In 1996, George Psomas stepped up to the podium for the first time as a Junior Division participant at the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival. Now, he is a professional actor in New York City who was in the 2015 Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, and the 2008 Broadway production of South Pacific. George took part in the Tony Awards and the NBC Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He recently won Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Fidel Castro in the new musical Errol and Fidel with the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
George recently made his Carnegie Hall debut singing “Somewhere” from West Side Story to honor Academy Award Winner, George Chakiris. Film credits include Jersey Shore Massacre, Family on Board and Bittersweet Sixteen. Voiceover work includes a Pizza Hut commercial and a lead role for an animated pilot for the Cartoon Network. George appeared in Vogue in “Romeo & Juliet” by photographer Annie Leibovitz, was the 2016 and 2017 Host for Broadway Under the Stars, and was the winner of “Broadway Idol” Season 2 in New York City.
Participating in the Oratorical Festival as a teen, George learned many valuable lessons and experiences that carried over into his love of theatre, and remain with him in his career as a professional actor today. He credits the festival for providing him with a further understanding of our faith and teaching him how to take a simple idea and turn it into something special.
“Our words are powerful, and the Oratorical Festival fosters creative thought and celebrates what our youth has to say. But perhaps its greatest gift is its greatest challenge...to take those words and express them out loud,” George states, “To craft a speech with care and to make the audience think and feel something through your delivery. Sometimes those words are awarded, and sometimes they aren’t, but they are never wasted.”
George reflected on his experience as an Oratorical Teen (OT) and noted a standout moment for us. It was 1997, his second year participating in the festival. He was in 8th grade and in the middle of his speech at the District level. All of a sudden, an ice machine started making very loud noises in the room next door. Naturally, the entire audience shifted to see what was going on. George could feel the audience’s attention drifting.
“I remember thinking in that moment that I needed to get the focus back on me, so I began to speak louder, and decided to not let it distract me. I allowed the noise to fuel what I was saying and began to speak with the natural rhythm of the machine, as almost a soundtrack to my speech.”
The noise went on for almost a minute before someone was able to unplug it. When George’s speech was finished, the audience gave an overwhelming applause. He ended up winning that day and ultimately became a national finalist that year. He learned a valuable lesson through that experience.
“I learned that no matter what distractions life throws at you, there is always a way to stay focused and move forward.”
George participated in the Junior Division of the Oratorical Festival from 1996 through 1998 for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He was a National Finalist at the 1997 Festival in New Rochelle, New York, and the 1998 Festival in North Ridge, California. He currently lives in New York City and works as a professional actor. You can connect with George on Instagram, his handle is @george_psomas.
Want to become an Oratorical Teen? Learn more by reading the Participant Packet. Were you an Oratorical Teen? Share your story with us by emailing [email protected] for more info.