Recently, Camp alumnus Barrett Foa established the Barrett Foa Musical Theatre Scholarship. It will be given annually to a high school camper studying musical theatre who shows strong potential for growth. “Crescendo” asked Barrett to share his thoughts about establishing the scholarship and how his own Interlochen experience has shaped his life and career so far.
Q: Why did you decide to invest in a scholarship at Interlochen?
I'm interested in helping the shy kid in the corner, who happens to have a killer voice. I'm hoping this scholarship will give him or her the confidence to stand up and take center stage. While at Interlochen, I was not a star. Sure, I had a few featured parts in the plays, musicals, and operettas, but I never really broke out. I was constantly told that I had tons of potential, but that I wasn't living up to it. I was eeking by on my natural (yet modest) talents.
Looking back, I think about how much it would have meant to me if a mentor had sat me down and said, "Look kid, we want to give you this scholarship because we think there is something special and untapped about you. Now go home, work hard, and come back next summer and blow us away." I think I would have felt a responsibility to shape up, get focused, and break out of my shell a bit. That's the kind of passion I'm trying to ignite with this scholarship.
Q: What did you take away from your Interlochen experience?
Before Interlochen, the arts were a hobby; a fun, non-athletic, after-school activity that kept me busy and helped me get a little attention. When I arrived at Interlochen, I realized I was now in a different league. Arts for Interlochen kids were no hobby; they were air, water, life itself. Sure, there were students into musical theatre like me, but I was suddenly surrounded by opera arias, clarinet concertos, Shakespearian monologues - kids were locking themselves in practice rooms for hours until they perfected that riff, that melisma, that cadenza, that moment. It was completely above and beyond me, but I was hooked.
I owe a lot to Interlochen. It instilled the passion and the drive that I feel toward my craft and my business. Finally, I was surrounded by people who were obsessed with something that no else back home even understood. I got excited and I got voracious. "Other weirdos like me!" I still carry that hunger inside me to this day.
Barrett Foa can be seen each week on the hit CBS drama, “NCIS: Los Angeles” as tech operator Eric Beale. Currently in its third season, the crime procedural also stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, and Academy Award-winner Linda Hunt, who happens to be an Interlochen alumna. Foa has also recently appeared on “Numb3rs” and “The Closer,” the original “NCIS” and “Entourage.” Prior to his Hollywood career, Foa starred on Broadway in “Avenue Q” as Princeton / Rod, and in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” as Leaf Coneybear. He was featured in the original Broadway cast “Mamma Mia!” and can be heard on the 20th anniversary cast recording of “Godspell” as the voice of Jesus. He has also played many leading roles in both plays and musicals off-Broadway and in regional theatre.