Christian Hoff: From San Diego To Broadway and Back Again
If you want to know how San Diego native Christian Hoff got his start as an acclaimed actor, singer and dancer, you might get a different story depending on whom you talk to.
“I would imagine my mother would answer that question differently,” Hoff says. “She would say I was a ham from day one, at least from the time I could talk.”
Hoff’s formal introduction to performing arts, regardless of who tells the story, was from the San Diego Junior Theatre. Now in its 60th year, the Junior Theater is committed to providing engaging, innovative, high-quality theatre education and productions for children of all cultural heritages, ages, abilities and levels of interest.
For Hoff, he expressed an interest at the age of eight, when the La Jolla youngster had to choose between playing sports and playing on a stage. He selected acting because his mom told him he could use his imagination to sing, dance and act – and he would have a chance to get up on stage in front of people and play someone else.
“That’s what really got my attention,” Hoff recalls, adding, “My mom could have seen that coming.”
From that first year, Hoff was hooked.
“The minute I stepped on stage and was able to lose myself in another character and in the storytelling, I found great freedom,” he says. “I think I was very shy when it came to letting it out. My mom knew I had it in me. She wanted to help me figure out how to let it out. That was it. It was on stage.”
Hoff returns this weekend to his San Diego theatrical origins for the San Diego Junior Theatre’s annual benefit concert, Sept. 12 at the Casa del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park. Entitled Christian Hoff: Live In Concert, the evening directly benefits San Diego Junior Theatre and its arts education programming. Hoff is looking forward to the homecoming, being able to give back to the theatre where he learned his craft.
“I learned about the respect of the craft of acting, whether it was how you focus and apply yourself, and whether you watch and listen. Those are things I took with me right from the beginning was that discipline, was the respect for the process,” Hoff says about his time at Junior Theatre. “That’s something I really carried with me.”
Junior Theatre board member, Darien Webster, reconnected with Hoff to bring him back to the San Diego youth stage. “Christian and I met as eight year-old kids when we were directed by Bonnie and Don Ward at Junior Theatre. His intense desire and natural ability to perform carried him swiftly into a career spanning all the way to Broadway.”
Shortly after joining San Diego Junior Theatre, Hoff started doing professional theatre. “That’s when I first found out I get paid to do this,” he jokes. By the time he was 11, he was doing television, commercials and voiceovers (he was a character is Richie Rich, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series).
His introduction to Broadway came a few years later — also from San Diego, this time with the help of the La Jolla Playhouse. He was an original cast member of The Who’s Tommy at the Playhouse and later on Broadway (1993). He returned to the La Jolla stage after “almost a lifetime had gone by” to create the role of Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys (2005), for which he won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Critically acclaimed as the show’s “ace,” he was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award, a Drama League Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award.
He can also be seen as District Attorney, Richard Blackman on ABC’s Ugly Betty and as federal prosecutor Thomas Grady on NBC’s Law and Order; Criminal Intent. He is currently rehearsing for an upcoming Los Angeles revival of Parade.
He takes a break from his busy schedule for his one night show in San Diego. The Junior Theatre alumnus will serve up his own mix of pop and Broadway hit songs — including a selection from Jersey Boys. Ticket prices range from $25 to $500. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (619) 239-8355 or visit the Junior Theatre’s website at www.juniortheatre.com.
“I am so excited to return the very stage that launched my journey to Broadway and my Tony Award,” says Hoff.
Christian Hoff: Live In Concert
A benefit concert for the San Diego Junior Theatre
Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
Casa del Prado Theatre (In Balboa Park)
Box Office: (619) 239-8355