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Beyond the Spotlight

Author: Jon Diener

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The point of this podcast is simple. We want to pull back the curtain and bring you backstage, beyond the spotlight, to give you a glimpse into the world of folks like you and me who are working in the trenches of the music, theater, and entertainment industries. They may not be household names, but they are key players in bringing to life the shows we all enjoy. Over the last 41 years, your host Jon Diener has worked as a musician, producer, recording engineer, videographer, editor, motion graphics artist, and photographer. He's spent most of his life around people working hard behind the scenes and wants to learn more about their journeys and share their stories with you.
24 Episodes
With over fifteen years of experience as a Tour Manager, Operations Manager, Event Manager, Producer, Consultant, and founder and principal of Accessible, LLC, Aaron Adams has excellently served personal and professional brands spanning various industries.Having a particular passion for the many facets of entertainment, his work threads across a number of well-known brands including but not limited to R&B soul icon, Anita Baker, award-winning rapper and speaker, Lecrae, music industry author and executive, Cappriccieo Scates, budding stand-up and social media comedians KevOnStage and Tony Baker, Broadway superstar Chester Gregory, television networks including BET and MTV and more. Aaron finds relentless joy and fulfillment in serving those who share their art with the world.Links and social media handles mentioned in this episode: the show (
For the past 30 years, Jere Righter has been involved in almost every aspect of the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Michigan. A native of Adrian, Jere graduated from Siena Heights University with a degree in theater and speech communications. She subsequently served as Siena’s Vice President for Advancement and later was hired to raise funds for medical research at the University of Michigan. In 2009, Jere joined the Croswell staff as Artistic Director.With her vision, people skills, and endless hours of hard work, Jere has boosted the Croswell’s profile as an educational and entertainment destination. In 2016, under Jere’s guidance, the 150 year old theater underwent a $6.3 million renovation and expansion. Jere is continually grateful for all the generous gifts of support, membership, sponsorship, and volunteerism that work in concert with a staff of talented professionals dedicated to continuing the Croswell’s legacy as a downtown Adrian anchor and regional jewel. the show (
With over 35 years of global touring experience, David has worked on a multitude of tours throughout the world, with artists like Earth, Wind & Fire, Chase Rice, Toni Braxton, John Fogerty, Prince, John Legend, and Toto. His roles have included Tour Director, Tour Manager and Production Manager, with specific skills in areas of tour accounting, budgets, show settlements, staffing, vendor allocation, routing assistance, travel coordination, charter jet bookings and work visas. David has worked as a promoter rep and has the ability to see touring from both sides of the table – as a touring artist as well as from the promoter side which lends a unique slant to understanding all aspects of touring. He has spoken on panels for several years at the Tour Link Conference, Leadership Music in Nashville, University of Georgia Music Business Program, IMFCON Conference, and the 2019 The Hubb Conference in Nashville for CAA to promote diversity in the music industry. He’s also written many professional articles about his time in the industry. David is involved in numerous organizations as a mentor, volunteer, panelist and ambassador of diversity in the world of touring.David was born in the UK, but has lived in the United States for most of his life. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA. Business BasicsWasted PotentialSupport the show (
THANKS FOR LISTENING!Finally got a chance to record a quick update on recent happenings with the podcast! In this episode: a major milestone, a roundup of global listeners, and I ask for a couple favors from YOU, the listeners.  Beyond the Spotlight on FacebookBeyond the Spotlight on InstagramSupport the show (
