julian decker 2

I’ve known Julian Decker for a few years, having first seen him on stage, impressively performing the role of Jean Valjean in a college production of Les Miserables.

Since then, Julian moved to New York City and has worked pretty steadily both regionally and on Broadway, where he is still playing (as of this writing) a featured role in his third musical, Sunset Boulevard.

Along with other young artists, Julian was asked by me to provide some comments on the transition from student to professional. Here are some of his words.

julian Decker 


After Sunset Boulevard closes, I will continue to set goals for myself that drive me, inspire me, and teach me. I know I’ll find more growth as a person and as a performer. After all that is why I do what I do.

My transition to The City after graduating CCM* was trying. It was also filled with blessings. While at CCM my entire world had been turned upside down in the best way possible. The faculty gave me generous opportunities and took a huge risk on me: a frightened youngster who had no insights into the world that he was attempting to be a part of.

CCM changed me as a person. I was surrounded by some of the most brilliant humans I had ever come in contact with, and I couldn’t help but work my butt off. Over four years I grew steadily, and continued to be challenged by my teachers. For the first time in my life I was able to call a single place home. That place was Cincinnati and its College Conservatory of Music.

No one can actually prepare one for the transition into adulthood, especially when one makes the decision to go into a career where one may never get to be on Broadway, let alone be able to pay one’s share of the monthly rent. But I was very lucky in that I had my first NYC audition the Friday after the April Showcase ** and then booked a gig three weeks later. I was about to understudy my dream role, Quasimodo in the US premier of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The downside to that was to make a living while I waited for a show that started rehearsals in September.

Every interview I went on was a success until I said that I had an acting job that I’d be leaving for come September! This was the first time in my life that I didn’t have some sort of schedule. I found myself helping my best friend to create a company that now, three years later is growing rapidly. We got an apartment and began settling down, but at the same time I was finding myself on a downward spiral. I had spent four years in a rigorous training program where I had a schedule each day of the week. In NYC I didn’t. I’d stay out till 4, wake up at 3 and repeat that routine day after day. I began to realize that I was relying on partying and drinking to be happy. I found myself feeling depressed, and I had never felt what depression was like. I had zero idea about how to deal with things other than by drinking and surrounding myself with friends that seemed to bring me happiness. Some days my innate instinct for hustling would kick in, and I’d make great progress and feel good. But the bad days outweighed the good ones.

Navigating all of this and adapting to a completely new environment continued to challenge me. It took about a year and a half, for all of it to pass. I was doing well and then the Hunchback cast found out that the show wouldn’t transfer to Broadway. That was an extremely sad day for all of us. I couldn’t understand how you could spend almost a year of your life working on something so unique and special, with audiences that leaped up to their feet at the end of the shows, and still not be good enough for Broadway. I was doing great work in my auditions but I remained in my depression slump.

It wasn’t until my boss at the company I was working for sat me down and said, What is the deal? You have so much potential…but your heart and determination are lacking, both here and in your art. You need to choose a focus. Make a 1-2-3 LIST in order of importance.

I had to make money so that became my number 1. I had to keep the dream alive while working a job, so that was number 2. My relationship with my beautiful Katie became number 3. The day after the talk with my boss I got another regular job, and on the first day of employment I found out that I had been cast in Les Miz.

I couldn’t believe how it all played out: it was completely unexpected. I had an idea of what it would be like, and it couldn’t have fallen more short of my expectations. I realized that early on, and I allowed myself to focus on learning from the bad experience as opposed to letting it bring me down. I focused on getting my body in shape. I also focused on making positive connections with my colleagues. That paid off because I had never laughed so much in my life. The backstage antics were crazy.

I started to focus on my career as an actor. Whether I got the job or not, it was the process that mattered. I began getting my self worth back. I stayed in Les Miz for 9 months and then had an opportunity to go to work on a new version of Hunchback where I’d be playing Quasimodo this time. It was hard to make a decision because the voice in my head was saying “You’ll never get another Broadway show! You have to stay!” The company was made up of folks that had done Les Miz consistently for 7 years. I knew that I wanted to take control over my career so I said yes to the new gig. A few months later I found myself in Utah.

I grew as an actor. I was bringing ideas that had given me sleepless nights for over a year to my version of Quasimodo! I morphed my body so that I could really dive into the role physically, emotionally, and mentally in 100 degree weather. I loved the journey and it changed me as a person. I started to see the world and my career differently. When I came back to NYC after that contract I felt at home again. Then I was cast in Sunset Boulevard, which will be closing its NYC run in a few weeks.

It has been an incredible experience being in that show. Glenn Close has taught me many valuable lessons not just as a performer but as a human being. She has taught me how to be the leader of a company and how to grace the stage with ease and class. I continue to find growth in everything I do and in every good or bad choice I make. So much in this business is a waiting game. The NO‘s don’t really bother me much anymore because for every no there will be a yes, and as long as I’m doing good work and making the people I love proud, I am proud.

After Sunset Boulevard closes, I will continue to set goals for myself that drive me, inspire me, and teach me. I know I’ll find more growth as a person and as a performer. After all that is why I do what I do.

Julian Decker, actor, vocalist

https://youtu.be/Mu-gKpdlmqQ Julian Decker sings Bring Him Home from Les Miz

* University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music *

* Annual Musical Theatre Showcase held by CCM in NYC for agents and casting directors to see the work of the graduating CCM Musical Theatre class.


  1. Hi,Raphael,

    I have been enjoying your classes as always, and I hope your maladies get cured soon.

    I am writing to see if you know anything about see operas in movie theaters. A year or two ago, my wife and I saw an opera at Kenwood theater on a Sunday afternoon.

    I have tried sporadically without any success.

    Thank you for reading this, and I hope you’ll be able to help. Sincerely,

    Paul Nidich > > >


    1. Thanks for your good wishes – I am on the mend! Go to http://www.metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas.com and you will be able to see the schedule for next year. WE usually go the Cinemark in Oakley. The Kenwood Cinema runs some opera, Shakespeare and ballet periodically but I have never been able to tap into a proper schedule from them. This summer the Cincinnati Opera is showing three very interesting operas: The Magic Flute, La boheme, and Frida. See you in class.


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