Performing Arts

Weekly conversations and insights on the fine line between setback and success in the performing arts. Fellow creatives share their own journey as artists and the lessons learned along the way with host Patrick Oliver Jones, an actor who knows first-hand the ups and downs we all face.

Episodes

When it comes to work as an actor, there’s that old adage of "feast or famine" or "when it rains it pours." For myself that has meant going 11 months without any work…all while still auditioning of course.  While there have been other times when three shows come up at once, and I had to decide which ONE of them I’m going to do.

In Part Two of my conversation with Rodney Hicks, we’re going to be talking about the feasts and famines of his career -- various shows and original casts he’s been a part of as well as the shows he didn’t get and the lessons he’s learned from both experiences. As he shared in Part One, Come From Away marked a time in Rodney’s life that was certainly a feast. Not only was the show a wonderful chance for him to create and perform a rich character, but the show itself was getting a lot of buzz and it opened on Broadway with a lot of fanfare and high expectations. At the same time other aspects of his performing and coaching career were also taking off.

But his diagnosis of spasmodic dysphonia and it’s unfortunate progression took him in a very unexpected direction. And that’s where we pick up our conversation today: a look at everything that was going right in his life and how quickly it all changed. 

We also discuss the upcoming Tony Awards and his bookend contracts in the original Broadway run of RENT.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

Incidental music in this episode is by Hyson is used under Creative Commons License.

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Here in America, we just marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And on the eve of that anniversary a live recording of the Broadway production of Come From Away was released. It featured many past and present members of the cast. But one of the original cast members, Rodney Hicks, was absent from the filming. And in part one of our conversation, Rodney takes us through his long journey with the show and how it came to a sudden end. But he reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is still some light to be found.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

Music in the episode that comes from Soundstripe ("Retreat" by Gold Coast) is used under a Promo Enterprise Agreement.

Other music in the episode provided by Karaoke Queen Brasil is used under Creative Commons.

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As we came to the end of part one of our conversation Will Swenson and I were talking about the deeper questions of who we are as artists and as individuals in the absolute importance of bringing ourselves, our full selves to the stage. This is certainly one of the biggest lessons that we have to learn as actors and performers, and I throw in a couple of questions about lessons he and his wife Audra McDonald have learned from each other.

Also in this episode, the Final Five has been included. Though these five final questions are normally a bonus members-only episode, it's been added here as I try out a slightly different format for the show. What do you think?

But we start off talking about Will’s performance in the Broadway revival of HAIR back in 2009. It was certainly a vast departure from the Will I had known both on stage and off, and it seemed as though that show and the character of Berger in particular allowed him a freedom and an energy that he had never gotten to express on stage before.

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If you'd like to watch Part Two of our conversation on YouTube, then become a WINMI supporter. Click the link below to get access to other special episodes and bonus content as well.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

Music in the episode by Borrtex is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

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For the next three weeks I’ll be talking with two Broadway actors and a music director about their careers in New York and their own thoughts on the Tony Awards and theater in general. I start today with actor and singer Will Swenson, a Tony nominee for his outstanding work in the revival of the musical HAIR back in 2009. He's someone I’ve known since the late 90s when we were working at Disney World in Orlando, both sharing the role of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. We are both baritone leading man, who grew up in the church, and both had first marriages that didn’t last.

We have shared so much in common that one of my initial reasons for bringing him on the podcast was to figure out what I could’ve done differently, what are the one or two things I could’ve done that would’ve let me mirror his path, his career. But instead what I came away with was a greater understanding of shared experience, of commonalities we all have, both professional and personal, that go far deeper than who is better than who or who has a better life or career.

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There’s a lot to digest here, and so I decided to split up our conversation into two parts. In this episode you’re basically getting an intimate conversation between old friends, celebrating the big moments and successes like his Broadway debut, the Mormon films he made, and of course his Tony nomination. But more importantly there’s a lot of listening, learning, and healing as we discuss the low points as well.

