Alumnus to star in Broadway tour

Addie McNamara, Author

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Big dreams, hard work and good intentions are Alex Nee’s recommendations for Palo Alto High School’s blossoming theater stars.

Nee, a member of the Paly Class of 2009, will play the lead role in the Broadway tour of “American Idiot,” beginning on Oct.9 in the United Kingdom.

“Dream big and really focus on making those dreams come true,” Nee said. “Do it because you love the work, not because you want to be famous. You can pretty much always find a way to practice your craft, and this in itself should be fulfilling.”

Nee will tackle the leading role of Johnny in the musical, which “tells the story of three lifelong friends forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia,” according to the tour’s website. The tour, which will travel across the United States and the United Kingdom, will be at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose from June 4 to June 9. Nee told The Paly Voice he was selected for the part after being discovered by the casting director during his performance in Northwestern University’s production of “RENT.”

“The casting director for ‘American Idiot’ was in Chicago casting ‘Anything Goes,’ but happened to see ‘RENT,'” Nee said. “He asked a few of us to come audition for him the next morning. … I ended up doing three rounds of callbacks in New York City, culminating in a week-long workshop of the show. After the workshop they finally decided to cast me.”

According to Nee, his experience at Paly influenced his future success in theater.

“Paly gave me confidence and definitely fostered my love for theater,” Nee said. “So even though I’ve obviously faced rejection, I knew that I could succeed and I was willing to keep trying.”

Paly theater teacher Kathleen Woods, who had Nee as a student for two years, commented on Nee’s adaptability on and off stage.

“Alex was extraordinary,” Woods said. “He was very versatile. He could do a whole range of performance. … In addition to that, he was just really fun to be around.”

Woods added that she looks forward to seeing Nee perform.

“I know he’s going to do a tremendous job with the show,” Woods said.

Nee describes the preparation process for the show’s debut as challenging, but rewarding.

“I love a good challenge, so I’ve really loved getting to tackle this beast and try to make it my own,” Nee said.

Despite his international success, Nee also plans on keeping in touch with the Paly community.

“Since leaving Paly, I’ve always loved to come back and visit when I’m in town,” Nee said. “I definitely plan on continuing these visits when possible.”