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What Does Broadway Leadership Look Like?

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Right now, the world is looking to its leaders to show them the way forward, but Broadway is sadly silent.
 
Every million dollar organization in the world invests in molding its management into quality leaders who know how to communicate and build up their company, leaders who eventually know how to acknowledge, validate, and compassionately turn their employees into leaders. It also benefits the owners and CEOs of these businesses to build their employees up into leaders themselves!

Yet Broadway has no systems in place for its leadership.

There is no training of this kind for producers, stage managers, and company managers even though they are in charge of handling hundreds of people's livelihoods and stories. Sure, there are unions, but their focus is on advocating for labor contracts, NOT how the industry as a whole responds in times of crisis.

And right now is such a time.

Broadway is an idea that so many people (including myself) are inspired to dream about and eventually...

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Seasons of Love

 

Broadway Method Academy, the resident conservatory of Westport Country Playhouse, like so many other businesses, has been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19. The organization's musicals, classes, and special events have all been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future.

"The effects of COVID-19 have been staggering on our community. So many students have lost out on special opportunities," said Connor Deane, BMA's Executive Director. "With the cancellation of productions, both at BMA and at their local schools, we wanted to put something together that would hopefully lift their spirits."

BMA teamed up with a variety of its Broadway artists (including me) and over forty of the academy's students, to present a virtual rendition of Jonathan Larson's 'Seasons of Love' from the Broadway musical, Rent. Other Broadway veterans include Steve BlanchardMeredith Inglesby,  and James Judy join Johnny StellardJordan Tyson...

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Showing Up to the Good Fight

If you had asked me a year ago if I'd be back on Broadway in Wicked and also book an episode of the Good Fight on CBS All Access I would have said, "are you crazy?"

Alas, in the last six months, that is exactly what happened and I'm shook. (as the tiktok says) I didn't expect my episode of the Good Fight to air during a quarantine, but it was so exciting when my friends started texting me. 

I got to a play a well-dressed entrepreneur who's wife is trying to get as much as she can out of the divorce. I loved being on set with such talented actors, and especially to have someone else dress me. 

Now, I pretty much wear the same sweats every day!

The day we shot the episode it was 15 below, and I had to walk really far from the train in Brooklyn. I had my own dressing room, which was lovely, and the actress playing my wife was the loveliest. She is a former Broadway actress (Hair) and GORGEOUS.

It took a bout four hours to shoot and I was home in time for dinner. I look...

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How to Create a Stellar Audition Book

Perhaps the most valuable and necessary tool for a soon-to-be Broadway performer is your audition book. This book is something you will lug around EVERYWHERE, and since it’s a shared item with every pianist that you meet in the room, it becomes a reflection of your preparedness.

Obviously, you want to represent yourself well, so an organized, neat book is a must. Luckily, it’s super simple to set up. Here is my checklist for creating an audition book that will help you shine at your next audition.

1) BUST OUT THE SCHOOL SUPPLIES.

Purchase a 3-ring binder that ideally has pockets inside and is no bigger than 2 inches. Any larger than that and the binder becomes too large for the pianist to even handle. Make sure the 3 rings close well and don’t separate; this becomes cumbersome for page turns.

Most importantly, only include the songs you know you’ll sing. You can create a separate binder for vocal coaching and lessons.

2) GO A LITTLE PLAIN JANE.

Your audition...

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How to Take the Note

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Creating a story can be a very vulnerable experience. We put ourselves on display while people watch us portray a character that is brand new to us, and then to get notes after can very easily touch that part of us that already feels exposed.

How many times have you been in a note session, and you hear the other actors defensively explaining their choices on stage? It’s because they feel exposed. It’s a natural reaction to be sensitive in that situation. We’ve all done it at some point, but here’s something to remember before your next notes session with a director.

Don’t take it personally.

Taking the note doesn’t mean take the punches. It may feel like a gut punch to you, but the director is trying to sharpen and hone the story; he’s not thinking of your feelings. Notes sessions are not the time to defend your craft. Simply say THANK YOU and let the note marinate.

After the...