As a singer, Bob Potsic has performed numerous operas, oratorios, and has sung on Grammy Award nominated albums. He is best known for his engaging performances, enhanced by his massive onstage persona. Specializing in musical theatre pit orchestras, Bob has performed with many theatre companies throughout the United States. He is sought after for his sensitivity to the score, and ability to play multiple styles. Bob regularly holds a studio of nearly 50 students. Feeling at home teaching voice, guitar, piano, and bass, he has had many of his students successfully continue into the arts as a profession.Bob was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago and began his studies on trombone in 5th grade and continued until freshman year of high school when he stopped music to pursue sports. Alongside his music making, Bob had also played sports his entire life. But a minor heart surgery sidelined him forever from organized sport. So he joined choir.But Bob’s high school music endeavors didn’t end at choir. He was also involved in musicals, and show choir for four years. He played electric bass for the jazz band and re-joined band his junior year, only this time playing euphonium. There, he learned what dedication and hard work were through marching, concert, and jazz band seasons. Bob went on to attend Western Michigan University where he majored in voice, and got to travel the world while singing in choirs there. His professional career began at 17 years old when he was hired by White Horse Theatre Company to play bass for a production of Songs for a New World. He continued playing at least one show a year from then on. In 2005, Bob began teaching private voice, moved back to Chicago in 2008 and continues his singing and teaching careers there. When not immersed in music, Bob enjoys spending time with his family, lifting weights, and playing hockey.http://www.bobmakesmusic.co the show (
Originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada, keyboardist Dave Cohen has spent the past 13 years in Nashville, garnering accolades that most musicians could only hope to achieve. Cohen first got his start touring with stand-out Canadian acts such as Johnny Reid and Amanda Marshall. After moving to the states and hitting the road to play for country icon Joe Nichols and hit-makers like Big & Rich and Wynonna, Cohen stepped away from touring in 2013 to focus on fine-tuning his talent strictly as a studio musician.Cohen has since played on countless No. 1 hits by country music’s biggest stars including Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Brett Eldredge, Keith Urban, Chris Young, Cole Swindell, Jon Pardi, Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell, Kip Moore, Old Dominion, Josh Turner, Randy Houser, Chris Lane and more. A culmination of his hard work throughout the last decade, Cohen was named the Academy of Country Music’s 2017 Keyboard Player of the Year. Most recently he won the 2018 Music Row All Star Musician Award.http://www.davecohenlive.com the show (
After growing up in Northwest Ohio, Josh Keller studied Church Music at the University of Valley Forge, outside Philadelphia. As a student there, he also tutored other students in music theory. Since then, he’s been Music Assistant at Grand Rapids First, and is currently teaching voice and piano at The Piano Cottage Studios in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he lives.After getting involved in the community theater scene there, Josh has been working steadily as a pit musician or music director for numerous theatrical productions.Josh on InstagramJosh on TwitterThe Piano Cottage StudiosSupport the show (
Paul Klimson brings twenty highly-credited years of technical experience to the details of audio, staging, video, and lighting arrangement in the areas of television broadcasts, arena performances, international music festivals, and top-tier special events production. He designs, creates, and implements the technical foundation upon which the most resonating musical performances of the day exist.What musicians - like Justin Timberlake, John Legend, and The Roots – understand is that Paul’s technical contributions help drive undeniable impact to their talented performances and serve in collaborative partnership to the extraordinary moments in their audience experience. They trust him. They depend on him. And, most importantly, each take the stage with an artistic confidence enhanced by a sincere reliability in the comprehensive backstage capabilities of Paul’s technical command and teamwork.Paul’s behind-the-scenes work has been felt in the uniquely beautiful Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake acoustic duet performance (of the Cyndi Lauper cover ‘True Colors’) at the Cannes Film Festival (in May 2016) in support of the ‘Trolls’ DreamWorks Animation film. And, soon followed up by the highly-noted Timberlake debut of ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ performance at the annual Eurovision Song Contest finals in Stockholm, Sweden.Paul was plucked out John Legend’s ‘Evolver Tour’ in 2008 to audition (at SNL) for what was to become the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon television show. Over the course of 6 years (and 965+ episodes), he worked in every music production element of the NBC nightly broadcast, in direct support of The Roots, and in full collaboration with an enviable guest list of top acts which include Kanye West, Radiohead, Drake, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Lauryn Hill, and The XX among many others.In 2013, Paul designed and built the monitor package for the famous Studio 6B set at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and saw the show through its memorable transition into The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He took the new nightly broadcast – managing audio and monitor mixer responsibilities - through another 120 episodes featuring a revolving roster of musical guests that include U2, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, David Byrne, Tim McGraw, Arcade Fire, The Avett Brothers, and numerous other acts. Paul helped solidify the show’s audio team before his departure from television to join Justin Timberlake in the massive ’The 20/20 Experience World Tour’ later that year – Timberlake’s most successful solo tour to date with a total box office gross of $231.6 million.  