A Big ‘Deal’ for Marble Falls Choir Teacher
Teacher Bryce Gage competed on the TV game show “Deal or No Deal” the way he leads the award-winning Marble Falls High School choir.
“I go out there and do my job the best I can every day and try to be better than I was the day before,” he said. “Being in the arts, we’re vulnerable. People judge us all the time. You have to have thick skin.”
Gage was one of 30 contestants chosen from hundreds of thousands of applications. His episode will air on CNBC at 8 p.m. local time Wednesday, Jan. 16.
He said the appearance on the show, which is hosted by Howie Mandel, was one of the top 10 most fulfilling days of his life.
He has plenty of experience being on stages: He was a soloist in Carnegie Hall as well as regional orchestras and did semi-professional work as an actor and in musical theater. The only time he auditioned for a TV show was five years ago in Austin for “America’s Got Talent.” He didn’t make it past the first round.
Gage said being told he was chosen for “Deal or No Deal” was a monumental and overwhelming moment because “someone thought I was unique enough or interesting enough or normal enough that they’d want to choose me.”
The selection process, however, wasn’t normal.
In March, Gage was tagged on Twitter by a friend. The tweet simply read that TV game shows were looking for teachers to be contestants.
The choir teacher filled out an application and sent it in. He forgot about it until he heard a voicemail on his cellphone from Paul in the most professional radio voice Gage has ever heard:
“This is Paul from ‘Deal or No Deal.’ We’d like to interview you and ask you questions from the application you turned in. …”
That first interview for “Deal or No Deal” triggered many more, and each round was more intense than the last. The conversations moved from phone to Skype. Gage had to show producers his five best outfits on two separate occasions.
By June, he had a wild thought: “I might make this.”
In July, Gage was told he was going to Orlando on Aug. 8, and he was allowed to bring three people for support. He chose his wife, Shannon, and friends Kyle Futrell and David Schubert, who also are former Marble Falls High School colleagues.
Once they arrived on set, Gage said they all felt instantly welcomed and wanted.
“We immediately became the most important things in the world,” he said. “I really feel like they liked us.”
After they signed nondisclosure agreements, the four had a brief gathering with producers. Gage said that, at times, his nervousness makes him tell jokes. He and Schubert have the same sense of humor and started feeding off of each other.
In the end, one producer gave them a clear directive: The only person allowed to joke on stage is host Howie Mandel.
The four were split up and sent to a different part of the studio. Each was given talking points but no script.
Then, it was time to go to the studio, where Gage waited for his name to be called. When he finally got on stage, the real fun began.
“Howie was great. He was amazing,” Gage said.
Gage is prohibited from talking about how he did, but he said he never felt alone on stage. He was given constant encouragement from audience members, who cheered him on, and from show staff, who talked to him and his support group during commercial breaks.
His wife and friends were right there with him, too. Located to one side of the stage, they were introduced to the audience and “offered advice and encouragement the whole show,” he said.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “Everyone should have a day like that all the time. They wanted us to feel like a million bucks all day long.”
If there was one drawback, it was that the Gages basically gave up their summer. He said he would get unscheduled calls from the producers asking that he fill out more papers and return them the next day after having them notarized.
But he doesn’t regret doing the show. Its producers have become like family.
Despite his excitement, Gage said he’ll probably watch the show on tape delay rather than when it airs.
The reason: the Marble Falls High School choir is performing in “Newsies The Musical,” the school’s winter production, and students are having a dress rehearsal that night. Gage plans to be there to help.
He stresses believing in one’s self and being unafraid to his students. He hopes they see that in him.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said. “You gotta be you and don’t be anybody else, even when you know there’s going to be a thousand people watching.”
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