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 theater we all know Broadway and the big lights of New York City. There’s also organizations like the public or playwrights horizons that present notable off Broadway productions as well. But for the most part stage work is done by small to midsize theaters across the country some bring in equity Actors but a lot of them don’t. They are simply gathering together actors, directors, and designers to put on a show to entertain and engage local audiences. 

Well, the music industry is much the same way. There are the A-list stars that go on the Tonight Show and sign record deals with Sony or Motown records. But most of the music being produced in America is done by smaller independent artists who simply love the joy of performing and songwriting. Sydney Irving is someone who was born to sing and perform, you can hear it from the moment you press play on any one of her five albums. As a native of Syracuse New York, Sydney’s first album was released when she was only 14 and her latest is an EP that just came out in May. And last year she was twice named artist of the year by two different organizations.

Being a teenage female singer songwriter, it’s probably no surprise that she looks up to Taylor Swift and was inspired by her to pick up the guitar and start writing music. But Sydney‘s influences don’t stop there. She’s into Barnes Courtney, post Malone, and Ryan Adams. But also surprisingly she pulls a lot of influence from older artists Like AC/DC, the doors, and her current favorite Tom Petty. 

We will certainly be talking about those influences and how they’ve impacted her own singing and songwriting. And you’ll even get to hear a song off of her latest EP all I need is you at the end of this episode. But first we talk about the early success that she’s had in her career and the hard work it took to get her there as well as her disregard for social media and why she prefers other ways to connect with friends, family, and her fans. 

After getting a chance to meet and talk with her I certainly count myself among one of her fans, and I’m sure by the end of this conversation you’ll be one too.

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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 this episode by Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

"All I Need Is You" by Sydney Irving is also used with permission.

 

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Communication and interacting with each other through words is really at the heart of what it means to connect and relate to other people. This is even more clear as actors and writers in the way that we tell stories and share experiences. Clear and understandable communication is a vital part of the performing arts. We do this through dance, visual media, physical gestures, and other ways, but most importantly though language. 

For Damian Thompson, this of course has been an essential part of his career, from Shakespeare productions like MacBeth and King Lear, to contemporary plays like Angels in America and Little Rock. He even wrote and starred in his own short film called Black?

But it hasn’t always been easy for him to communicate verbally , especially in auditions and cold readings. As a young child he suffered from a speech disorder that affects approximately 3 million Americans speakers, and that is stuttering. 

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And so in today’s conversation we talk about things that Damian has had to overcome. We even get into the importance of not only diverse but accurate representation within the arts. But we start of with Damian sharing how his stuttering and Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream" speech eventually led him into theater…with a little help for Dawson’s Creek. 

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Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 15 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 Hyson is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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in many ways today’s episode is almost a masterclass from beginning to end in how to bridge the gap between being artist and an entrepreneur. Ashley Danyew is a musician and educator who shares how she has had to branch out in many different directions to build both an enjoyable and sustainable career. 

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Even before the pandemic, the life of any artist was one of constant change. Times when you have more work than you know what to do with and other long stretches of time where you have to take other side jobs just to keep going. For centuries the term "jack of all trades" has been used to describe an individual who knows a variety of skills and is able to bring these disciplines together in a practical and ideally profitable manner. In more recent years, though, “jack of all trades” has become synonymous with another term: multi-hyphenate, especially when it comes to actors and other artists who branch out beyond their main creative focus. But in my conversation today with Ashley Danyew, we will be talking about yet another term: the portfolio artist

A few years ago The Guardian wrote about the need for more portfolio musicians. The article says, “As 21st-century professional practitioners, a musician must not only excel as a performer, but also as a teacher, leader, and creative collaborator across a range of styles and genres.” It goes on to say that artists and musicians are increasingly engaging with people, places and digital technology, producing all sorts of environments for creation and performance, with an ever-greater blurring of boundaries between artforms.

Now, in addition to all this artistic creativity, we must also be entrepreneurs who thrive as much on the business side as we do the performance. That of course can be much easier said than done. Especially during times like this past year with the pandemic. Ashley even had her own devastating setback when she lost her voice and had to learn how to just speak and sing again. Through that experience and others, Ashley learned how important it is to pivot throughout our careers and find work in a variety of way. And so in today’s episode she shows through her own experiences as a teacher, musician and performer how each of us can blend the creative and corporate halves of our career together, in a more seamless and sustainable way.

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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 and Podington Bear is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Well, here we are at the third and final installment of my young artist series. And it could be argued that I’ve saved the most prolific artist for last. As both a performer and writer, Joshua Turchin has crammed a lot of experience into his very young career. Whether it’s on stage at the Hollywood bowl or a national tour OR composing his own award-winning musical OR Music directing his weekly cabaret series, Joshua certainly stays busy. Oh yeah, he also has school and homework to deal with as well.

And so in the conversation you’re about to hear we’ll talk about the many facets of his creativity, and how he learned to play 11 instruments and compose his first musical at the age of 11 called The Perfect Fit. The New York Times reviewed his musical, saying "Joshua Turchin proves his worth as a composer, actor and a book writer, delivering a richly layered show about the lives and loves of showbiz preadolescents."

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I have to admit it’s artists like Joshua that make me realize I haven’t done as much with my own career as I could’ve or should’ve. That being said, we can all learn a thing or two from this teenage musical tour de force. Joshua is a beautiful light with a never-ending positive attitude, whose smile and spirit are definitely contagious. 

