in love with theatre, and the band stuff sort of fell to the wayside.”
His first part was in a student directed show at Buchanan called No Sex Please, We’re British! Most of his post high school theatre experience has been with Good Company Players. He has been Lt. Frank Chioffi in Curtains, Shrek in Shrek The Musical, Igor (pronounced Eye-gor) in Young Frankenstein, and most recently as Clown #1 in 39 Steps. “I’ve also performed with Artists’ Repertory Theater in The Rocky Horror Show as a phantom.”
Not one for dark and depressing shows, Tyler’s favorite shows tend to be on the comedic side, which is something he does very well. What he likes best about theatre is making other people happy. “It sounds like a Miss America answer, but I love making people laugh and forget about their lives for a while.
“The hardest thing about acting for me is getting to those more vulnerable emotional states. Putting yourself into a bad mood every night can be pretty taxing, and takes a while to learn how to control.”
Tyler feels like he’s learned the most from working with directors and actors who are better than he is. “You can learn so much just from watching somebody else work, it’s fantastic.” Three local actors he feels like he has learned a great deal from, and always enjoys working with, are Dan Pessano, Peter Allwine, and Gordon Moore.
Peter Allwine has also enjoyed working with Tyler. “Tyler is one of the most dedicated performers I have had the pleasure of working with. Starting with Wedding Singer as my best friend, through Curtains, I have been lucky to watch Ty grow as an actor and really capture the spotlight he well deserves. He’s an insanely talented actor, but also a good friend. If I know Ty is gonna be working on a show with me, I know we are gonna have fun, and it’s gonna be a great show.”
“Tyler is fantastic to work with – he does his homework, he eagerly accepts direction and he is talented,” shared local director Elizabeth Fiester. “It has been a pleasure to watch Tyler mature in to the bigger roles and to watch him sharpen his technique and skills. When I first worked with Tyler he was cast in a pretty big role in The Wedding Singer and then he spent a number of years in the ensemble – a sort of ‘beginners luck’ and then you have to ‘pay your dues.’ I never noticed or heard Tyler complain or pout about that, he just seemed to jump in with both feet no matter the project and no matter the size of the role.”
In playing Shrek, Tyler has already been lucky enough to have played one of his dream roles. “I loved playing Shrek, and would love to play him again if I get the chance. He’s different because he’s this big green monster, but on the inside he’s just as human as any of us. I also really enjoyed taking pictures and signing autographs with kids after the show. They were so excited to meet Shrek and Fiona. It was so adorable!”
“Tyler has grown into such a strong performer since his start with GCP,” shared Emily Pessano, who played Fiona to Tyler’s Shrek. “He’s completely reliable and willing to help in any way necessary to promote the show. He is also a kind friend and someone fun to work with onstage and backstage. Tyler is just the kind of guy you like having around.”
Another of Tyler’s dream roles was playing Igor. For the rest he says he will have to wait until he’s older. “I’d love to play Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady or Harold Hill in The Music Man, but I’m a little too young for either of them.”
During his rare free time between balancing theatre and school, Tyler has taught himself to play the guitar, enjoys painting, and riding his bike. After he gets his Bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, he plans to take a year and audition for tours, cruises, Disney, or pretty much anywhere else that will take him. “If I haven’t gotten anything after that year I’m going to get my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.”
Coming up next for Tyler this summer and fall are West Side Story and Addams Family. “I am cast as Action in West Side Story and Gomez in The Addams Family. I’m incredibly excited and scared to work on West Side, dancing isn’t my strongest suit, and this show has a ton of dancing in it. And I’m so honored to be cast as Gomez in the Addams Family. It’s a show I love and our cast is going to be fantastic! Both of these shows are going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I’m excited to get going on them!”
For those interested in theatre, Tyler advises them to work hard, train hard, and don’t take anything personally. “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.”
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.