Podcast Episode 198: The Creator of Freestyle Love Supreme, Anthony Veneziale

Usually, these intros are all about giving you a tease of information to get you to listen to the podcast:

  • Somewhere in this episode, I beatbox.

For reals.

Yep, this son-of-an-Indian immigrant who grew up in preppy New England blue blazer, threw down some beats.

And thanks to Anthony Veneziale, one of the men who helped paved the Great White Way for hip hop and the creator of Freestyle Love Supreme, I did alright.

Listen in to this podcast, and you’ll hear about the origins of this new form on Broadway, and how he helped Lin Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail with In The Heights, and a ton more, including (yes, I’m giving you the full bullet points, because this podcast is that good):

  • Why Hip-Hop/Rap is so effective in the theater and why this is just the beginning.  
  • How his success happened overnight . . . NO IT DIDN’T!  It took a long time, and why and how he had the courage to keep at it.  
  • The most commonly uttered words on my podcast from all my guests, and why those words helped Anthony crush his goals.  
  • How he teaches freestyle at the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy (if I can do it – anyone can).
  • And in addition to me beatboxing, you can bet he shows a little of his freestylin’ skills as well.

So listen in, and after you do, check out Freestyle Love Supreme.  

Anthony is one of the few guests that forced me to see his show before he appeared as a guest, and I was so thankful I did.  While I have seen them perform before, the show is more than just a 3-minute sketch of freestyle.  But you got to go to check it out.  You’ll hear why when I talk about it in the podcast, so . . .

Listen in!
And you will win!
Because Anthony is the real deal!
And after you hear what he has . . .

Oh crap, I give up.  I’m bad at this. Just listen.

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar!  Check out “Runnin’” from their musical BEAU at the end of this episode. If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to http://lyonsandpakchar.com/ for more tunes.

This week’s episode is brought to you by AJV MEDIA. For more information, please visit http://www.ajvmedia.com.

They locked my phone up. Twice! And I loved it.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know last week I was a lucky attendee at the musical improv Freestyle Love Supremethe brainchild of upcoming Podcast guest, Anthony “Two-Touch” Veneziale, and his cohorts, including a real underachiever named Lin-Manuel Miranda.

As I posted, the show is one of the most uniquely authentic and exciting evenings I’ve had in a Broadway house in a long while.  Sure, it was like watching the Olympics of rap.  And sure it was funny because good improv always is.  But I never expected it to be so moving.

But this ain’t about the show.

This is about what the show forced me and the 900 other people that night to do before the show.

They made us shut off our phones and drop it in a little yellow pouch, provided by a company called Yondr, which was then locked down better than the cell phone transcripts between the US and Ukraine (heyo!).

So for the next 90 minutes.  I was phoneless.

Now, I’m not a during-a-show texter-or-checker anyway, but boy oh boy was this an odd feeling.

And once I got over the anxiety and uncomfortable feeling (partly because of the size of that pouch sticking out of my pocket) . . . I loved it.  Just loved it.

I was able to be more present than I have been at a show in a long time.  And you know what?  That made me enjoy it more.

So maybe this Yondr thing is a . . . thing.

I know, heresy coming from me . . . the guy who created “Tweet Seats” for my production of Godspell (and got some great press about it, including Rock Center).

But screens are even more abundant now than they ever were before.  And we’re addicted to them more.  And they distract us more, never mind the artists who are busting their brains and bodies to entertain us.

So maybe it is time for us to be forced to lock up our devices and free up our minds?

But what about the marketing opportunities?  What about the kids who have never known life without a cell phone?

These issues must be addressed because most shows need the marketing engines that are those things in our pockets sans pouches.  And the theater itself needs kids coming now so that we’ll have adults coming in the future.

That’s why I’ve always suggested allowing phones for specific moments . . . pre-show, curtain call (!) or special shareable moments before or after the experience.

But surely there’s a way to do both.

Locking our devices up won’t work for every show, because anything we force our customers to do adds to the friction of them making a purchase.  And most shows want to reduce that friction, not create more.

But it’s an option . . . and an option that I look forward to seeing spread throughout our community, because yeah.  I loved FSL, but I loved it more because I knew for 90 minutes, it was just me and those artists and my friends in the audience . . . and not my friends on Facebook.

UPDATE:  And then my phone was locked up a 2nd time!  Because guess who was on Jury Duty this week in Federal Court?  This guy.  And guess what they also did?  Locked up our phones!  And guess who had several hours of focus time . . . and reading time . . . and brainstorming time.  And guess who wrote on an actual pad of paper with a pen instead of on a screen?

And guess who had the most productive 3 hours he has had in a long time (before he was called for a voir dire)?

This guy.

So maybe we should have Yondr for artrepreneurs too.  Or maybe we should learn how to police ourselves to shove our phones in a drawer and turn off our email notifications on our computers and get to effin’ work.

Maybe. 🙂

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Our conference is in just five weeks.  If you miss out . . . well, you’ll never know what could have happened with that idea, with that show, or with your passion . . . but I tell you this . . . come, and you’ll get education and motivation to go after it and now.  Click here.

 

Podcast Episode 197: No “Ordinary” Composer/Lyricist, Mr. Adam Gwon

One of the super fun parts about being in this biz for a bit is that you get to watch the careers of folks you admire go from someone that no one is talking about to someone that everyone is talking about.

And that someone is today’s guest, Mr. Adam Gwon, who broke through with his musical, Ordinary Days and is about to open Scotland, PA at the Roundabout Theater (which I’m proud to be helping along the way).

