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The Spotlight Series

Author: Patrick Oliver Jones

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Conversations with entrepreneurs and creatives making a difference in the arts and beyond. A production of WINMI Media and hosted by actor/singer Patrick Oliver Jones.
9 Episodes
Throughout history artists have known that music provides benefits for both the creator and the listener. It can affect individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing. This is especially true in the senior community.  Sing For Your Seniors is a nonprofit built around the mission of enriching lives through the universal language of music. They bring professional artists to the communities of seniors in entertain them, to foster inter-generational connection, and most especially to create shared joy. Jackie Vanderbeck is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of SFYS. From her great grandmother, whom she lovingly called Grandma Dee Dee, she realized the enormous therapeutic value of music for seniors, especially those who are showing signs of withdrawal. And so in Grandma Dee Dee’s honor and memory she started SFYS in 2005 as a one-person a cappella hour at the Village Adult Day Center in New York’s West Village. But it has now grown into a much bigger organization, and today Jackie joins me in this Spotlight episode to talk about that journey.  Last summer, she invited me to participate in one of their sessions at the Actors Fund Home in New Jersey. So we also talk about that experience and how SFYS brings hope and joy to a very vulnerable group that is often forgotten by our society. Discussed in today's episode: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (Tom Viola) Alzheimer's Foundation of America Broadway for the Blind The PROM's Broadway Session Donating Pianos Follow Sing For Your Seniors: Website | Instagram | Twitter ---------- For insights and unreleased audio clips of today's interview, you can be a part of the WINMI community on Twitter and Instagram and you can always reach out to me directly: Lastly, this podcast is supported through kind donations of listeners like you:  ---------- Music used in this episode: "Reverie (small theme)" (ft. Pitx), 2010 by _ghost. Licensed to the public under "Stardust" by U.S. Army Blues is licensed under a Public Domain Mark 1.0 License. "Stompin At The Lough" by The Underscore Orkestra is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.  "In Your Arms" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). --- Send in a voice message:
November is National Military Families Month, and in honor of that I have Janine DiVita joining me today to talk about her work with the USO Show Troupe in New York City. Now when most people think of the USO, the first thing that comes to mind, understandably, is the legendary entertainer Bob Hope, who first performed for U.S. troops in California in May 1941, just a few months before the Pearl Harbor. But the USO is certainly much more then any one celebrity. It’s mission is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. For over 77 years, the USO has done just that. And the show troops play a vital role in that mission by entertaining service members and conveying the support of the nation through their uplifting shows. As an actor herself Janine knows firsthand what it takes to reach an audience, and she’ll be joining me next week to talk about work-life balance and how is she maintains her voice and acting chops. In fact, she and I did Bridges of Madison County together this past summer, but during that run she continued to do work for the USO both as an administrator and as a producer. She said down with me recently in the USO offices in New York City to discuss the importance of this organization and what it means to her as well as military service members and their families. She co-founded Empowered Voices, a company that combines dynamic theatrical techniques with traditional prevention education tactics to combat and prevent Sexual Assault within the U.S. Military and beyond, which was an important step in her becoming director of the USO Show Troupe. See how you can support the efforts of the USO. And if you would like to be a part of the show troupe, click here. ---------- Donate to the podcast: Don't forget to check out all the helpful offers available to you through WINMI guests and partners: --- Send in a voice message:
Today I'm are honored to chat with Josie Whittlesey of Drama Club, which provides theater education and programming to incarcerated and paroled youth in New York City. This vastly underserved population is engaged with improv and positive mentorship, giving them rehabilitation and support.  As founder and executive director, Josie works tirelessly to make a difference in these children's lives through the power of self-expression. In this episode, she shares her experiences leading to the formation of Drama Club, working in the prison system, and affecting the lives of those in her classes. Find Drama Club on their website where you can help support their efforts. Also, follow DC on social media: @DramaClubNYC. --- Send in a voice message:
