The LA Times says Blake Stadnik “stars with ease” as Billy Lawlor in the current national tour of 42nd Street. This exceptional young actor is making a real impression in the theatrical community. In addition to all the rejection and challenges that make the life of a working actor so difficult, Blake has another challenge that he has overcome. He was diagnosed with a form of juvenile macular degeneration that left him legally blind at the age of 7.
During an interview with The Boston Globe, Stadnik explained that while actors can jot down notes from a director about where to stand and walk on stage, he has to remember the directions, practice the movements, and keep it all in his head. He can't recognize faces, but he can see shapes. So he can detect where the other actors are and pick up somewhat on their body language, which helps serve as his stage cues.
When he was a child, Stadnik's parents wanted to keep him from becoming sedentary. Because he seemed to start moving whenever he heard music, his mother signed him up for tap dancing lessons.
"It just clicked," Stadnik said. “I don't know if I'd be doing this without my condition. It's actually been a blessing in disguise." Since graduation, he has won over the hearts of audiences and industry professionals alike. Director Marc Robin said, when casting, “I want the best, and Blake is the best.”