If you'd like to watch Part Two of our conversation on YouTube, then become a WINMI supporter. Click the link below to get access to other special episodes and bonus content as well.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

Music in the episode by Borrtex is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Whether from personal experience or hearing stories from the past two episodes on this podcast, you know that almost anything can happen in an audition room. Sometimes it’s magical moments, while other times are filled with frustration. Yet even still, the most “perfect“ audition doesn’t always lead to a call back or a contract. It is this uncertainty that can bring both excitement and dismay. Not to mention the fact that auditioning for the stage is slightly different from auditioning for the screen. And with me today to discuss these differences is television and film actor Darren Darnborough, CEO of WeAudition.

Listeners of this podcast get 25% off a WeAudition Membership by using the promo code WINMI25. https://www.weaudition.com 

Darren grew up in London and started to work as a professional actor around the age of 16. He earned a degree in film and media from the University of London but has also been very entrepreneurial throughout his career. In 2002, for example, he co-created StuckForStaff.com – the world's first online marketplace for promotional staffing. 

But in 2006 he decided to relocate to Los Angeles to focus on his acting career and has appeared on shows like MacGyver, 2 Broke Girls, and True Blood. He was even writer and director of his own film called Stefano Formaggio, which is available on Amazon prime. 

I first met and got to know Darren when he reached out to me as the CEO of WeAudition.com back in January of this year. He is someone truly dedicated and motivated to helping all actors get better at their craft and reach even greater heights in their career. And I’m very proud and grateful that he’s become a big fan of this podcast. You’ll certainly be hearing about more collaborations together in the future. But for today, I sit down with Darren to talk about his own journey as an actor, the wonderful opportunities he’s been given as well as the hard lessons learned along the way. He reveals a lot during our conversation and gave me new perspective not only on auditioning but the art and business of being an actor as well.

Part Two of our conversation can be found at https://youtu.be/IfPxrNynsoU

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

 

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For most theater actors, Broadway is the ultimate status to attain in this industry. It’s the highest level any of us can reach and is the utmost definition of making it. But just because an actor has been on a Broadway stage, it doesn’t mean they don’t go through the same frustrations and doubts that we go through. And that really gets to the heart of Why I’ll Never Make It and especially today’s episode, which is brought to you by We Audition (get 25% off membership with promo code: WINMI25).

This is part two of my focus on Audition Stories the good, the bad, and the hysterical. You’ll hear from the following Broadway stars about the trials and tribulations of auditioning, including those pesky self-tapes...

  • Mykal Kilgore - actor and R&B singer from MOTOWN and HAIR
  • Hannah Elless - actress and singer from GODSPELL and BRIGHT STAR
  • Douglas Sills - iconic leading man from SCARLET PIMPERNEL and THE ADDAMS FAMILY
  • Gabrielle Ruiz - quintessential triple threat from IF/THEN and CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND
  • Geoffrey Owens - actor and director best known as Elvin from THE COSBY SHOW
  • Sally Wilfert - actress and singer from ASSASSINS and KING DAVID
  • Will Swenson (episode coming next month) - actor and singer from WAITRESS and PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT
  • Justin Guarini - American Idol and Broadway actor from WICKED and IN TRANSIT

Here's a special gift to you for listening to these stories (and reading these notes) - a bonus video episode with Adrienne Walker sharing her LION KING audition story. Enjoy!

Get more audition episodes by joining WINMI and supporting the work of this podcast. You can choose a one-time donation or continuous monthly giving with access to bonus content. I love sharing these stories and episodes, and I hope that you'll choose to donate and help WINMI make it. :)

Listen to previous Audition Stories here and check out Artist Resources.

Follow WINMI on Instagram or Twitter - @winmipodcast

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

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This summer has seen actors returning to the stage as some regional theaters have returned to normal with a summer season and live audiences. And with that of course has seen an increase in auditions. So it is with great pleasure and excitement that I welcome you to the third annual Audition Stories here on the podcast. The last time these audition episodes were on the podcast was a month before the Covid shutdown. And there have been a lot of guests with a lot of great stories since then. 

