If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing a career on Broadway, I suggest you read The Only Boy Who Danced available at Author House. A Journey from Oklahoma to Broadway and Beyond with Ronald Young captures the enthusiasm, the challenges, the joys, the let downs, the ups, and more let downs that are part of a performer’s life.
Within this 235 pages of what reads like a detailed journal, Ron shares his life of growing up an only child in a small community of Grove, Oklahoma. Hesitant at first, he became the only boy in dance classes and went on to a college career that exposed him to platforms where he earned three music degrees and demonstrated his outstanding dance skills. His personal story is poignant and he reveals a side of himself that lends insight into how he ‘grew up’ and became the confident, multi-talented, and caring person he is today.
After college, Ron was energized to seek a larger audience. He arrived in the Big Apple on a Friday, auditioned for a role in on Monday, was called back for three auditions, and earned his first dancing role on Broadway in what turned out to be a mega hit, “Hello, Dolly!” directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and starring Carol Channing. With time, his expertise expanded to more than dancing. He was a singer and became an actor who worked in shows such as “A Chorus Line,” “Mame,” “George M,” “The Boy Friend,” “My One and Only,” plus the films “Hair,” and “Annie.”
Ron’s voice describing each play or movie comes through clearly in his narrative. To let the reader not just hear but see his life, Ron has illuminated the book with a series of photographs. The images takes the reader into Ron’s world and the relationships with legends like Angela Lansbury, Tommy Tune, Ethel Merman, Joel Gray, Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan, Georgia Engel and others.
Ron continued to work in theatre for over thirty years not just as a performer but as a dance captain to rehearse the dancers and other roles where he could demonstrate his ‘administrative’ and ‘management’ skills. He also learned about finances and how he could continue in the work he loved with the salary Broadway offered. “Lessons Learned” at the end of each chapter offer the reader a chance to reflect and take stock of how they manage their own lives.
When to hang up the dancing shoes is a tough decision for performers. Ron, however, knew that it was time to say good-bye to the theatre which had provided him with amazing opportunities and experiences for over thirty years. He set out with the same determination he had when he first came to Broadway and sought out the help of the organization Career Transition for Dancers. Although he had started an organizing business called Order Out of Chaos, Ron looked for a regularly paying job.
Director of Mooseface
My main takeaway from reading Ron’s book is his description of the friendships and professional relationships he has developed throughout his career, including the one he has with me.
Ron and I first met when we were working in the Marketing & Communications Department at Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. located in the South Tower of the Financial Center near the World Trade Towers (Ron includes a chapter of his experience on 9/11). Through perseverance and because of his professional demeanor, he found work with Lee Roselle, First Vice President/Director of the Corporate Heritage Programs. Although I was brought in as a short-term consultant, I stayed for almost four years providing technology support and training. Ron and I became friends and we went for long lunchtime walks together along the Hudson River during which I would have to keep up my pace to match his very long dancer strides.
Early one year, I had decided to write, perform, and produce my own one-woman show, Mooseface: Naked in My 50th Birthday Suit. When the performance was getting close to being ready for a stage, I asked Ron to come watch a run-through. He did. And he offered to be my director. Ron mentions this in his book on page 191, a page that I both smile at and cry over each time I see the text. My good friend Ron gave life to my play and a lasting memory of a terrific and thoughtful friend.
Ron and I don’t see each other as much since he decided it was time to set up a home near where he was born in Oklahoma. We connect with phone calls and e-mails so that I can follow the progress he was making writing his book. The manuscript took many different forms and was rejected by some publishers. However, Ron took charge and self-published. Although his target audience is those who know him, I’m certain that those who are interested in the details of a Broadway career will find a great read in The Only Boy Who Danced.