Shoshan, Oz

At The Lambs’ Greatest Hits night at the Episcopal Actors’ Guild in April, Oz Shoshan sang the song “Gigi.” It is a song by Lerner and Loewe, who were Lambs, which is a reason that he chose it. Shoshan had also been assigned the song in second semester at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). “Since then, it’s been one of my top five favorite songs to sing,” he said.

In May, he completes the one-and-a-half-year program at American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), where he has had vocal, jazz, ballet, tap, acting and musical theatre training…and where he was awards The Lambs Foundation Scott Glascock Scholarship.

His journey in the arts began early, when he started to learn dance at age 7.

Five years later, he auditioned to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD) and got accepted.  The school accepted only about 22 students out of 300 who applied. So, at the age of 12, it was the first big turn of his career. “It’s like someone put a mark on you and says ‘you’re going to be a promising dancer,” he said.

He was at JAMD for six years, getting his high school diploma from the academy in 2011. He said about Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, “You learn there what it is to be a professional.” He would dance up to eight hours a day.  

From 2006 to 2012, he won a scholarship for ballet and dance from America-Israel Cultural Foundation. He also granted an award that bears the name of Gertrud Kraus, an Israeli pioneer of modern dance.

In 2011, the cultural departments of Israel and Italy each chose 10 dancers for a special program called “Dance is Culture” that was performed in Italy. Adi Salant and Maoro Astolfi were the choreographers for this collaborative project.

From 2012 to 2014, Shoshan served in the army for three years, but he was able to combine his career interest in the arts with army service. He was among a small group, only about 15 soldiers out of 1,000 people allowed to pursue an arts career while serving in the army, where his job was in human resources. He would get up at 5:00 a.m., remain at the army base from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., then leave for rehearsal from 10:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m., return to serving in the army from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. “I did this for three years.” He said it was very demanding, because he had two careers at the same time.

From 2012 – 2014, Shoshan joined the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv as a dancer in its Junior Company. He traveled with the company to South Africa, South America, Europe, and Brazil, whose beaches he particularly liked. He performed pieces by the choreographers Ohad Naharin, Sharon Eyal and Hofesh Schechter.

He moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv around 2012. The first time he saw the show Cabaret on stage at the Cameri theater in that city at age 17, he was hooked.  “I found my passion in theater,” he said.

In 2014, he was selected to perform in the musical Hair at the Cameri theater, which was his first professional theatrical performance. He got to play a number of characters in the show. He credits Moshe Kepten’s skill at showing “How can we make each character unique and distinct from the other ones?” Shoshan recalls Kepten instructing the “tribe members” in the show such as Shoshan to be “very specific, consider what are my choices on stage, and build my background story for the role.”

In 2015 at a Cameri theater production, Shoshan played the role of Indio in its production of West Side Story, directed by Tzedi Zarfati. Shoshan said that he learned much from Zarfati including showing “what you as an actor can bring to these characters and what is going to make the production relevant today.”

Shoshan worked under that same director at the Cameri theater in the musical Kazablan. Shoshan also participated as a Russian dancer in the Cameri production of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Moshe Kepten and Moritz in Cabaret directed by Omri Nitzan.

In his fourth semester at AMDA, Shoshan performed at a drama showcase in 2018. “It was my first time walking onto a New York stage only as an actor. It was one of the best experience I have ever had.” He credits the AMDA teacher Jason Chaet for helping to “teach me to let go and trust myself. “

He praises the school highly. “The American Musical and Dramatic Academy is the best atmosphere where a young actor could be. It feels like family. The teachers are very supportive in helping me to become the best performer I can.” Shoshan added, “The school is part of who I am today. They helped me find a voice.”

His family has been in Israel for ten generations. His grandmother, Hana Shoshan, who is half Spanish, used to sing to him at a very young age in Ladino, a Judaeo-Spanish language. She performs in Ladino productions so well, he said, “my grandmother is a show stealer.”

He learned from his mother how to sew and now works part-time in the costume shop at AMDA, where he is getting the opportunity to help in designing costumes for shows. Recently he worked on a burgundy velvet cape for the character Othello.

He said that while musical theater in Israel is not as developed as in the United States, the show Cabaret was path-breaking in growing an audience for musical theater in Israel.  Since then there has been Hair, Evita, Les Misérables, and now A Chorus Line and soon Mary Poppins. Shoshan said, “It snowballed.”    

Shoshan fell in love with New York immediately. “I believed that my destiny was to live in New York. When I arrived, I found that it was true,” he said. Shoshan said he feels particularly alive when in this city. “I love being close to Broadway.” He has seen many shows including:  Tony Yazbeck in Prince on Broadway, Patti LuPone in War Paint and much else. The nearness to Broadway inspire him as a performer and he is aiming to hit this stage one day.

He finds Low Jinx “a great place to try out new songs in a heartwarming environment.” “It’s a great opportunity to perform.” Shoshan said is grateful to The Lambs Foundation for its Scott Glascock scholarship. He said The Lambs have been “amazingly supportive.” As a young member of The Lambs Oz tries to find new ways to attract a younger audience and pass the tradition of the Club to the next generation.

Shoshan has now begun his career in the United States. He has been booked by two productions coming up. He will be performing in the production of The Little Mermaid at the Fireside Dinner Theater in Wisconsin and will be on the Broadway national tour of musical Elf, which will travel the East Coast.  It’s the start of a promising career.

— Gary Shapiro