Christian Dorey (Photo by Ariana Magana)
California School of the Arts

The right kind of motivation

Although known for his lead in the school musical “Pippin” and by his outgoing personality, Christian Dorey, a sophomore in the Musical Theater Conservatory at the California School of the Arts was once a completely different person. With his friendly hugs and high spirit, it would be difficult to recognize Dorey from just a couple of years ago as the introvert with failing grades who was kicked out of Carpenter Community Charter School because of forgery.

“When you got bad grades, your teacher would send a note to your parents to sign. I decided to open the envelope and sign it myself,” Dorey recalled. “With pencil.

It wasn’t until middle school, did Dorey discover a passion in musical theater that motivated him to do well in school,  Since the age of five, Dorey knew he wanted to be a performer since he was five. For him, it started with sitting in front of the TV watching “The Suite Life with Zach and Cody.” His mom signed him up for Abrams Artist Agency after Dorey pointed to the screen and said, “I want to do that.”

Although Dorey had his eyes set for a future behind the camera, his middle school theater teacher, Ms. Woods, made him audition for a role in their school musical, Suessical. Little did he know that he would be cast as Jojo, a main character, and how that one performance became a turning point in his life.

“In performing, you feel this connection with your audience. In theater, you can see the faces of the audience and their reactions, and I also loved the entire journey from auditions to the first read through, and to the opening night of the show,” Dorey said.

However, for Dorey to continue in his passion of performing on stage, he would have to come to terms with his bad grades, because the school wouldn’t allow him to audition for a part if his grades were too low.

“As an African American and raised by a single mom, it gave me this determination to raise my grades and just do it for my mom,” Dorey explained. “My mom has sacrificed so much for me by moving and changing jobs so I can make a difference for us.”   

Since then, Dorey has worked hard to gain the strong vocals he possesses today by what he likes to call, “singing in the bathroom for seven years.”

(Photo provided by Christian Dorey)

Now at CSArts, he found CSArt’s all-school school musical “Pippin” which he found especially challenging because of the manipulative antagonist he was playing.  Performing with the Pros with David Burnham, and The Merry Lives of Windsor High, CSArt’s first incubator project which is an original show that is being work-shopped this year.

“When you are in a show, try your best to not party before the night before,” Dorey said. “You’ll be sluggish the next day. Rest your body and connect with the character you are trying to convey to the audience.”

Not only has CSArts provided Dorey with opportunities to take on roles in their own productions but also “so many tools and techniques, [It]changed the way I carry myself. I was very introverted, and this school has opened up my shell fully.”

(Photo provided by Christian Dorey)

Dorey is very excited to audition for CSArts’s next musical “Newsies.” Yes, excited. He’s not nervous as many other performers would be. For one, he practices a week before with an accompanist where he makes sense of all the words and the role. In addition, nerves to Dorey is not something to be scared of.

“Nerves is just a different kind of excitement. It can be whatever you want them to be. If you think of nerves as fear then they will be fear,” Dorey explained. “You need to know that you’re there for a reason, and you’re good enough to be there.”