He most recently finished on Timberlake’s Man of the Woods Tour, which took off on the heels of his epic 2018 SuperBowl performance.Paul’s prior audio experience (from 2006 to 2008) contains a multitude of high-profile sound media projects (on behalf of Masque Sound & Recording Corp.) which include Vdosc System Tech work (for VH-1 Classics, Microsoft MPX 2006, and the Hillary Duff 2006 Tour); Industrials (for Disney Mountain in the City – Avalanche Mountain, Project Runway, New York Marriott Marquis, KLP/Hennessey, The Strokes, Goldfrapp, and Tony Bennett); and Broadway Sound Production (for the Hairspray Vegas installation, Blue Man Group Boston - Charles Playhouse audio reinstall, and the annual Manhattan Theater Club Spring Gala.)Theory One ProductionsThe Roadie Clinic | An Advocacy GroupPaul on InstagramSupport the show (
Tobin Ost is an award winning, TONY nominated scenic and costume designer who has been has been working professionally in New York for close to 20 years.His work on Broadway includes Disney's NEWSIES, BONNIE & CLYDE, JEKYLL AND HYDE, DISASTER! - ON BROADWAY, THE PHILANTHROPIST, and BROOKLYN - THE MUSICAL, several which generated multiple national tours as well as subsequent productions internationally.Select Off-Broadway work includes NIGHTINGALE, both written and performed by Lynn Redgrave at Manhattan Theatre Club; Maurice Hines' TAPPIN' THRU LIFE at New World Stages; ZANNA - DONT! starring Jai Rodriguez at the John Houseman Theater (GLAAD Media Award); and THE OVERWHELMING, directed by Max Stafford-Clark for Roundabout Theatre Company's Laura Pels Theatre.Tobin has also worked extensively for major regional theater companies across the nation, including Center Theatre Group, Arena Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, Ford's Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Alliance Theatre, and many others.Additionally, his work can be seen in film and television, restaurant and event design, and he is frequently called on as a theatre design educator in University and Workshop settings, including Broadway Teaching Group's "Broadway Teacher's Workshop", iTheatrics' Junior Theatre Festival Atlanta, and's "Broadway Classroom."Tobin originally hails from Adrian, Michigan. He received his BFA degree in Art History and Theatre from the University of Michigan, with additional studies in traditional Japanese Theatre at Kyuushu University, Japan, where he completed a dissertation on bunraku puppetry.He received his MFA degree in Set and Costume Design from the Yale School of Drama.For more info on Tobin: Tobin Ost DesignSupport the show (
Chris Shrom is a Nashville-based lighting designer and technician for live tours and corporate events. He grew up in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania where he got his start in production when his church connected him with Susquehanna Sound. In middle school and high school, he traveled with a band called Saline, and another, Heartbeat Productions. His family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio after his freshmen year, where he toured with a drama group called Mishpachah, Inc., still doing audio. He also volunteered at church as the monitor engineer on Sundays.After a year of studying mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, Chris was strongly encouraged to pursue his passion for audio at Belmont University where he studied music business and production. His early college years were spent behind an audio console, but soon Chris became known for his abilities in lighting. It was then that the hobby and the fascination with light became a career.Some of the artists he’s worked with as a Lighting designer or technician:Little Big TownBilly CurringtonJeremy CampNatalie GrantBebo NormanSanctus RealRascal FlattsSara EvansKeith UrbanBrothers OsbornChris StapletonKacey MusgravesChris on Twitter & Instagram: @ChrisShromChris' webpage: http://www.ChrisShrom.com4 Wall Entertainment, Inc.: the show (
Emily and Cathy Stein have spent a decade working as dressers and wardrobe specialists in community theater and on national tours. Emily Stein began doing theater in high school and hasn’t stopped since! She's done everything from running a light board to costume designing. Emily has not only been active in the West Michigan theater scene, but has also been on 3 national tours as the head of wardrobe and assistant wardrobe/head of wigs. Cathy Stein did a little theater in high school and then got involved again later, when her daughter Emily started. She's done numerous shows throughout Grand Rapids, MI for almost 10 years and has done everything from running a spot light, to deck crew, to dressing. Emily on InstagramSupport the show (
