Alum spotlight: Max Ehrlich (BFA ’15)

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Max Ehrlich, BFA 2015, Performance

Even though Max was active at VCU, especially in SALT (Shafer Alliance Lab Theatre), his acting career actually took off before graduation. Gary Hopper, retired acting teacher,  was directing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike for Company of Fools in Idaho and he cast Max as Spike right out of college. 

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Max (center) as Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Company of Fools)

During school Max attended the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions and was offered a role in the non-union tour of Mamma Mia as Eddie. He started that immediately after Vanya closed. When it played the Altria Theatre in Richmond (known as The Mosque to older grads), he recalls, “It was a nutso experience to be walking across that same stage where I had graduated.”

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Max (center) as Eddie in Mamma Mia

After the tour closed, he went to NYC for month and got booked for the Lincoln Center Tour of The King and I as understudy for Lun Tha. He went on for “about 12 times,” but the coolest one was when his parents came to see the show in Nashville.

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Max (right) going on for Lun Tha in The King and I (First national Tour)

His resume continued with the first national tour of Miss Saigon, followed by the tour of Aladdin. He was on that for a year, until the shutdown ended the show in Austin, Texas. After a few months back home in Centreville, Virginia, he found a place back in New York.  “It was crazy, but I think New York is doing it right and everyone is abiding by the rules, and right now I feel very safe.”

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Max as Ensemble/Aladdin/Kassim in Aladdin (1st National Tour)

He actually had a six month contract on the Broadway version of Aladdin, but COVID also put a stop to that. While waiting for everything to open up, Max is working out a lot and finding other creative outlets. Classmate Jess Rawls (’15), who’s head manager at Actors Connection (one of the biggest providers for classes and ways to meet agents in New York), “needed hosts for the online classes and offered it to me. It’s also been a great way to meet casting directors.”

Looking back to VCU, “I still go through my notes, which came in handy, especially on tour. Doing the same part for two years, eight shows a week teaches you to rely on technique and the technique they taught was strong.” He and some of his classmates regularly stay in touch and “lift each other up. It’s a special bond.”

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Max (far right) as Pedro in Man of La Mancha at VCU, 2014
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Max (top left) and VCU Theatre Class of 2015 Senior Showcase

Written by Liz Hopper (Emeritus Faculty) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the October 2020 Theatre Alumni Newsletter