LOS ANGELES - A Houghton High School graduate and aspiring actor is getting a big break with a role on "Glee" this Tuesday.
Graham Kurtz, who grew up in the Copper Country before getting his bachelor's degree in musical theatre at Western Michigan University and then moving to New York and Los Angeles to practice his craft, will appear in the "Yes/No" episode airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday on FOX.
"After the first day, I had to call my agent the next day and ask what happened, did I really just shoot 'Glee'?" Kurtz said in a phone interview. "It was an honor."
Kurtz started his career in Chicago and New York after graduating from WMU, doing a lot of musical theatre, including an international tour of "West Side Story." When he got to New York, he also started doing TV and film, including appearances in "30 Rock" and "Louie." After four years living in New York, however, Kurtz decided it was time for a change.
"I realized I didn't really like New York, or at least I didn't enjoy the weather," Kurtz said. "I realized I'm an adult, I'm allowed to move somewhere where the weather's nice.
"If your career's not going the way you want, go somewhere else," he continued. "If I had my druthers, I would live in a smaller place like Houghton and drive or fly to auditions."
Following the move to Los Angeles, Kurtz interned at a commercial casting company and started taking improvisation classes with the Groundlings.
"That's the thing that's big right now," Kurtz said. "So I got that credit on my resume."
More recently, Kurtz has been doing commercial work as well as voiceover work.
Yet landing the "Glee" role is the highlight of his career so far, and was a great experience, he said. After an initial, unsuccessful audition with the show earlier in the year, Kurtz nailed a second one in early December and got a role as a swimmer for a synchronized swim routine in the show, although he didn't have much time to prepare.
"My agent called and said they need you tomorrow," Kurtz said. "So she sent me over the paperwork and my lines, and ... luckily, the call time wasn't until 4 p.m. the next day."
In actually filming the show, Kurtz had to spend 14 hours in a pool, but luckily, he was a swimmer at Houghton so he had some experience in swimming. He also received the opportunity to work with actor Eric Stoltz, who directed the episode.
"It was an honor as Stoltz is a prominent film star," Kurtz said. "He was very solid; he let me do my thing, but if he saw anything he could tweak, he would suggest ways to change."
With "Glee" on his resume just in time for auditions for TV pilots about to start, Kurtz is optimistic about the future.
"It's very nice with money coming in doing the things I want to do," he said.