Cherie B. Tay is a New York City based stage manager by way of Texas, Connecticut, Singapore, Pennsylvania, and San Diego. She’s built an impressive resume of shows - on and off-Broadway productions, national tours, as well as international productions. Currently, Cherie is the Assistant Stage Manager at the Tony Award® winning show HADESTOWN on Broadway.Outside of the theater, Cherie has many other talents including photography, music / ukulele, podcasting (UNSAD Podcast), voice overs, good food, website building, and puzzle cubes. Cherie’s websiteCherie on InstagramUplifting News Sleep Aid Daily [UNSAD] PodcastSupport the show (
We chat with Dave Horowitz, A1 at Beetlejuice The Musical on Broadway, about the challenges of mixing sound for such a frenetic production, as well as the journey that brought him to this point in his career.Originally from White Plains, NY, Dave studied Music/Sound at Penn State University, and has worked in various audio-related positions at The Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, A Bronx Tale The Musical, and Head Sound at Spring Awakening Broadway. He's also an accomplished musician with deep family roots in music and Broadway.He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and child.Dave Horowitz on InstagramDave Horowitz on FacebookBeetlejuice The Musical websiteSupport the show (
Electric and double bass man, George Farmer, is a player with an all new blend. He began his musical training at a young age, receiving his earliest musical lessons from his father, legendary jazz trumpeter Art Farmer. In a house filled with American Soul as well as classical music, Farmer benefited from a unique blend of musical influences and began playing the electric and upright basses at the same time. With a curriculum that included conservatory training at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, private study, and a demanding live performance schedule, Farmer absorbed everything from Schubert's Serenades to Bootsy's Rubberband bass grooves.Farmer moved permanently to the United States in 1997 and soon began getting calls for high profile dates. His first gigs in New York City included the "Young Lions of Jazz" ensemble with Delfeayo Marsalis and Mark Whitfield, as well as serving as the musical director for California based producer, Don Freeman (The Pointer Sisters, Bill Withers). In the year 2000, Farmer became the bass player for the legendary, Benny Golson. Farmer toured in Europe and the U.S. with Golson, and recorded on the 2000 Legend Recordings release, "The Athens Sessions".Meanwhile, Farmer has become a sought after sideman and studio musician stateside as well as in Europe. In the year 2001, Farmer spent 3 months touring with Wolfgang Ambros, one of Europe's most beloved rock stars, and Farmer also recorded on Ambros' certified-gold album, "Hopelessly Self-conscious," that same year. He returned to Europe the following summer, where he played with world renowned vocalist, Natalie Cole. In 2003 Farmer signed on as the bass player for 2004 Grammy-nominated Artist, Amel Larrieux. Featured on both electric and upright basses, Farmer's playing on Larrieux's sophomore album "Bravebird" (Warner Brothers) is a focal point. Since the album's release in 2003, he has toured Japan and the United States with Larrieux, while still maintaining a busy performance and recording schedule that includes performances with emerging artist, Darius DeHaas, as a part of the "American Songbook: Stevie Wonder" Series at Lincoln Center.George's love for accompanying singers led him to him to become a first-call player for numerous Broadway shows (Spring Awakening, Memphis, Fun Home, to name just a few), and he currently holds the bass chair for the Broadway smash Ain’t Too Proud.George’s websiteGeorge Farmer on InstagramGeorge Farmer on Facebook"Ain't Too Proud" websiteSupport the show (
Noddea Skidmore has worked as the Director of Creative and Audience Development at Circle Theatre since 2015. This summer she’ll play Patsy Cline in the musical Always… Patsy Cline. Past Circle Theatre main stage credits include Regina in Rock of Ages (Grand Award Nomination), Joanne in Company, Lady of the Lake in Monty Python’s Spamalot (Grand Award Nomination), Miss Hannigan in Annie (2010), Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Patsy in Bingo!, Marlene in Daddy’s Dyin’…, Vicki in The Full Monty, and the ensemble of Nine.At Circle she’s had the opportunity to be a part of several Summer Concert Series shows like Edge of the Millennium: Top Hits of 1999, Broadway Babes: Dames of the Stage, Silver Screen: Academy Award-Winning Songs, California Dreamin’: Cool Cali Sounds Past and Present, Leather and Lace: The Women of Rock, and Hits of the ‘80s. Other community credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Wild Party, and Urinetown at Actors’ Theatre and Elf, Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical, The Wizard of Oz at Civic Theatre.A popcorn-lover, cinephile, and dreamer/planner of visits to Manhattan and Broadway shows, Noddea lives at home (especially a lot these days!) with her little family - her husband Calin, and two dogs Big and Beatle.Circle Theatre websiteCircle Theatre on InstagramCircle Theatre on FacebookNoddea on InstagramSupport the show (
