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Eric Gelb | Almost Famous

Eric Gelb | Almost Famous
(Photograph by Katie Peurrung)

How do you turn into well-liked at NYU? Highschool is over and there’s no homecoming to solidify your home within the social hierarchy. At a college with over 25,000 undergraduates, it’s not a simple feat to have various handfuls of individuals know your identify.

However one way or the other, Eric Gelb has finished it.

I don’t have the numbers to show it, however I might argue that for those who’re a part of the Class of 2020 and you’ve got a Fb, you in all probability know Eric. He virtually has B-list superstar standing — slightly below probably the most lionized social activists and Clive Davis starlets. Eric’s starring position has been on the NYU Class of 2020 Fb group.

Even previous to coming to NYU, Eric could possibly be discovered within the feedback or authoring posts. The posts diversified from how grateful he was to go to NYU, the seek for fellow class members and memes that includes himself. He even has a Twitter web page devoted to his meme-ability. He additionally promoted his self-published e-book, “Growing Up in the Wings,” a memoir he wrote his senior yr of highschool as a response to his lack of recognition from school members. One member even joked Eric’s e-book was the required summer time studying for incoming CAS college students.

“Last day of school, I handed it to my principle, never looking back,” Eric proudly informed me.

This was Eric earlier than NYU, when he was nonetheless in his hometown of Huntington Woods, Michigan. Eric’s mother and father, two white psychologists from New York, adopted him in Hanoi, Vietnam when he was an toddler. All through his childhood, Eric’s life revolved round theater. He acted (though he says he wasn’t that good at it) in an area theater group, Challenge DayDream, and even co-directed his personal present, “Project X the Musical,” together with his childhood greatest good friend, Ryan Hurley, a junior at Juilliard. The thought happened of their seventh-grade fitness center class, Hurley wrote in an e mail, once they determined to put in writing their very own musical carried out at their native library’s basement. Along with writing a majority of the script, Eric costumed the present, ran its Fb web page, contacted newspapers, discovered further venues for his or her present to play in, made set items, funded most of it by himself, amongst different issues.

“When you produce a musical at 13, you don’t have a producer or a lighting designer to work with — you are all of those things. It’s you, a couple of parents, and as many friends as you can rustle up,” Hurley stated.

Eric Gelb evaluations the forged’ efficiency after the rehearsal. “I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I’d be off without it,” says Gelb as he was requested his relationship with the theatre. (Photograph by Tony Wu)

The stage gave him the chance to symbolize himself and present that folks of colour can be middle stage.

“I’m not your typical Asian kid,” Eric stated. “I look Asian, but most of the connection I have to Vietnam is through my appearance. Coming to NYU, I definitely started to see more importance in honing in on my identity. I work on that through theater as well, trying to give people of color more opportunities. Our stories matter too.”

In highschool, Eric co-founded Magical Reminiscences Leisure, which “offers magical and authentic Prince and Princess Entertainment for the Metro Detroit area” in accordance with its Fb web page, and carried out as its resident prince charming. However he says probably the most enriching expertise was with Undertaking DayDream.

“Project DayDream is where I really learned about the ins and outs of theater,” Eric stated. “I got to do everything from acting to producing to directing.”

Now, the Steinhardt junior has settled in — into Steinhardt’s Instructional Theatre division and his Second Road dorm room — however he by no means settles for lengthy. He’ll quickly transfer out to turn out to be a spring semester resident assistant in Third North Residence Corridor. Eric calls himself a “constant mover.” All of his belongings match into two giant suitcases and a carry-on. This previous summer time, after numerous purposes, Eric discovered himself with no internship prospects after being a stage administration intern for “Wicked” final spring.

“I had just finished up ‘Wicked,’” he stated, his “Wicked”- emblazoned sweatshirt slung over the seat beside him. “And there was nothing. Nothing. I really thought I was going to get something; I was just on ‘Wicked’ for crying out loud.”

Eric Gelb chats together with his colleagues throughout a rehearsal of NYU Lamplighters’ “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”. Gelb dedicates about 25 to 30 hours every week to the present. (Photograph by Tony Wu)

Like one thing out of “Waitress,” Eric packed up his luggage and located himself in Macon, Missouri, working at Maples Repertory Theatre and serving cobblers to native theatergoers. Every night time, he hung up his apron and made his approach again to the home the place he stayed with locals. Moderately than sitting up watching YouTube — one thing Eric sometimes does now to wind down — or hanging out with pals — he didn’t have many there — he’d spend time looking for individuals he might ask for cash from.

