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.


Meredith and I continue our conversation from the previous episode as she answers the Final Five questions. She shares her national tour ambitions and her love of interior design as well as what she learned from Ali Stroker.

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The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. 

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In honor of Dysautonomia Awareness Month, Meredith Aleigha Wells joins the podcast to share her struggles and challenges onstage and in life all from the vantage point of a wheelchair. After becoming disabled at the age of 19, Meredith performed in a college workshop production of the new musical Donny Johns, making UMass Amherst history as the first actor who uses a wheelchair to perform in a Mainstage production.

Meredith graduated with a Bachelor's Degree with Individualized Concentration in Musical Theatre. Immediately after graduation, Meredith moved to Cleveland, Ohio to dance with Dancing Wheels, a physically integrated touring repertory company.

In this episode, she opens up about the hard-fought lessons she has been through and how much more there is learn, both in herself and for others.

Topics discussed in this episode:
 - Mayo Clinic Physician Philip Fischer, MD 
 - 10 Facts about POTS 
 - Dancing Wheels Company founder Mary Verdi-Fletcher 
 - What does the 30th anniversary of the ADA mean to youth with disabilities? - Youth Today 
 - Able-Bodied Actors Play 95% of Disabled Characters - Variety 
 - Ali Stroker's Tony Award acceptance speech 

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Well, I hope you listened to our previous conversation because Bianca is back to answer the Final Five questions. She shares her disappointment in not getting to play Evita but also her joy to portray Chita Rivera in the hit TV show Fosse. She also goes deeper into her love of family and being a stepmom.

Would you like to answer the Final Five questions? Let me know at


The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode.

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In today's wide-ranging conversation with Bianca Marroquin, one of the issues she addresses is that of language and accent. Growing up near the Texas border, she had the opportunity to learn both languages. So in addition to being the first Mexican woman ever to land a leading role on Broadway, she is also the only one ever to do Chicago in two different languages.

Yet in the 18 years since the Broadway debut as Roxie Hart, she has still faced confusing and ignorant statements from casting directors and reporters, for example, regarding their expectations of what a Mexican is or should be. At the end of this episode I'll shine a spotlight on this week's Hispanic Icon, John Leguizamo, who has a few things to teach us about Latin History

But first, Bianca and I discuss an issue we are all dealing with as artists: the state of theater and the arts during this pandemic and what that might look like in COVID's aftermath.

Since childhood Bianca's life has been one filled with change. Though she was born in Monterrey, she grew up living on the Mexican side of the border in Matamoros, yet went to school on the Texas side in Brownsville. She first studied dance at the age of three but by high school was also learning flamenco, jazz, and tap. For college she wanted to study in Spain but her father insisted on a technical college in Monterrey, where she majored in Communications with the intention of becoming a reporter.

But she soon found her dancing feet again in a flamenco company as well as various festivals and concerts. She had made a name for herself, so much so that by the time she was doing Roxie Hart in the Spanish version of Chicago in Mexico City, she won best actress and caught the attention of Chicago's Broadway producers. And in 2002 she came to NYC in the show and role that has come to be the one constant in her life.


CBS News - Language Barriers Cause Problems

Patrick Swayze on working with Bianca Marroquin in LA 

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Luis Salgado was born and raised in Puerto Rico and studied theater there at the University of Puerto Rico. He moved to New York City in 2012 and it was slow going at first for him to book work. But eventually things started to click for him and his career as featured as many credits on stage as off stage, behind the scenes, in addition to film and television work.
But this year has not been kind to so many artists, and work has come to a grinding halt. And so Luis brought himself and his family back to Puerto Rico during this pandemic. And being back has give him a chance to connect with others around all Latin America.
You see, back in 2008 while he was performing his Broadway debut with in the Heights, Luis began a nonprofit organization called Revolucion Latina. Their mission is to activate individuals and promote human growth through artistic experiences they can lead to personal transformation and social change within the Latinx community. And so with his performing career on hold, Luis has been able to focus solely on his organization and reaching out to others.

Follow Luis: Website / Facebook / Twitter 

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Music and Sound Bites used in this episode:

"Bom Jardim" by Lobo Loco
"Latin Rhythm" by Sunsearcher
"Hot Salsa Trip" by Arsonist
"Escape" (Karaoke Track) by Rupert Holmes
"True Blue Sky" and "Copley Beat" by Blue Dot Sessions
"Smooth Actor" by Podington Bear
"Ayer" (Karaoke Track) - Gloria and Emilio Estefán
"Somewhere Nice" by John Bartman
"Meekness" by Kai Engel

Lin Manuel Miranda on CBS Good Morning 
VOX - Why Puerto Rico Is Not a US State 
Oscar Hijuelos on New Mexico PBS 
Keez in the Pen with DC-7 

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After our conversation on the previous episode, Chaz answers the Final Five. But first, he shares a hilarious audition story, then goes into his dream to work in physical therapy as well as how he learned the importance of preparation. 


