“Tyler is one of our most successful alumni,” Frank Timmerman, director of the Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts at Pebblebrook, said. He recounts how the former student was a captain in many productions, took on a one-act play his senior year, and won the top acting awards in the state.
“There has never been a doubt in anyone’s mind,” Timmerman said. “He’s a package deal. He will always give 100 percent.”
Hanes is a dancer, singer and actor who has been seen on stage and television, in magazines and more. He has performed on Broadway in showstoppers such as “Oklahoma!” “Hairspray” and “A Chorus Line.” He has also had roles on “30 Rock” and “One Life to Live.” He appeared alongside Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman in “Phoebe in Wonderland,” among other movies.
Hanes lives in Los Angeles now, but graduated from Pebblebrook in 2000. Originally from Florida, he grew up as one of seven children and was introduced to performing arts at a young age.
“My mom thought it was important we be involved in something,” he said. “All my older siblings started dancing when they were young. My mom was forced to put me in dance. I tried out sports, but that didn’t really work out.”
Hanes began performing at age 7. He competed in events with Atlanta Ballet and other dance centers but said Pebblebrook changed his path.
“I was able to fine tune my abilities,” he said. “It was also a safe environment. To be around a bunch of other performers and young artists was the perfect environment for me to be in and really thrive.”
He received a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University, but delayed his enrollment to perform in the first national tour “Fosse.” Ann Reinking, the director, handpicked him. Hanes lived in New York for nearly eight years.
During his time at Pebblebrook, he recalls how guest artists would come and speak. Hanes now returns the favor, coming at least once a year to provide guidance and inspiration.
“I learned so much from them,” he said. “I am very passionate about teaching. Any opportunity I can, just to go back and give back and work with the students, is one that I jump at.”
Having graduates come back not only adds to the students’ experience, but to the program as a whole. Timmerman said students in the program would not be able to get that type of experience anywhere else.
“The success of the program is built on the success of the kids who come here,” he said, “Any time we can have graduates come and talk to the kids, it’s an entirely different perception that they have of them rather just somebody random. They are able to talk to them about very specific things they are doing and training (for) here at Pebblebrook. It really is an invaluable resource. It makes it all seem more attainable.”
Hanes said coming back to Pebblebrook is an important part of his journey. When he walked the halls as a dance major and voice and drama minor, Hanes struggled with comparing himself to others.
“It’s a form of torture,” he said, and offers the following advice.
“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else because you are not them. You are special enough. There is nobody else like you,” he said.
Timmerman said Hanes was always a perfectionist, but has an exemplary work ethic. “He was always ‘full out,’” Timmerman said. “Because of that, the people who were here at the same time tried to rise to that same level.”
Timmerman recalled a time when Hanes was practicing for his role in “Forever Plaid.” He was part of a quartet, the high tenor. The group went to a cabin in Tennessee to learn the show.
“He wouldn’t let anybody hear it until he had a chance to go outside and sing it on his own, and then come back in and sing it for the rest of the group,” Timmerman said. “That’s the way he is with his singing and acting.”
Hanes hit the stage again when he performed for the school’s 25th anniversary gala last fall and has also taught Pebblebrook students during their annual trip to New York. Hanes’ dedication to teaching is also evident through his involvement as a resident artist for the Performing Arts Project.
This highly selective program allows nearly 100 students to audition and train with more than 30 guest artists to hone their crafts. It takes place at Wake Forest University in July and lasts three weeks, focusing on theater and the performing arts.
Hanes participated in a similar program, the Broadway Theatre Project, when he was younger. He recalls working with the late Gregory Hines during his time there, saying how beneficial the experience was to his craft and career.
Meeting Chenoweth’s tour director, Richard Jay-Alexander, has also been beneficial for Hanes. He caught Jay-Alexander’s eye while working with Chenoweth for “Dancing With The Stars” last fall and was offered a chance to choreograph the tour. Hanes describes her as amazing.
“What you see is what you get. She’s a good Southern girl. She’s a little sassy. She’s a hard worker. She’s self-deprecating,” he said. “Her talent is limitless. For me as a choreographer, that’s a dream to work with because she brings so much to the table. As a performer, there’s so much to learn just from watching her in the show. She’s really spectacular.”
Timmerman’s sentiments about his former student are just as positive, if not more.
“Tyler’s spirit is so giving. He’s always been that way,” he said. “He is easy to work with. He’s also appreciative of the talent other people bring. When you watch Tyler perform, you can’t take your eyes off him.”
Timmerman adds, “There are not too many people that I overly gush about like this, but he’s the real deal.”