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Why I‘ll Never Make It
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Why I‘ll Never Make It

Author: Patrick Oliver Jones

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The actor’s journey is one of occasional highs and frequent lows. It is a path riddled with self-doubt and frustration as we question our career choices, wondering if we’ll ever really ”make it.” But it is those few moments of glory on stage or screen that can sustain us through all the setbacks and challenges. On this award-winning podcast, New York actor Patrick Oliver Jones invites fellow creatives to share stories of failure and persistence in their lives and careers. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the creative life rarely seen in the glitz and glam of this industry that reminds us we’re not alone in this often bumpy and winding journey of the performing arts.

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In the previous episode you heard from theater writer and director Rob Melrose, who is the artistic director of Alley Theatre in Houston. He shared what it means to create and produce his own works and others. Well, now Rob is back to talk about lessons he’s learned behind the table as well as from a heart attack he suffered two years ago by answering the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In a recent opinion piece for The Daily Iowan, a vital point was made about the importance of regional theater. It said “not every production is ultra famous, boasting popular actors in leading rules. But every production is important.” (I even posted about it on WINMI’s instagram feed, which you can follow: @winmipodcast.) The point being made was that Broadway may get all the attention, but it is in venues across the country, including college theaters, where the true heart and soul of theater resides. They bring diverse stories to local communities, they nurture new talent, and ultimately keep the art form vibrant and accessible to so many people of all backgrounds and experiences. And today’s guest has been on a mission to bring live theater to as wide an audience as possible. Rob Melrose faced many challenges in founding the Cutting Ball Theater, which involved a lot of crap, literally, and we’ll discuss his current position at The Alley Theatre and the unique audition of sorts he had to go through to land that leadership role. But what’s truly fascinating is the work he’s done as a writer of new works and translator of existing plays. And by wearing many hats in theater from writer and director to producer, he’s learned valuable lessons not only for his own career but for the theater arts as a whole. Support Cutting Ball in its efforts to remain open by donating here. ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Last week you heard from actor and producer Aaron Ronnie Almani as he shared his creative journey from New York to Isreal and back again. We discussed audition challenges and even personal tragedies he witnessed in Isreal. Well, now Ronnie is back to talk about how to find fulfillment and balance in our creative life by answering the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. ---------- To listen to bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The art of theater and acting is a cornerstone of cultures globally, serving as a powerful medium for storytelling, expression, and communal reflection. It allows societies to explore and challenge social norms, convey historical and contemporary narratives, and foster a shared cultural identity through performances that resonate with audiences. For actors like Aaron Ronnie Almani, the discipline of theater and acting goes beyond mere performance; it is a transformative journey. The rigorous training and diverse roles demand deep emotional exploration and empathy, fostering personal growth and self-awareness. This immersive process enhances an actor's understanding of the human condition, cultivating a profound sense of connection and authenticity both on stage and in real life. ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the previous episode you heard from theater director Schele Williams as she shared her journey from actress to director. We discussed her work in two of this season’s most highly anticipated Broadway shows: The Wiz and The Notebook. Well, now Schele is back to talk about the importance of gratitude and what it means when she puts her name on a theater project by answering the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. Schele mentions Black Theater United in our conversation, learn more about this organization here. ---------- To listen to bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The 2024 Tony Awards were certainly a night to remember, celebrating a very full Broadway season filled with remarkable performances and groundbreaking productions. Yet amidst the accolades and celebrations, some highly anticipated shows were left without a single nomination. One of these was The Wiz, a revival production directed by the wonderful Schele Williams. But despite the lack of Tony recognition, Williams' work on The Wiz has made its mark on Broadway this year with near capacity crowds at every performance and averaging more than $1.4 million dollars each week since it opened back in April. But Schele wasn’t content with just one Broadway show this season, she was also part of the directing team for The Notebook musical. However, her illustrious career actually began as an actress, performing in iconic Broadway productions such as Rent and Aida, and eventually transitioned to directing. Her journey from celebrated performer to visionary director has been marked by perseverance and a commitment to amplifying diverse voices. As the first Black woman to direct a musical on Broadway in more than 40 years, she hopes her work this year will inspire kids of all backgrounds to follow their dreams. Here are her three stories: Schele shares her journey from being a child prodigy drummer to choosing a path in musical theater (Her father is famed drummer James "Diamond" Williams of the Ohio Players). We delve into her memories of seeing The Wiz as a child and the profound effect it has had on her, ultimately leading to her directing its first Broadway revival. We discuss the personal trials she faced as her mother struggles with Alzheimer's and how it influenced her decision to co-direct The Notebook with her longtime friend and collaborator Michael Greif. So listen as we explore the remarkable career of Schele Williams and the stories that shaped her path in the world of theater. ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. A snippet of "I Want to Be Free" by the Ohio Players was used to highlight James "Diamond" Williams on drums. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As I leave New York City to join the North American Tour of Beetlejuice (to play the role of Otho and understudy Charles and Maxie) I wanted to share a special rewind episode of my memorable conversation with Kelvin Moon Loh from 2019, the original Otho on Broadway and a wonderful friend, who was an invaluable resource during my auditions for the show.  In this episode, Kelvin shares the story of how he landed the role of Otho and his own unique audition process. He also gushes about his fellow cast members and the show's journey from movie to musical. This chat goes beyond the fun and macabre world of Beetlejuice to touch on the broader aspects of the theater business, discussing what keeps us going and how to treasure the moments along the way. ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the previous episode you heard from Conor Tague, one of the stars from the Broadway musical How to Dance in Ohio. He shared his experiences in that history-making production as well as the struggles he faced early on as an actor, both at school and in the audition room. Well, now Conor is back to talk more about his Broadway debut and share how auditioning is still a challenge for him by answering the Final Five questions in this bonus episode. To listen to bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Every Broadway season, one of the most heated discussions about the Tony Awards centers the snubs—those notable shows that didn’t get any nominations. This year they include musicals like The Wiz, Harmony, and The Heart of Rock and Roll. Another one of those shows that was left out made history as being the first Broadway musical to cast autistic actors in autistic roles, and it was called How to Dance in Ohio, based on a Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name. And today's guest is one of the stars of the musical, Conor Tague. The musical dates back to early 2018 when the legendary Harold Prince announced he was working on a musical adaptation of the film. But after Prince died the following year, it was Sammi Cannold, a former guest of this podcast, who took over as the show’s director. How to Dance is the real-life story of a group of young autistic adults and their families as they prepare for their first-ever formal dance. They face challenges and changes to their routines, and they experience all the things you go through when it comes to formal dances and asking someone out on a date—the love and stress and excitement of it all. The musical began previews on November of 2023, officially opening the following month, and played through February of this year.  Though completely shut out of the Tony Awards, How to Dance did receive Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Book of a Musical (Rebekah Greer Melocik) and Outstanding Lead Performance (Liam Pearce). Conor and I talk about his experience with the show, but we also dig into his background and how his autism may be a unique and important part of him, but it’s also just one facet of who he is as person and performer. ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Last week you heard from theater director Des McAnuff as he shared his experiences with three of his biggest shows, Tommy, Jersey Boys, and Big River. We discussed his approach to each of these unique musicals. Well, now Des is back to talk his musicianship and his composition efforts as well as share the lessons and insecurities he’s discovered in the director’s chair by answering the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. To listen to bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Who's Tommy is back on Broadway for its first revival, 30 years after the original production. And directing this revival is the original director from that first Broadway run, Des McAnuff. While he is known for his work in musicals, he is also quite adept in the works of Shakespeare and other classical works, having been Artistic Director of Canada‘s Stratford Festival. And we will touch on some of his other projects, but today’s conversation will mostly focus on three of his standout shows: Tommy and this season’s revival of it, the Best Musical smash hit Jersey Boys, and his Broadway debut and first Tony award for Big River. We talk about his penchant for doing musicals that feature pop music scores, and why some people look down on “jukebox musicals.” (03:14) The Dodgers theatrical group and his directing in Canada (08:53) Story #1 - Tommy (25:43) Story #2 - Jersey Boys (36:18) Story #3 - Big River ---------- Subscribe to get early and ad-free access to the full conversation with each guest, which includes the auditions stories that are only available to subscribers. You can also donate to WINMI and help further podcast production with a one-time or ongoing contribution. If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the previous episode, you heard theater producer and historian Jack Viertel share stories of how his talents and interests weren’t in acting, his interactions with playwrights like Lanford Wilson, and the process of adapting a novel into a musical. Now he’s back to talk about his new book Broadway Melody as well as share more lessons learned by answering the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. To listen to bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jack Viertel has the kind of knowledge I wish I had about Broadway history, having studied the various journeys of great shows for his book The Secret Life of the American Musical, but he’s also worked with playwrights like August Wilson and Tony Kushner. He’s even conceived the long running Smokey Joe's Café and the critically acclaimed After Midnight and served as dramaturg as well for Hairspray and Dear Evan Hansen. And through his many colleagues over the years he’s learned the fine art of collaboration.  Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Theater can serve as a powerful platform for difficult discussions, especially offering a space for nuanced exploration of racial dynamics. It allows audiences to empathize with characters from diverse backgrounds, challenging preconceptions and fostering dialogue. It provides a visceral experience that can elicit strong emotions and provoke introspection. Kerry Sandell and Marci Duncan wrote such a play that was born from their own backgrounds, preconceptions, and even misunderstandings. They took on a difficult subject yet were both open to where it would take them. For the purposes of our conversation today, it’s important to note that Kerry is white and Marci is black. Yet they not only share a common birthplace and are both mothers, but they each have a deep affection and appreciation for the performing arts. And by showcasing diverse perspectives, these two use theater to foster more inclusive storytelling and promote compassion. Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sara Gettelfinger's Broadway debut came in 2000 with the musical Seussical. And she worked steadily on Broadway through the years until she and I met and worked together on The Addams Family national tour in 2011. But then she had to take a break from acting, a break from New York City as well. And except for an Off-Broadway musical in 2014, Sara focused instead on her life and let the career she loved so much take a back seat. She’s now back on Broadway in a new musical, Water for Elephants, that opened at the Imperial Theatre on March 21st. We sat down during the preview process, and she openly talks about the struggle and warning signs that led up to her long absence as well as the lessons she’d had to learn, both personally and professionally. Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As we talked about in Part One, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is what put Gabrielle Ruiz on the map. However, it was her theater training and performance abilities that made it possible for her to be cast in the show. In this rewind episode from 2021, we talk more about her time on the stage and what drives her most as an artist. Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the previous episode, you heard actress and singer Ann Harada share her stories of grinding it out as an Asian actress trying to fit in with what she thought casting directors wanted but then discovered her superpower as an artist, being herself. Now she’s back to share more lessons she’s learned and answer the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode of Why I’ll Never Make It. To get more bonus content like Auditions Stories and get early access to these full conversations ad-free, become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ann Harada will be the first to tell you that finding happiness and satisfaction in the acting business didn’t come quickly or easily for her. In fact, her first Broadway credit came as a production assistant, not as an actor. She followed that up with ensemble roles in M. Butterfly and Suessical. But between those two shows was a ten-year gap, and it wasn’t until her next Broadway show that Ann Harada truly made a name for herself as Christmas Eve in Avenue Q. In our conversation, she talks about those lean years before Avenue Q but also how she has had continue working hard and pushing herself even after her breakout role at the tender age of 39. Listen to Ann's recent performance in BPN's audio drama TWITS. Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Last week you heard actress, writer, and entrepreneur Lydia-Renee Darling share her stories of growing up in an immigrant household and then her own experiences of living and working in other countries as an artist. Now she’s back to answer the Final Five Questions in this bonus episode. To get more bonus content like Auditions Stories and listen to these full conversations ad-free, then become a subscriber by going to whyillnevermakeit.com and click Subscribe. Podcast theme music created by host and producer Patrick Oliver Jones. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Lydia-Renee Darling is the very definition of a well rounded, multi hyphenate artist. She got her BFA in musical theater from Webster University in St. Louis and a Masters in writing for stage and broadcast media from the Royal Central School in London. She’s a filmmaker and a playwright and founded her own DEI entertainment marketing and virtual production company called Oh! (My Gosh) Creative. Being someone who has both embraced and been challenged by changes throughout her life, Lydia-Renee shares with us how they serve as a motivation to continually better herself as an artist and an individual.  Subscribe or Donate to WINMI Subscribing helps support this podcast, while also giving early access to extended conversations and other bonus content. Donating can be done on a one-time on ongoing basis. So whether you subscribe or donate, your financial contribution to this podcast is greatly appreciated! If you'd like to support WINMI but have limited funds to do so, then contact me directly for reduced-price or even free access to the bonus content.   Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is an award-winning, Top Theater Podcast with actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media. Background music is by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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