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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 the episode by Chad Crouch is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

 

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Being a coach and leading master classes has been something I truly enjoyed doing. Imparting my experience and insights to students and watching them have those a-ha moments and discovering something new about themselves or their own skills and talents. But sometimes it’s good to flip that around and ask those just starting out their career what THEY have learned so far and where THEY see not only themselves going in this career but where the industry is going as a whole. So for the next three episodes I’m going to be talking to young artists about what they’ve discovered along their own journeys.

And I begin today with actor, writer, director, and producer Alex J Dean, who is actually graduating from film school this month. What a time to be starting an arts career, huh? But as you listen to our conversation I think you’ll recognize that he has a pretty good head on his shoulders that will enable him to navigate these very strange and tumultuous times.

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Alex started out as an actor on stage and on screen, and was co-host of the award-winning Nerdtabulous series. Even in real life he has embraced the nerd moniker, as a fan of Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Japanese anime. So it should come as no surprise that Alex has found a real home behind the camera as a director and writer, creating worlds and stories from his own imagination. His final thesis project for college was a horror anthology film, with plans to release it later this summer or early in the fall under his own production company Penny Arcade Pictures.

So suffice it to say, Alex loves to stay busy and immerse himself and creativity and production. But as you and I know this is certainly a tough time to get started in the arts field, and that is where we begin our conversation today.

Follow Alex - IMDB / Instagram 

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

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In the last episode we learned the importance of producing our own work as actors. Well today's guest, Joel B. New, will show us that just because you build it doesn't mean people will come. After the hard work of creating, then comes the daunting task of producing and promoting it, getting others to take notice and support that work. Learn how Joel found unique ways to get the word out on one of his own musicals.

"Strong Hands" - performed by Ernie Pruneda
"The Fort" - performed by Marita Stryker

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Follow Joel - Website / Instagram / YouTube 

Joel's Birthday Concert - https://joelbnew.com/birthday

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Season 5 offers ways to connect with me and the guests as well as other opportunities to grow as an artist:

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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At one point or another there is a lesson that all actors have to learn, and this past year has driven home that lesson even more so, and that is the need to create our own work. Today’s guest, Ashley Kate Adams, Not only added producing to her already sizable acting resume, but she put all of her thoughts and lessons learned into a new book called Be Your Own Producer. 

#BYOP - https://amzn.to/3wUPUF9 (pre-order for August publication)

Join WINMI - http://whyillnevermakeit.com

Follow Ashley - Website / Instagram / Twitter 

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Season 5 offers ways to connect with me and the guests as well as other opportunities to grow as an artist:

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 by Borrtex is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

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On today’s podcast journalist Marcus Scott shares his love of telling stories and how he suddenly found himself writing musicals. 

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Real life writing, that’s really the best way to describe the kind of work Marcus does. It’s something of the moment. It's meaningful, insightful, and true to the experiences that Marcus knows firsthand or has researched down to a minute detail. And one of the most ever present issues affecting Artist right now is the pandemic, and even through this hardship Marcus continues to grow as a an artist and a writer. 

Besides the pandemic, the social justice and race issues of the past year have been particularly inspiring to Marcus‘s writing.

Follow Marcus - Website / LinkedIn / Twitter 

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Season 5 offers ways to connect with me and the guests as well as other opportunities to grow as an artist:

Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, is a part of Helium Radio Network, and is 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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Fifty years ago this month 10 people were inducted into the songwriters Hall of Fame. Included on that list are well-known names like duke Ellington, Ira Gershwin, and Alan J Lerner. The only woman in that group was Dorothy Fields. But despite her talents for lyrics and storytelling, her journey to becoming a songwriter wasn’t easy. In fact, there were some pretty big roadblocks in her way.

This episode Is presented in conjunction with Maestra Music.

Women's History Month continues wirth part two of my conversation with musical theater historian Kristin Stultz Pressley. We dig a little deeper into her Dorothy Fields biography: I can’t give you anything but love baby. We discuss what it was like for a woman writer in a man’s world, how Fields transitioned from one decade to the next, from one musical genre to another, and we get into this idea of fame and success and what that meant to Dorothy Fields.

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Season 5 offers new ways to connect with me and the guests as well as new opportunities to learn and grow as an artist:

Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot and a member of Broadway Makers Alliance.

Music in the episode by Chad Crouch, Bortexx, Kevin Macleod, and Latch Swing is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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This week for Women’s History Month, I’m sharing a special conversation with Dr. Broadway about prolific lyricist and librettist Dorothy Fields, who collaborated with some of the most iconic and legendary composers in Broadway history. For much of the Golden Age of the American musical, Fields was one of the only women writing for the Broadway theatre.

This episode Is presented in conjunction with Maestra Music.

Even if the name Dorothy Fields isn't completely familiar to you, her songs and musicals are some of the most well-known words in the Great American Songbook:

  • On the Sunny Side of the Street
  • A Fine Romance
  • The Way You Look Tonight
  • Hey, Big Spender
  • It's Not Where You Start

Kristin Stultz Pressley first appeared in Season Two, talking about the Tony awards and musical theater history in general. Well, she is back and talking about her new book, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby, chronicling the remarkable life and career of one of the most successful female songwriters of all time. (Find the book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/38sPxXQ)

Get the WINMI Newsletter - join.whyillnevermakeit.com

Follow Kristin - Website / Instagram / Twitter / PhD Dissertation on Fields

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Season 5 offers new ways to connect with me and the guests as well as new opportunities to learn and grow as an artist:

Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot 

Music in the episode by Crowander and Latch Swing is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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