Sean McCourt was about six-years-old when he saw a production of "Annie" at the Fisher Theater.
"I was so taken by it. I was completely taken by the art form. I wanted to do what those people get to do," he said. "I'll never forget that night."
McCourt, who graduated from Lahser High School in 1989 and went on to have a successful acting career on Broadway, is now making things happen behind the scenes as a television producer. He also narrates the show "Barnwood Builders," that is going into its 10th season on the DIY Network.
"I got into acting in grade school, about fifth grade. My music teacher was a huge influence," he said. "I went to New York University out of high school. I wasn't seriously considering it, but I won a presidential scholarship for the arts my senior year. It didn't seem real – then I won. I thought maybe it was worth a shot. I had done every production I could in school."
In New York, McCourt's Broadway credits include "Wicked," "Titanic," "It Ain't Nothing But the Blues," "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," and "Mary Poppins." Prior to Broadway, McCourt played Dr. Thomas Parker, a drunk psychopath, in the original cast of the Off-Broadway musical "Batboy: The Musical!"
To keep himself fresh and inspired during shows on a long run, McCourt said he would mingle in the crowd prior to a show.
"Long runs are tricky, but my trick was that if I 'don't have it tonight,' I would put on my street clothes and walk through the audience before the show and see people with tickets buying drinks and looking at the playbill. That would take me back to that moment in the audience. It's someone's first show and someone's last show. If I don't have what I need to bring my best game, I need to get out."
Off the stage and on the screen, McCourt had some acting credits, including parts on "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Ed" and other roles. For the past dozen years, McCourt has worked with Silent Crow Arts, where he has run and produced several shows, including "Mad Scientists," "Bering Sea Gold: After the Dredge," "Game On, America," Driving America," "Deadliest Catch: The Bait," and "Barnwood Builders."
McCourt said the transition to content production for television was a logical transition, as stage acting no longer fit into the larger picture.
"When the kids were in school full-time, it just didn't work anymore," he said. "When they were babies, it was great, but I knew going in that I would see them on Monday nights only if I went down that path. I was fortunate to have a friend in television, and he brought me into this company for a writer and director.”
What McCourt found was that his talent for storytelling extended beyond his own roles, helping to make the change into the new field a natural transition.
"I found that good writing and good acting are similar," he said. "There are a lot of crossover skills. It's telling a story simply and concisely – to say six words that one may say in 100. I learned a lot of that from (television host and narrator) Mike Rowe, as well."
While transitioning into a different role was intimidating, McCourt said the key was to throw himself into the work.
"The moment of leaving the theater was terrifying," he said, "but a former actor and writing partner of mine said 'there will be work, you just have to jump in.'"