The grandson of the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn has embraced the world of theatre. Suzanne Baum chats to Isaac Gryn about making a name for himself in Billy Elliot and his next steps..
Just like the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn, his grandson Isaac hopes to be loved and respected for his work in the same way he believes his grandfather was. However, rather than a pulpit, it is the stage where Isaac is already making a name for himself as he pursues a career in acting.
Having already appeared in a number of musicals, including the West End production of Billy Elliot, 16-year-old Gryn is very much at home in musical theatre “I absolutely love performing. I come alive when I am on stage and am at my happiest,” enthused Gryn, who lives in Highgate. “I am proud of knowing who my grandfather was and what role he played within the Jewish community. My dream is to be as successful an actor as he was a rabbi.”
As the son of two artists, Gryn grew up in a very creative family and became interested in acting at a very young age. “I went to Akiva Primary School and we had a fantastic and inspiring ex-Ballet Rambert Dance Company teacher called Mari Mackenzie who gave dance and musical theatre classes. “She inspired me to perform and take an interest in theatre and we still remain close family friends.”
Having played all the lead roles in his school plays, as well as performing in a local theatre production of the musical Oliver!, Gryn’s big break came when he got the role of Tall Boy in Billy Elliot – a part he played for a year in 2010. (Tall Boy is the son of a miner who crosses the picket line to work. He appears in the opening scene and later in the boxing scene with Billy and Michael doing push-ups — a part that required Gryn to do many push-ups on stage and additional ones during rehearsals.)
“One of the most exciting parts of being involved with the show was the fact I got to work with some of the best directors in the industry,” explained Gryn. “The whole experience of being in such an amazing musical was a great learning curve for me.
“I realised very quickly that it was not at all as glamorous a job as it looks. It was in fact hard and repetitive work. I had no compensation from my school for the fact that I was working many nights until 11pm and then was still having to get up at 6am in order to get ready for school.
“What it made me realise is that I loved the work and I also loved my school and so to maintain a school life and work balance, I had to become very self-disciplined, diligent and focused – qualities which have remained pretty strong within me ever since.”
More recently, Gryn performed in the National Youth Musical Theatre’s production of West Side Story, a musical which happens to be his favourite. “My agent is Curtis Brown and they have been absolutely fantastic. I have been put up by them for many auditions for major film, theatre and TV roles over the last few years and they have helped guide my career. “Even if I don’t get the parts, I always relish the challenge and see auditions as a great learning experience.”
Now attending the Arts Educational School in Chiswick, Gryn intends to get as much experience as possible. “I’m doing everything I can right now to enhance my chances of making a name for myself as a professional actor. “My goal is to one day have leading roles in film, TV, dance, musical theatre and traditional theatre.”
As for the future, Gryn hopes to move abroad one day and try and make a name for himself in America. Should he find fame, he is adamant it won’t go to his head. “If I follow my dreams and my career takes off my family will ensure I remain grounded. “They have always supported me as they know how alive I feel when I am on stage.”
In the same way that Rabbi Hugo Gryn was deeply admired for his work, it seems his grandson may soon be following in his grandfather’s footsteps.