Ryan Armstrong first began performing onstage in grade school.
The Kenmore native started in the Northwest Boychoir at the age of 6. By the age of 10, he joined the organization’s performing choir. With the group, he participated in national tours annually, performed with the Seattle Symphony and even recorded a few albums for movie soundtracks.
And the rest, as they say, was history.
“I got the bug,” Armstrong said.
Since those early days, the 2013 Inglemoor High School graduate received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater from Central Washington University in 2016. Following college, Armstrong lived in Missouri for a two-month acting gig and joined the Actors’ Equity Association, or actors’ union.
Now in New York, Armstrong has performed in a national theater tour for six months, traveling to various states including Michigan, Florida, Kansas and Vermont.
“Never on the West Coast unfortunately, because I’m such a West Coast person,” he said about where the tour took him.
Armstrong has also performed in multiple Off-Broadway shows.
And while he has not made his Broadway debut yet, his upcoming project has him working with those who have. On Dec. 1, Armstrong will release “Crossroads,” a music album featuring re-imaginings of Broadway show tunes from various musicals, performed Broadway stars — all of whom come from different and diverse backgrounds.
Armstrong is singing on just about half of the 16 tracks.
The album is entirely nonprofit, with half of the proceeds being donated to 5th Avenue Theatre’s Rising Star Project in Seattle and Northwest Choirs. The other half of the proceeds will go toward Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Armstrong chose the two Seattle-based causes because they played a large role in shaping his career as a performer. The Northwest Boychoir is part of Northwest Choirs. And as a high school student, he participated in the Rising Star Project, shadowing performers and performing in a quartet for a weekend of the theater’s production of “The Music Man.”
“It was fun,” Armstrong said about the experience. “I loved it.”
According to its website, Broadway Cares is an industry-based nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. The organization “helps men, women and children across the country and across the street receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance.”
The album will be released on World AIDS Day.
Armstrong said he wants to do what he can to make a difference in helping others and said he chose to do a charitable album because the chosen causes will receive funds as long as people are purchasing it. Whereas a charitable performance would be limited to its run.
“Theater always ends,” he explained.
To mark his upcoming album, an pre-release party will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Matthews Beach Park at 5100 N.E. 93rd St. in Seattle.
Armstrong said the event will be a laid-back barbecue and attendees will be able to purchase samplers of the album for $5.
“It’ll be fun,” he said.
The full-length album will sell for $19.99 as a CD and between $9.99 and $14.99 online. Armstrong said the latter price point has not been decided yet. Once it is released, the album will be available online wherever music is sold, including iTunes and Amazon.com.
Armstrong said “Crossroads” has been in the works for about three years and a lot of the work was just figuring out if creating such and album would be logistically feasible. In addition, he said the album received some of its funding through online crowd funding, which pushed him to want to see things through and finish the project.
Armstrong said through the experience of creating the album, he has learned that it is not a sustainable business strategy to try and do everything by himself and it was great to have a team to work with on the project.
While he couldn’t name a particular favorite part of the process it took to create the album, Armstrong said he is glad to have it be done as he is the kind of person who creates check lists and likes the feeling of accomplishment when he completes a list.
“(Completing ‘Crossroads’ is) like an elephant is stepping off my back,” he said.