Earlier than Eric left for Missouri, Kayla Greenspan, who interviewed Eric for a producing internship at TBD Theatricals, turned him down for the internship however informed him that he might have a shot at being a producer for “Head Over Heels,” the 2018 revival of the Go Go’s jukebox Broadway musical. He simply needed to increase $50,000 in lower than three months to develop into a producer for the present.

After a summer time of isolation and lots of telephone calls later, Eric returned to New York for “Head Over Heels” three weeks after opening night time to seek out his identify listed amongst different high-profile creatives, like Goop founder and actress Gwyneth Paltrow and expertise agent Rick Ferrari.

“I said if I didn’t make my Broadway debut by 26, I’d leave the theater world and reevaluate,” Eric beams. “I’ve done it at 20.”

However as a producer, Eric’s sole job is to boost cash so the present can go on; he’s raised the cash, now his identify sits on the poster. Returning to NYU this Fall a Broadway producer, Eric was again to the theater — this time because the director for “Legally Blonde: The Musical” for NYU Lamplighters, a theater membership devoted to producing theater for younger audiences. He sits on the Lamplighters’ government board as particular occasions coordinator. As director, Eric devoted about 25 to 30 hours every week to the present.

Eric Gelb helps to regulate a forged member’s wig throughout a rehearsal of NYU Lamplighters’ “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” NYU Lamplighters is a theater membership devoted to producing theatre for younger audiences, on whose government board Gelb sits as Particular Occasions Coordinator. (Photograph by Tony Wu)

Eric says directing “Legally Blonde” is one thing he will get to do, not one thing he has to do in contrast to the annual winter cabaret, a requirement of the particular occasions coordinator. This yr’s cabaret might be “Mamma Mia!” which went straight into rehearsals after “Legally Blonde” closed on Nov. 18. In basic Eric Gelb style, he turned to the NYU Class of 2020 Fb web page to let the general public determine what the present can be though every of his posts hinted at him wanting it to be “Mamma Mia!”

“I came up with that idea, and I thought it’d be really fun to ask the community,” Eric says. “Theater is a community.”

When Eric takes off his director’s hat, he turns into his pals’ number-one advocate. He retains a spreadsheet of all his buddies’ upcoming occasions and birthdays so he by no means misses one.

“I try to make those days important to me, and they’re important to them,” he stated. Eric dovetails his sentences with “I think people like me,” acknowledging that some individuals may discover him and his social media presence annoying, however he all the time exhibits up for his associates regardless of his jester-like notion.

“He’s super open and loving and will accept you for you. I vent to him all the time about relationships, theater, class, friends, you name it, he’s heard it from me,” Emma Burnham, a fellow Steinhardt Instructional Theatre junior, advised me in a Fb message.

Eric Gelb evaluations the forged’s efficiency after the rehearsal. “I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I’d be off without it,” says Gelb as he was requested his relationship with the theatre. (Photograph by Tony Wu)

However Eric isn’t all the time this flamboyant, outspoken particular person. He typically retains to himself, strolling canine or retreating to his room on weekends as a result of he doesn’t drink or do medicine and prefers to not be round that setting.

“I’m not really into that scene,” Eric stated. “I amuse myself in other types of ways like buying $20-worth of Taco Bell and having people over to my house if I randomly don’t have something to do on a Friday night.”

To accompany his Taco Bell feast, Eric tabs by way of movies of YouTubers like Trisha Paytas, Colleen Ballinger (referred to as Miranda Sings) and JoJo Siwa.

“Watching those videos, it’s like getting to know someone but in hyperdrive, and getting to know people and studying them is something I really enjoy, but I don’t enjoy how long it takes,” Eric explains.

Theater provides him the identical feeling — he will get to chop straight to the inside psyche of his forged to study their respective habits and ticks. Like his mother and father, Eric loves psychology however with out all of the “science stuff.” He loves the psychology of theater and connecting with individuals and audiences on stage; it explains his love for guiding.

Clutching his pillow, Eric tells me theater is all he has. “I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I’d be off without it.” He transitions to paraphrasing a quote by Abby Lee Miller of “Dance Moms.” “When you’re not doing what you love, you should be doing activities about that thing so you can get better at it. If you really like something that much, you should dedicate your entire life.”

It’s been three years since I first noticed Eric Gelb’s identify, however one thing tells me it gained’t be the final.

E-mail Pamela Jew at [email protected]