January 25, 2018

A College Frat Guy to Musician to a Southern Cowboy, Do You Know the Real Andrew? Or is it Drew?

There are certainly things you cannot miss when standing next to Andrew O’Shanick or noticing him from across the room. But on first glance, you might think you know who he is based solely on the book jacket. But little do you know, there is so much more hiding behind those broad shoulders than you could have ever imagined. I bet you are going to have trouble believing it … just watch.


When asked what is the most mistaken thing that others say they think they know about him, O’Shanick – who admits that he introduces himself as Drew but professionally goes by Andrew – wasted no time in naming what people usually get wrong about him.


“People think I am good at being social,” O’Shanick said through a chuckle. “One of the bigger things I have had to work on is that I am not the confident person in social settings people expect. Objectively, I know that I am tall, and a fairly good-looking guy and people notice me since it is hard to miss a 6’5” person, but I am horrible at meeting new people.”


Having met O’Shanick just before this interview, I would have to say that his Disney, leading-man good looks and tall stature do give off that impression – so I guess I would have been wrong too.


His stature is something that does

sets him apart though, being that

 in his immediate family no one

tops 6 feet, but it is far from the

most interesting thing about him.

After spending even just an hour

with O’Shanick, you realize he is

literally a human spice rack of

experiences and talent. And just

a side note – ask him to do it for

you because it’s crazy cool – those

talents also include his ability to

wiggle his ears at will, which is

so noticeable that it shifts his

entire scalp.


“Starting off, I am the baby of 5,”

O’Shanick explained. “I have 2

older sisters and 2 older brothers:

Beth, Peter, Van and Alexis. My

mom is named Alison and my

dad is named Greg. Within our

family, though I know in some

larger families there can be

competition among siblings, I have

always felt we were super supportive of each other growing up.”


The irony is almost lost on O’Shanick for a moment until I confirm out loud that in fact his brother’s name is Van. He then admitted that he had not put it together and connected that he would also be playing a character bearing the same name in the upcoming production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead.


“It is just such a common name in our house it didn’t hit me until you asked.”


Moving past his family dynamic, it was now time to talk to him about the elephant in the room, his height. I mean, just shy of the mark for most NBA players around 6’6” and 6’7”, I was sure that early on in life he played a sport and just left his sneakers behind to pursue the arts.


“I played sports, but I didn’t play them well,” he admitted. “I played baseball and little league growing up, and then I wrestled in junior high into early high school before an injury to my shoulder exasperated by my playing of the violin required me to leave the sport. And then people always ask because I am tall, but I am horrible at basketball.”


So again, mistaking what I thought I could guess about O’Shanick, I finally realized I should leave the presumptions aside and let him just enlighten me to who is was, and more importantly, is becoming.


“I started playing violin when I was 3,” O’Shanick continued. “The folk lore of the early start is that my mom was late to pick me up from school, so I went with my older sister to her next class which happened to be violin. I ended up liking it and went home with a violin that day, started taking lessons with my teacher Loretta, and she was my teacher for the next 15 years.”


After High School, he applied to the University of Texas, Indiana University, and his home-state school of the University of Virginia, looking for colleges that also had top-notch business schools along with the opportunity for him to continue playing the violin.


“I ended up staying close to home and attending the University of Virginia,” he said. “Then after high school graduation, I ended up not playing the violin for 2 years which opened the door for me to start singing, doing A Capella and then I got into Opera. I had my first opportunities with Opera because a fraternity brother of mine was producing shows and he asked me to sing in one of them. So, my first show was H.M.S. Pinafore, a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta.”


Yep, you heard that right, O’Shanick was in a fraternity – which when you meet him seems so far from his personality now.


“You can definitely find pictures of me in a Seersucker Suit on my social media, but I would not say that I was a typical frat guy,” O’Shanick admitted. “I was a Phi Delta Theta, we were part of the Greek System, but our chapter was made up of the atypical frat guy in my opinion. We were all very passionate about our pursuits, we had a couple of Rhode Scholars in successive years, had various guys involved in school leadership, so that is what made up the mixing pot of our group of guys. We were not all about partying. As a national entity, I will admit, the fraternity would be characterized just like any other. But I think the success of our group of guys had a lot to do with our individual drives that came together as a whole. I would not say that we represent the norm, nor would I whole heartedly endorse the fraternity culture outside of my personal experience at UVA.”