Today’s episode, brought to you by We Audition (promo code: WINMI25), is actually part one of these wonderful tales from the room where it happens. Now, we’ve been doing a lot of self tapes lately, but it's time for a need a reminder of the happy and hysterical things that can happen in person and in front of the audition table. And at the end of this episode none other than Bryan Cranston has some sage words of wisdom we can all apply to auditions and self-tapes. 

Here's the list of former guests sharing their audition experiences:

Get more audition episodes by joining WINMI and supporting the work of this podcast. I love sharing these stories and episodes, and I hope that you'll choose to donate as much as you've benefited yourself from this podcast. Thank you!

Check out Artist Resources and follow WINMI on Instagram or Twitter.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

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For the past week I have been doing a deep dive into podcasting at a yearly conference called Podcast Movement. It's a place where podcasters like me can learn how to make better episodes, conduct riveting interviews, engage with listeners like you even more, and figure out ways to make my podcast both sustainable and profitable. The goal is to give you and future listeners even more reasons to come back week after week for another episode. At last year‘s conference I actually met a guest you’ve already heard from earlier this season, Ashley Monique Menard. 

Listen to Ashley's WINMI episodes and follow her on Instagram.

She is one energetic, fun, and talented lady who talked about her own creative journey and zeroed in on the idea of patience and what we expect from ourselves. Right after she appeared on this podcast, she invited me on her own podcast called Eff Your Fears. It is a bold and deliberate effort to help artists overcome what holds them back. Because as we all know fear is one of the biggest reasons why we’ll never make it. 

So while I’m off learning and growing to a better host and producer of this show, I wanted to share my conversation with Ashley on her podcast. You’ll certainly learn more of my story and hear it from a unique and quirky perspective that only Ashley can bring. 

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 20 Theater Podcast on Feedspot 

Season 5 brings with it a new ways connect with me and the guests and new opportunities to learn and grow as an artist:

All this and more can be found at the website: whyillnevermakeit.com 

 

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Last year I started releasing bonus episodes to those who supported this podcast on a monthly basis. Well, this is one of those special episodes with Kristen Hetzel. I brought along the co-hosts of Olympic podcast Keep the Flame Alive. Jill and Allison ask questions which bring a different perspective to my conversation with this silver and bronze medal duathlete. They ask about Team USA, correlations between acting training and athleticism, and even wonder about guys who challenge Kristen to dumb physical contests. It's a wide ranging talk that offers unique insight for us actors. Thank you Jill and Allison!

  • Support WINMI with one-time donations or monthly giving, please go to the website
  • Sign up for the monthly newsletter 
  • Learn more about Keep the Flame Alive by checking out my recommendation episode
And here's a bit of behind-the-scenes info...
Jill and Alison actually recorded their part separately. I asked Kristen the questions, and then added their audio with some editing magic to create the bonus episode you have here. Enjoy!
 
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As the Olympics head into their second week, it’s been a great reminder of the lessons we as artists can learn from these Olympians.

Remember the episode with Sally Wilfert? She reminded us singers how we are small muscle athletes. And anyone who’s been through a tech rehearsal process knows what a marathon can feel like and striving to reach the finish line.

Mindset and mental health are also so important. Athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka are recent examples of how competition and especially expectation can wear down even the best performers.

In November 2020, WINMI did a five-part series called "Bettering Ourselves, Bettering Our Careers" and in the last episode of that series I spoke with Kristen Hetzel. She is a Team USA silver and bronze medalist in the duathlon (which is running and cycling) and she's also an actress, model, personal trainer, motivational speaker, and holds a doctorate in physical therapy.

Today’s episode is a rewind back to my conversation with Kristen. She shares her secret to getting it on the field and how she overcomes what stands in her way. Most importantly, Kristen gives a lot of insight into how the two worlds of sports and acting are similar and why the discipline and lessons of one can help the other.

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance

 

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