SALEM, Ind. (AP) — In the late 1990s, Kyle Matthew Hamilton watched a couple of VHS cassettes over and over again in the Salem, Indiana, home where he grew up.

"My mom found some old copies of 'Grease' and the 'Back to the Future' franchise," Hamilton said. "I wanted to be Danny Zuko and Marty McFly. I wanted to do musicals and skateboard."

Although musical theater and skateboards may seem worlds apart, the now 30-year-old Hamilton has found a surprising way to successfully combine the two.

He is singing, dancing — and skateboarding — in the musical "SpongeBob SquarePants," which is currently running on Broadway.

Arriving on the West Coast with his skateboard and the drive to become an actor, Hamilton enrolled in American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

When not taking acting classes, he made money by coaching child actors to skateboard for their scenes on television or in movies.

He also used his skateboarding skills to appear in music videos with One Direction, David Archuleta and Cali Swag District, and he even performed in fashion shows and on television on "American Idol."

"I do a type of skateboarding called freestyle. It's not the big jumps like you see at the Extreme Park in Louisville," Hamilton said. "It's all gymnastics and acrobatic tricks performed on the flat ground. It's great eye candy for stage material."

Watch any of Hamilton's skateboarding videos and you'll see the strength and coordination freestyle requires.

He rolls by the camera while holding a handstand on top of his board then pops the board onto its side and balances on the skateboard's thin edge.

While acting roles came his way in sitcoms like Nickelodeon's "iCarly" and the international stage tour of "Scooby-Doo: The mystery of the pyramid!", skateboarding paid the way.

A few years ago he moved to New York and wrote a full-length play about skateboarding, which he produced in an indoor skateboard park in Brooklyn.

"It was truly one the coolest things I have ever done," Hamilton said of the play.

Then came the opportunity to sing, dance and skate on Broadway.

In the beginning, Hamilton was hired as a skateboarding coach for the other actors in "SpongeBob SquarePants," however, it didn't take long for the show's director to realize Hamilton's talents were needed on stage as part of the show.

In the musical, Hamilton's character is named "Spike of the Electric Skate" and during his big numbers, ramps are placed on stage for him to perform tricks.

To take the edge off in between shows, Hamilton goes to dance or gymnastics classes and runs a lot in New York City. He's staying away from skateboarding for pleasure simply because he can't risk getting hurt.

"There is a lingering feeling that I am in a huge multi-million dollar Broadway show, and I am the only skateboard trickster in the show," Hamilton said. "So I do realize there is a limitation I need to give myself outside the theater."

Featuring original songs by artists like Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and other big-name composers, "SpongeBob" is receiving a lot of attention and Hamilton is loving every moment of the show's success.

Success he's earned. The Salem native also offers a bit of advice to kids who are like he was growing up.

"To any kid out there who is passionate about something but feels misunderstood, I say keep pursuing whatever stokes you up the most, makes you happy, and allows you feel like you are the baddest, coolest person in your entire town," Hamilton said.

Sound advice from a guy who grew up in a small Midwest town and now skateboards under the bright lights of Broadway.

___

Source: The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier Journal, http://cjky.it/2BICqTU