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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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#BroadwayLife Ep. 18 with NaTasha Yvette Williams

This week's #BroadwayLife episode features NaTasha Yvette Williams. NaTasha has been sharing her gifted voice since she was three, singing in the choir at her church, and is now performing on Broadway as Becky in the musical Waitress.

In this episode, NaTasha talks about how she knew she was on the right career path, balancing motherhood with her work life (she has adorable twins!), and how she deals with perfectionism.

NaTasha made her Broadway debut in Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple and has an impressive resume including Porgy and Bess, A Night With Janis Joplin, Hairspray (where we met) and Chicago. She offers her keen insight on the differences between working on a steady, long-running production versus a younger show like Waitress. Plus, you'll learn her secret to living your BEST Broadway life!

You can follow NaTasha on Instagram @natashayvettewilliams, and purchase tickets to see her in Waitress on Broadway at waitressthemusical.com.

What was your...

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Going BIG in 2015

I want to start this year off being incredibly open and honest with you:  Show-Business is hard!  

Once about every six-months, I want to quit and go push people down Space Mountain at Disneyland.

 

It takes daily work to look at the glass half-full, stay empowered and prevent the disease of "Playing Small."  That's why I do daily gratitude lists with my friends, Morning Pages, Meditation and Yoga.  Right now I'm doing the Artist's Way with an awesome group of friends, and the support makes a hell of a difference!

I started the BRETwork as a way to feel empowered in my Acting life and to keep in touch with the people I wanted to keep in touch with, people like YOU!

So, to start the year off I'm setting new goals for myself and I want to share them with you:

1) I want to book a principle role in a Broadway Musical or Play by 2016.

2) I want to book at least 3 co-star or guest star roles on a network television show like...

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How to Be Successful

 

We must start to treat our careers the way we treat our craft! When we are feeling unsettled or afraid, it’s usually because we are living in the past or the future, not the present.

I know for me, if I’m disturbed it’s because I’m afraid something from my past that I didn’t like very much might repeat itself, or that something in the future could happen to screw up what I want. It’s like playing the end of the scene! You’re way too far ahead and missing the journey.

This business and all its built-in ambition and focus on “success” can drive us to forget that everything is happening in this moment, exactly as it’s supposed to be. The reality is that time is an illusion, albeit a persistent one, but an illusion nonetheless. The only thing that exists is this moment, right now, as you’re reading this blog. And no matter what it looks like, everything is just as it should be.

Philosophy lesson...

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Eponine Knows My Secrets

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I was at a store today and saw an old typewriter, It reminded me of my childhood. At 11 years old, I was obsessed with office supplies.  I used to go to my Dad's office when he was on-call and take pens, highlighters, and anything he would let me. When I say obsessed, I mean, I was obsessed with everything I liked.

The National tour of Les Miserables was coming through Houston.  I didn't know anything about the show, except, that Debbie Gibson was playing Eponine on Broadway.  Well, then it must be good!  I had all of her albums and her poster on my wall.  (it's true)

My Mother decided to get us tickets, nosebleed seats, so we got binoculars too.  I found out who was playing Eponine, Candese Marchese, and I was determined to meet her.  This was the closest I was going to get to Debbie.

I got one of my wallet-sized school pictures, and wrote a note to Candese, leaving it at the stage door for her. After...

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