Andrick Siegmund found the stage at Ferndale High School and is still on it.
Before Andrick “Andy” Siegmund turned into a rhino in Detroit, he was a con man in Ferndale.
Before we go any further, we should note that he’s an actor; those were characters, and he’s not really a rhino or a con man.
Siegmund is a student in the theater program at Wayne State University. He’s pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has performed in leading roles in several productions including Ragtime, the Musical; Dunelawn; Comedy of Errors; Furnishings; Almost Maine; and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
He is also performing in the new Wayne State University Theatre production of Doubt, playing a priest who is accused of molesting students, which opened Friday.
Siegmund, a Ferndale native and 2007 Ferndale High School grad, started his path to the stage in the Ferndale High School auditorium.
It was in 10th grade. He got the role of Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man.
“I went to the theater department director, Linda Murley, to ask for a donation for the band, and she said, ‘I’ll donate if you and David Cardelli audition for the musical,” Siegmund recalled.
“I tried out and thought I was pretty good. That was when I started being drawn to theater. Next, I played Billy in Anything Goes, followed by Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.”
Murley has since retired from FHS, but she remembers Siegmund.
“(He) was a joy to work with because he wanted to dig into a character,” Murley recalled. “Andy was one of the students who wanted to work the whole process and feel the complete character.
“When we did Les Mis and Andy played Jean Valjean, he kept a journal about the character feelings, history and his general thoughts as rehearsals went along. He was the only student I know who has gone on in acting who kept any kind of a record or character development.”
Since his high school graduation, Murley has seen Siegmund in various performances. She said she’s been impressed.
“Andy is one of my former students who has a special place in my heart, not only because of his work ethic and talent, but because of his genuineness of spirit that I experienced while he was in high school,” she said.
During the summer, Siegmund acted in plays for Purple Onion Productions, a Ferndale-based theatrical company in which students wrote, directed and acted in their own original productions.
Siegmund said that between Ferndale High School and his summer activities, Ferndale had quite an effect on his life.
“I was born here and went to Ferndale schools. Ferndale provides a look on what the real world is like,” he said. “It is far more diverse than other places. You meet people from all walks of life. That was what prepared me most. I didn’t have any problem with a particular kind of person.”
After graduation, Siegmund continued acting, taking classes while attending Grand Valley State University, and he discovered “there’s a lot more work involved in acting.”
While he learned the basic techniques of acting at FHS, the creative process was a bit overwhelming, he said. He learned what to say and how to say it but was overwhelmed by the daunting task of creating characters on his own without being told every movement to make and emotion to feel by a director.
“At Grand Valley, I had to figure it out myself,” he said.
As a result, Siegmund decided to switch his major to biomedicine and then to political science. But during the summer of 2008, Siegmund said he had “a kind of a revelation.”
“There was a movie shoot in Ferndale on Leroy,” he said. “I checked it out. Michael Cera walked out of the house. It was very real for me. I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I be an actor?’ The next night, I decided I wanted to be an actor. I switched all my classes,” he said.
But there weren’t very many active productions at Grand Valley, Siegmund said.
“I transferred to WSU and have been very successful in getting roles,” he said. “It’s been a very uplifting experience. … If you’re serious about it, go for it.”
Since transferring, Siegmund has played a wide range of characters in several productions.
One of his favorite roles was in the production of Almost Maine.
“I was one of four actors playing five characters each,” he said. “It was probably the most fun I’ve had as an actor.
“I’ve been lucky getting roles,” Siegmund said. “I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do – act. Every opportunity to be in a play is more experience.”
He also transformed into a rhinoceros on stage. He was playing Jean, a character in Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. The WSU production is an “absurdist” play in which characters face the decision of whether to become a member of the herd or to assert their own individuality.
“My character turns into a rhino on stage — a part that is quite taxing on physical strength and energy,” he said.
Asked what his dream role would be, Siegmund said, “I like plays with deep underlying meaning versus those just for entertainment. The movie Garden State with Zach Braff shows a person coming of age, figuring things out.”
That’s something, it seems, Siegmund has already done.
John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” plays through Saturday at WSU’s Studio Theatre in Detroit. For more information and to buy tickets, go to wsustudio.com or call 313-577-2960.