When Emmy-nominated producer and director Jonathan Tessero was in need of a vocalist who could also dance and play saxophone for the upcoming Broadway show “Home for the Holidays,” it was AU alumnus Luke Stafford who got the call.
“This role was undoubtedly a move of God’s hand,” said Stafford, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in music business and entertainment.
Tessero was the creative director for the weeklong coverage of Superbowl XLVII in 2013, including the halftime show that was headlined by Beyoncé. He and Stafford have worked together in the past.
“[Tessero] was pleased with my former work,” said Stafford. “It came down to a simple phone call for him.”
The show, a concert of holiday songs and stories, will run for six weeks beginning with a preview on Nov. 17. Rehearsals for the show begin on Nov. 6—leaving the cast only nine days to prepare for the opening.
Stafford, who moved to Los Angeles to seek career opportunities, traveled to New York Wednesday to begin working on the show. His upcoming schedule is “the most intense rehearsal calendar” he has faced so far in his career.
“A 90-minute show of this caliber—instrumental performance, vocal performance and choreography—learned roughly in a week,” he said.
The cast will rehearse roughly nine hours per day in the next few weeks. “Pray for me,” Stafford joked.
Stafford credited his time at AU for developing such deep-rooted strength and endurance.
“AU built my faith and rooted it in a steadfast walk with Christ,” he said. “Thus far, the journey has included loss, isolation and struggle, both in business and life. Through working with professors on an individual level, I have been able to stay rooted in a world that is ever-changing and has swallowed up many people.”
His time at AU led him to develop a deep understanding of the entertainment industry, giving him the “headset to ‘stick it out’ as an artist, business professional and servant leader.”
Headlining artists for “Home for the Holidays” include Candice Glover, winner of “American Idol” season 12; Josh Kaufman, “The Voice” season six winner; and Bianca Ryan, “America’s Got Talent” season one winner.
Behind the headlining acts will be an eight-piece rhythm and brass band and performances of traditional Christmas songs such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night,” as well as contemporary songs such as “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Additional guests include Kaitlyn Bristowe, star of “The Bachelorette” season 11; Danny Aiello, actor and singer; and YouTube stars Peter and Evynne Hollens.
In his young career, Stafford has performed in the Indianapolis Circle of Lights Celebration, toured with the band Earth, Wind, and Fire and been featured in the music video for Carrie Underwood’s song “Dirty Laundry.” Broadway is a new stepping stone for the young entertainer, who has many projects and opportunities in the works currently.
“We will see [what’s next],” he said. “With a few other contracts in performance, music and film currently under negotiation for the new year, I am prayerfully surrendering to the Lord’s will moving forward. His plans far exceed my own. I only seek to be the best man, servant and professional that I can.”
“Home for the Holidays” premieres to the public on Nov. 21 in the August Wilson Theatre in New York City, New York. Tickets are on sale now at www.broadway.com.