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Samantha Figgins is currently in her sixth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. But what many people don't know is that this gorgeous dancer suffers from single-sided deafness. As a baby, Figgins contracted spinal meningitis, which caused her to lose all hearing in her right ear. She never gave up on her dance dreams, though, and fought her way through uncomfortable situations, never missing an opportunity to learn and grow. In this episode, she shares her love of dance, her passion in telling stories, and the discipline that makes it all possible.

Listen to the previous episode all about Alvin Ailey.

Dance Spirit cover in 2013 

Watch Samantha dance in Revelations on TED: 

Follow her: Instagram / Twitter 


WINMI is a Top 20 Podcast thanks to you! 

Join the WINMI community: Instagram or Twitter (@winmipodcast) 
Reach out with any questions or comments: 
The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode.


"I Been 'Buked" and "Fix Me, Jesus" arranged by Hall Johnson. G. Schirmer, Inc., publisher and copyright owner.

"Kitty In The Window" by Podington Bear is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License. Based on a work at

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When it comes to the performing arts and certainly to dance, there are few people more worthy of admiration, of inspiration and imitation than Alvin Ailey. He was both uniquely gifted and qualified to tell the African-American experience which he lived and saw and reacted to through the art of dance. 

If you follow me or the podcast on social media, you know that I’m a white man who also grew up in the South. I was certainly witness to and heard tinges of racism growing up, but was fortunately sheltered for the most part from those who held such a deep-seeded hatred. A bigotry that Ailey knew first-hand. Growing up in the South, he had his own struggles with self-esteem due to the acts of racial violence so prevalent in those formative years.
Within the theater, we have playwrights and lyricists who can put difficult feelings and hard lessons into words. They show us parts of humanity that can be both glorious and despicable. But theater is not with us right now, the stage is silent. And so in the last few days, in light of the events that led to George Floyd‘s death and its aftermath, I have looked for and listened to past voices for both understanding and action, comfort and courage. 
One of my most treasured experiences and memories of being here in New York City is getting to watch the Alvin Ailey American dance concerts each winter and summer. They consist of powerful and moving performances by amazingly talented dancers. And so it was only natural that my thoughts would go to the stories and emotions told through the pieces that Alvin Ailey choreographed himself, namely his iconic Revelations, which was inspired by his involvement within the Southern Black church. In fact, all of his work came forth from the people and places and experiences of his life. 
People and choreography discussed: 

Videos and interviews used in the making of this episode:


The time and expense needed to compile and edit this epiosde was at times challenging but ultimately rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode. 

For further insights on the topics covered in this episode follow on Twitter @winmipodcast: 

Quotes and unreleased audio clips follow on Instagram @winmipodcast: 

Do you have questions or stories of your own? Share them with me: 


Music used in this episode:

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On the second half of AUDITION STORIES we dive into the comparison game with Justin Guarini. This kind of jealousy is so common to actors and affects us in the audition room more than we know.

Former guests share their experiences from onstage to on-camera, from the wonderful to the embarrassing, and everything in-between. (Listen to Part One as well.)

Those featured in this episode:



I want this podcast to be a resource for you as you discover more ways to pursue a career in this industry and sustain it through the many ups and downs that follow. You can always reach out to me:

Also, don't forget Miata Edoga's special financial empowerment offer for WINMI listeners from Abundance Bound.
For further insights and unreleased audio clips of these episodes, you can be a part of the WINMI community on Twitter and Instagram (@winmipodcast).

Lastly, this podcast is supported through kind donations of listeners like you by buying me a coffee.

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ASTEP was conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students. It’s goal was to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.
ASTEP is deeply committed to empowering individuals who suffer from an absence of choice, especially children. The right to choose is a fundamental human right, and we strive to end the poverty that robs us of that humanity. The performing and visual arts create a unique safe space to rediscover choice.
To talk about that mission as well as the recruiting and training of volunteer teaching artists is ASTEP’s Manager of Programs, Samantha Manfredi. She shares how these programs currently serve youth affected by immigration status, homelessness, gun-violence, incarceration, the justice system, HIV/AIDS, systemic poverty, and the caste system. Yet despite all these challenges ASTEP finds a way to reach these young people and change their lives. 
The Teaching Artists are highly successful Broadway performers, professional artists, or students and faculty from schools such as Juilliard, offering a variety of disciplines such as dance, visual art, music, and drama. They become transformative role models by combining their passion for the arts and their ability to use artistic tools to teach important life skills to young people around the world.
Learn how you can support ASTEP through a DONATION or as a TEACHING ARTIST.
Join the WINMI community by following on Instagram or Twitter as well as reaching out to Patrick with any questions or comments:
Your donation will go directly into the podcast, helping to grow the WINMI community and allowing me to do so with greater ease and effectiveness. I wouldn't be here without listeners like you, so your donations are greatly appreciated. All donors will be recognized in a future episode for their generosity.
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