One of the most difficult but important issues we face in the arts is our finances. How to make more of it and how to spend (and save) it in the best way possible. A performing artist's financial life is complex, so it's easy to get confused when trying to organize money. Rebecca Selkowe, head of the Financial Wellness Program at The Actors Fund, covers some of the challenges people working in performing arts and entertainment face when trying to balance variable income and expenses. She also touches briefly on important tax issues. This episode will help you distinguish between regular and irregular income, and determine what this means for building yourself a financial cushion, saving for periodic expenses, and investing for your future. The overall goal of the Financial Wellness program? Establishing a stable method of managing your finances. So check out their free classes and seminars today! Also, learn more about Rebecca and all the work she does to help clients begin to identify options, solidify plans, and take actions that feel authentic, realistic, and sustainable. --- Send in a voice message:
This is Part 3 of my look at the New York Youth Symphony with this episode focusing on their jazz program.  Under the direction of Andy Clausen, the NYYS Jazz Band is a 17-member swing ensemble dedicated to studying, rehearsing, and performing classic big band jazz music. Modeled on the bands of the 1930's and 1940's, the Jazz program preserves this heritage and, keeping with jazz traditions, incorporates it into the current and emerging styles that define the genre for the present generation. Andy is a New York-based composer, trombonist, bandleader, and graduate of The Juilliard School. Hailing from Seattle, Clausen relocated to NYC in 2010 where he enjoys a diverse schedule collaborating with filmmakers, folk and blues artists, classical composers, as well as New York's jazz elite. An active educator, Clausen has taught workshops across the United States. For more info on WINMI and the Spotlight podcast, go to ------------------------------- Intro music and interludes: "Reverie (small theme)" by _ghost 2010 Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) --- Send in a voice message:
This is Part 2 of my look at the New York Youth Symphony focusing on their Musical Theater Composition program, directed by Anna Jacobs. Also featured in this episode are two students in the program, Sydney Altbacker and Tate Robinson. They talk about and perform their new piece "Song for Marilyn" which was written for the class. (Watch the full interview with Sydney, Tate, and two other students on the WINMI YouTube Channel.) In this program, students learn about key songwriting tools, explore the relationship between music and language, and discover the power of writer and performer collaborations. Musical theater professionals take part in these classes (Broadway producers, directors, choreographers, designers, composers, actors, and musicians) in addition to field trips to see professional productions, concerts, and developmental workshops. Sharing of student works will take place in a variety of venues throughout the year, and culminate in a public performance at one of NYC's iconic cabaret venues, Joe's Pub.  Outside of NYYS, Anna has been recognized for her work as a composer/lyricist with the prestigious Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award. She’s a former Sundance Fellow and Dramatists Guild Fellow, and has been an Artist in Residence at Ars Nova, New Dramatists, Musical Theatre Factory, Goodspeed, and Barrington Stage Company. Anna holds an M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU-Tisch and is on faculty at The New School. Her musicals include: POP! (book & lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman) HARMONY, KANSAS (book & lyrics by Bill Nelson) ANYTOWN (book by Jim Jack) TEETH (co-book & lyrics by Michael R. Jackson) STELLA AND THE MOON MAN (written by Richard Tulloch & co-composed with Adrian Kelly) CAGE MATCH and MAGIC 8 BALL (Prospect Theatre Company; w/ Sam Salmond & Michael R. Jackson) KAYA: TASTE OF PARADISE, a soon-to-be-released movie musical commissioned by the New York Film Academy and featuring Okieriete Onaodowan (screenplay by Jerome Parker, directed by Paul Warner) Follow them on Instagram: NYYS / Sydney / Tate For more info on WINMI and the Spotlight podcast, go to ------------------------------- Intro music and interludes: "Reverie (small theme)" by _ghost 2010 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) --- Send in a voice message:
For the next few episodes will be talking to directors of the New York Youth Symphony. Founded in 1963 as an orchestra to showcase the metropolitan area’s most gifted musicians ages 12-22, its activities have since grown to encompass programs in chamber music, conducting, composition, and jazz, with performances at world class venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Michael Repper, who is in his second year as Music Director of the NYYS Orchestra, talks about his own path to conducting and the importance of music education. A graduate of Stanford University, he recently completed his doctoral residency at the Peabody Conservatory of Music as a student of Gustav Meier and his longtime mentor, Marin Alsop, a world-famous conductor and violinist who is also an alumna of the NY Youth Symphony. Michael is an emerging conductor of classical music, jazz, pops, and musical theater. Today he shares his passion for helping foster the next generation of artists. Learn more about: New York Youth Symphony and Michael Repper For more info on WINMI and the Spotlight podcast, go to ------------------------------- "Reverie (small theme)" by _ghost 2010 Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) --- Send in a voice message:
In Part Two of our look at Only Make Believe, Patrick talks to Jackie Miller, Artistic Director of the acting company, and two of the actors, Dan Domingues and Jeanette Bonner.  They share the process of bringing interactive theater to children in hospitals and care facilities. From choosing the right type of shows that best fits the kids and their medical conditions to rehearsing scripts and coordinating actor schedules, a lot of time and effort goes into these productions...and all at no cost to the hospitals or children. Each of them also discuss their lives before OMB and what they currently do in addition to their work with this organization. With over twelve years of experience as a director and curator of arts programming across New York City’s cultural sector, Jackie joined Only Make Believe in 2012. She holds a B.F.A. in Performance and M.A. in Arts-Politics, both from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Jeanette joined OMB in 2013. She received her BA in Theater from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and has performed with Magic Futurebox Productions, Ars Nova ANT Festival, Manhattan Theatre Source, as well as her solo show, "Love. Guts. High School." at the 2012 Midtown International Theatre Festival and won nominations for Best Actress and Best Solo Show. She performs weekly with the Improv troupe National Comedy Theater and is also a licensed NYC tour guide...welcome to New York! Dan has been with OMB since 2007. Off-Broadway credits include Atlantic Theater, Joe's Pub, LaMAMA, Baruch PAC, HERE and Soho Playhouse. He's worked regionally at Studio Theatre, Cape Playhouse, Long Wharf, Kansas City Rep, Florida Stage, Portland Stage, Pioneer Theatre, Rep of St. Louis, George Street Playhouse, ART. On TV his credits include Royal Pains, Law & Order, Hope and Faith, Third Watch, and As The World Turns. Dan has an MFA from ART/IATT at Harvard and is an associate artist with The Civilians. You too can make a difference in children's lives. Go to and see ways you can help and contribute. For more info on WINMI and the Spotlight podcast, go to ------------------------------- "Reverie (small theme)" by _ghost 2010 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) --- Send in a voice message:
This episode is Part One of a two-part look at a wonderful organization, Only Make Believe and is also the first installment of the Spotlight Series! Dena shares part of her life story in entertainment and what/who brought her to America. We also discuss the founding of Only Make Believe and how it has shaped her work and her life ever since. Geraldine Sherman was born in Middlesex, England and became a busy actress on BBC and in film (IMDB) when she met and later married James Hammerstein, son of legendary lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. She is now known as theater producer Dena Hammerstein, President/CEO of James Hammerstein Productions and Founder of the non-profit organization Only Make Believe. OMB brings interactive theater to children in hospitals and care facilities, those with illnesses and disabilities and special needs. They entertain the kids with specially created plays designed for their needs and to encourage their participation. Starting in one hospital in 1999, OMB has now grown (thanks to private and corporate support and donations) to more than 50 hospitals in New York City and Washington D.C. Find out more about OMB and how you can help them make a difference in children's lives. --------------------- "Reverie (small theme)" by _ghost 2010 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) --- Send in a voice message:
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