Male Swing/Fight Captain Joe Marx will take you through all the different issue this show covers, including existentialism ... Yeah its a big word.
O'Shanick Siblings (L to R): Peter, Beth, Alexis, Van and Andrew.

Upon further online investigation, one of the first things you learn about Phi Delts is one of their mottos, ‘Become the Greatest Version of Yourself’. The fraternity can also lay claim to its past members including a former president, the first man on the moon, multiple Pulitzer prize winners and many other accomplished gentlemen in business and government. So, maybe in fact O’Shanick was that kind of frat guy after all, just not the idea of one that I had preconceived.


“I think I have grown up and changed a lot since college, or I hope I have,” O’Shanick reflected. “So, especially now I find most people are surprised I was in a fraternity because of the stigma that culture carries with it. But it is a culture I didn’t identify with nor did my chapter when I was a member.”


Since college, that change has also included O’Shanick’s shift from Opera into the Musical Theatre and the Acting world.


“I truly believe in the idea that there is a difference between trying to fit in and trying to find a place where you belong,” O’Shanick said. “So, trying to find a place where you belong focuses on you acknowledging who you are and finding where you best fit, rather than trying to change yourself for a group. So, I try to remind myself of that and continue to be open to the possibilities. It is that drive that led me into musical theatre. I felt the work I got in Musical Theatre I could be more truthful in my performances, and in acting I feel like I am freer by not having to be limited by the constraints of the notes or music like you have to in a musical.”


It is clear that O’Shanick is not one lacking in talent, far from it, but it was interesting to find out what he wishes he could be good at, or rather, a path he would go down if perhaps the deck he was dealt favored those pursuits.


“Immediately the first thing that comes to mind is dancing,” O’Shanick said without hesitation, “I think that it would be so cool. And the kind of dancing that I am thinking would be something like Millennium Dance Complex, which is a Dance studio out of LA. They have millions of followers on YouTube and I can sit there and watch their videos for hours. But don’t get me wrong, being a crazy cool ballet dancer would also be just as awesome. I might be giving myself away too much, but one of my favorite movies growing up was Center Stage, so I am not above ballet either.”


Find one of Millennium Dance Complex’s signature YouTube Videos & Choreography by Clicking HERE


Giving himself away a bit, though he admits he is not the best in social situations, he does have a charm that draws you in and begs you to find out more about him. That is true of his sense of humor too, which though hit or miss on whether it lands, provides you all sorts of zingers when it’s on target.


“I would describe my sense of humor as a machine gun rather than a sniper rifle,” O’Shanick said. “Instead of being targeted with my comments, I just say and spit out whatever comes to my head and just hope it sticks. So usually it is either very funny, or it really isn’t. I just never know.”


And one final thing that O’Shanick just tossed in our interview at the end on a whim,

was a case and point to the idea that you cannot think you know a person until you

just sit down and ask them. And to my reading audience right now, that is why I am

glad I did just that with this talented actor.


“My mother grew up riding horses,” O’Shanick said. “So fast forward 16 years, and she

bought a number of them and we have a horse farm now. I bet if I tried, I could

definitely dig up a picture of me in a cowboy hat because there was a time that I was

definitely a cowboy. My horse’s name is ‘I’m A Rock Star’, but we call him Rocky. He

got his name because his mom had Rocky in her name and his dad had Star in his, so

when he was born they named him ‘I’m A Rock Star’.”


Well ladies and gentlemen, have no fear, we did in fact dig up that picture.


You can catch O’Shanick’s performance in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage

Blockhead in the role of Van when it opens, running February 2-4 | 9-11 at Matthew

Corozine Studio Theatre, located at 357 West 36th, #202, New York, NY, 10018. Tickets

are on sale for $18 at www.BrownPaperTickets.com, and the show will last 90 minutes

with no intermission.