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A Letter to NYC

Dear New York,

When I stepped out of the grungy, dirty, Port Authority Bus Terminal a mere nine-year-old Texas boy surrounded by his Texas family in awe of you and the energy you created, I knew I wanted to live inside you. The first thing you did was hit me with a taxi (true story) and yet I still wanted to live inside you.  When I returned to Texas everyday from that point on was a day I knew would draw me closer to you. I would watch your movies and TV shows and think “one day I'm going to live there.” You drew me like a butterfly to a trashcan-fire. When I moved to you, first to Staten Island to finish my college program, the culture shock was unreal. This Texas boy only knew how to make others happy, what it was like to be surrounded by people who looked and thought just like him, but this Texas boy quickly learned that you would have none of that. You taught me that to survive in NYC, you have to be ready to fight. You have to take late night subway rides and...

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#BroadwayLife Ep. 16 with Jay Armstrong Johnson

I have known Jay Armstrong Johnson for almost 20 years, and I've had the privilege of watching him grow as an artist and amazing human being. He's currently playing Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

In this week’s #BroadwayLife episode, we discuss his early childhood as a professional performer, booking his first Broadway show without an agent and the glorious Halloween side project that fills his creative well.

Jay also shares his beautiful insight on being openly gay in the business and how representation in the entertainment industry has changes over the years. With an impressive career across theatre, TV and film, you won't want to miss what he has to say.

You can follow Jay on Instagram at @jay_a_johnson. You can click here to find tickets to see Jay in Phantom Broadway.

If you enjoyed this week's episode, make sure to subscribe to my mailing list here for more free articles and resources.

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#BroadwayLife Ep. 17 with Jonathan Freeman

This week's #BroadwayLife episode features Jonathan Freeman, who brings to life that sinister Sultan wannabe Jafar in Disney's ALADDIN on Broadway. It's a role he help create 27 years ago for the animated film, adding another iconic Disney villain voice to the history books.

You'd never guess he's originally from Ohio.

In this episode, Jonathan discusses the unusual and surreal experience of recreating a character after so much time has passed, the evolution of Broadway over his long, successful career, and the rise of box-office cache and celebrity culture in the theatre industry.

He also shares how he manages 8 shows a week and how staying open to the audience led him to work on an Oscar-nominated documentary. Plus, you'll learn his advice for living your BEST Broadway life!

You can purchase tickets to see Jonathan in Disney's ALADDIN on Broadway at www.aladdinthemusical.com.

What was your favorite takeaway from the interview with Jonathan? Let me know in the comments...

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Mix Up Your Training With These Insider Tips

I recently started coaching high school students on their college auditions for Musical Theatre. It’s fascinating to see where their knowledge is at such a young age and the similarities in the professional world.

So many of these students are looking forward to getting their college training but then also set the expectation that once they get that training under their belt, they are done. It has been a good reminder that so many students are attending college programs unprepared for the reality ahead of them.

Specifically, training doesn’t stop after your degree. You must always be studying.

Taking classes is how you get better, of course, but in addition to that, it’s how you meet the people that will help you get where you want to go professionally. If you’re waiting to be discovered at open calls, perhaps taking class is a better way to create a community and prepare for the next step.

Here are my top suggestions to help you find the places to study that...

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How To Stay Disciplined (When It's Not Your Strong Suit)

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Discipline... UGH! I’ve never been one to be very disciplined.

Truth be told, I marvel at the people I’ve worked with who get to every show an hour and half early to do a full body warm up and vocalize. I’m lucky if I can sing in the shower and do some stretching.

All joking aside, staying disciplined consistently is not an easy task. One of the most challenging things about a career in the theatre is the constant change of schedule. You have to be able to turn your schedule on a dime so that you’re available for opportunities when they arrive.

So, if you’re like me and can’t really stay disciplined well on your own, here’s some tips on how to make it a reality.

1) FORGIVE YOURSELF

Just accept it; you’re not the most disciplined person, but you don’t have to be to have a long successful career on Broadway. You need drive and a willingness (plus talent), that’s all.

2) ASK FOR HELP

People innately want to help...

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