Lindsay Schmidt has vocal directed high school musicals (Annie, Footloose, Willy Wonka, and Tarzan), worked with the some youth classes at a local community center, and has been performing in community productions around West Michigan since 2001. Lindsay also traveled with first national tour of “The King & I” as a guardian/child wrangler from 2016-2018. Her husband is a traveling audio engineer for musicals/plays and has been touring for about 15 years.Lindsay on Instagram: the show (
Growing up in Dallas, John Thomasson found the bass guitar the same way many did - a friend started a band and no one else played bass. He attended the Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and then the University of North Texas, where he studied music. After that, he was part of a band called Little Sister (later changed to Sister 7) and had some minor radio hits in the 90s. After moving to Austin, John started playing with one of his heroes - Davíd Garza, playing on his first major label record called This Euphoria. In 2000, John got married, quit playing music for the most part and went back to school to get a degree in Psychology and focused on musical cognition. After working some tech jobs at Apple and Hewlett Packard, he wanted to play a little bit more while preparing for grad school. He started recording and touring with Matt Nathanson in 2004, and one of Matt's songs that John played on was "Come on Get Higher", a double-platinum single. Working with Matt also gave him the chance to play on the original Conan O’Brien show and Late Night With David Letterman.After the birth of his first son, John and his growing family moved to Nashville in the fall of 2009. There, he learned about the family-friendly way that Nashville acts toured and that sealed the deal for him. He landed the gig with Little Big Town in April of 2010 and has toured with them ever since. During that time, he also recorded with LBT on numerous successful records, including: Tornado (platinum album) which featured hit singles "Pontoon" and "Tornado", Pain Killer (Platinum album) which including the triple-platinum single "Girl Crush" and gold single "Day Drinking", The Breaker, Wanderlust (produced by Pharrell Williams), and most recently, Nightfall (Self Produced).Spotify playlist of some of John's work: Thomasson on Instagram: Big Town website: the show (
This time, we step into the world of broadcast TV sports - specifically, the sound. From stringing miles of audio cables to placing dozens of microphones, find out what it takes to bring the sound from the playing field right into your living room!After spending decades in video production as an editor and videographer, Scott Sandstrom is now a freelance sound engineer for live broadcast sporting events of all sorts. He spends long days in college and professional sports venues around the midwest, working in various audio support roles, to help bring the exciting sounds of live televised sports into your home.Support the show (
Since earning her degree in Theater from Calvin College, Emily Diener has been working onstage and off, in numerous community theater productions over the last ten years. Some of her favorite roles include Ursula in The Little Mermaid (Grand Rapids Civic Theatre), Katherine in Freaky Friday (Circle Theatre), Cathy in The Last Five Years (University Wits) and Mother in Ragtime (Grand Rapids Civic Theatre) for which she earned a Grand Award (the Tony Award of the Grand Rapids theater scene). Emily also performs in numerous cabaret shows each year in West Michigan. Follow Emily on Instagram: the show (
Ross Kratter is a bass player, tuba player, and composer based in New York. He is equally at home on string bass and electric bass, both fretted and fretless, 4, 5, and 6 string, as well as on tuba. While primarily known as a jazz musician, he is equally comfortable in any and all styles of music. Ross has performed with such notable and varied artists as Joshua Redman, the Drifters, Bob Franceschini, Victor Wooten, Bob Reynolds, Alex Sipiagin, and many more. He was the bass player on the 2019-2020 First National Tour of Bandstand the Musical, the 2018 national tour of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live, and the 2016-2017 national tour of FAME the Musical. He has also served as a Musical Director for P&O Cruises and Queen’s Room Orchestra Leader for Cunard Line. Kratter released his debut album "It’s Time" with his working quartet in October 2018.For more on Ross:https://www.rosskratter.com the show (
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