Adam is on everyone’s “watch list,” like a financial advisor might be watching a stock, just waiting for it to turn into the next Apple.

We sat down with only a microphone between us to talk about his status as a writer-to-watch, as well as . . .

  • How he transitioned from writing 3-minute songs to 3-hour musicals.
  • Choosing a collaborator:  The true story of the “3 blind dates” he went on before he made the choice to write Scotland, PA with Michael Mitnick.
  • How not having an answer to a question led him to create Ordinary Days.
  • Does Broadway mean you’re a success AKA what it’s like to still be “emerging” despite being produced all over the world?
  • What it’s like being a Tony Award Nominator

Enjoy the podcast, and then, go enjoy Scotland, PA, currently in previews NOW!

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Anna Jacobs and Michael R. Jackson!  Check out “I Want To Choose” from their musical TEETH at the end of this episode. If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to www.annakjacobs.com/ & www.thelivingmichaeljackson.com for more tunes.

This week’s episode is brought to you by TERRY KNICKERBOCKER STUDIO. Terry Knickerbocker Studio offers a two-year acting conservatory, workshops, studio rentals, one-on-one coaching, beginner acting classes, and the best actor training in New York, period. While the conservatory training is based on the Meisner Technique, Terry Knickerbocker Studio offers a holistic approach to actor training with a commitment to nurturing the total actor: Mind, Body, and Soul. For more information, please visit www.TerryKnickerbockerStudio.com.

Podcast Episode 196: Actor, Writer, and all around Awesome Inspiration, Susan Blackwell

 

Seeing [Title of Show] in its early days is one of the top 10 theater-going experiences of my life.  It was so obvious that those four funny folks were living their best lives on that stage, as they played themselves trying to make a musical.

I knew all of the performers . . . except one.  Susan Blackwell.  She didn’t have a ton of musical credits.  And her take on life, love and the pursuit of musical theater was a little different than the others.

But by the end of her signature number, “Die Vampire Die,” I just wanted to hang out with her . . . all the time.

Took me a little bit until our paths crossed, but cross they did . . . and with a microphone in front of us!

And lucky you, you now get to e-hang out with her by listening to this podcast, where we talk about:

  • Finding the time to pursue your dream, while working your day job . . . like literally while your boss is standing over your desk as you work on lyrics!
  • What “dollar-cost-averaging” has to do with a career in the theater.
  • Life of a freelance artist and how she structures her day for success.
  • Why being a multi-hyphenate and focusing on many things is important to her, and should be to you too.
  • How did [Title of Show] happen – and what’s it like now watching people play her!

Tune in and enjoy this inspiring artrepreneurial episode and when you’re done, turn that dial over to Susan’s new podcast (created with her wonder twin, Laura Camien), The Spark File, which is now live!

Enjoy!

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Jacinth Greywoode (@j.greywoode on soundcloud)! Check out “Myrtle’s Lament” at the end of this episode (music by Jacinth and lyrics by Rebecca Hart). If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to www.jacinthgreywoode.com/ for more tunes.

No matter where you are in life . . . whether you are just starting out and need a kick start, or you have already achieved a certain level of success and want more, or you’ve been slacking lately (we’ve all been there) and need to get back on track . . . you’ve decided to take your life, your dreams, and your destiny into your own hands . . . literally . . . with this journal. Start your 90-day journey today, visit: http://www.actionjournalforartists.com/

Three reasons why NOT to start that show, project, or business.

I’m either the best person to write this blog . . . or the worst.

Because, look, I have a lot of ideas . . . and I like to launch. 🙂

And while that has paid off for me more often than not, it also got me in trouble earlier in my career, stretching me too thin and not giving me enough time to focus on the more important projects.  You know, the ones that could have the biggest impact on my professional and personal life.

See, time is the most valuable of all commodities (not money!), so I have to constantly remind myself that no matter how cool I think an idea is, sometimes it is best to NOT pursue it, regardless of whatever exists in your damn DNA that makes you want to get every single ideal out there in the world.

I have been working on this a bunch, especially since I’ve bumped into quotes like these while looking for content for my  #mymorningwhiteboardquote series for my insta:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.” – Tony Blair

“Focusing is about saying no.” – Steve Jobs

Ooohhh, but it’s so hard, isn’t it?

That’s why I’ve come up with this list of 3 reasons why you should NOT start a new show , script, or any kind of business, even if the idea may be a good one! (I’d suggest you keep this one by your desk.)

1. It’s going to take up more of your time than you think.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up to produce a show or write a script and thought, “I’ve done this before. How hard can it be?.”  Once I even opened two shows a night apart from one another, thinking, “It’s just producing a show.”  Ha!  What an idiotic statement that was.Every project is different.  And every single one has its own unique challenges that require you to exercise some muscle you probably didn’t even know you had!  So be ready to work just as hard on your 100th show as you did on your first, and for it to take a lot more time than you think.  (Oh, and don’t be seduced into thinking a smaller show or project is easier to create – I find the smaller ones take even more time – but often can’t produce the same rewards as a bigger one.)

2. It’s going to need you to pay a LOT of attention to it after it gets on its feet.

A project’s launch is just the beginning.  In fact, let’s compare it to an actual launch . . . of a rocket!

For months or years before a rocket’s launch, a tremendous amount of time and effort is spent designing that rocket.  But right after the NASA folks hit that launch button, the real energy is spent getting that rocket in the air.  Those engines have to roooooooar!

Getting to opening night is not where the bulk of the work is done for a show or any business, even though it may seem that way.  The real work is done after the doors open for consumers.  That’s when you have to make sure your audience is satisfied, both creatively and from a customer service perspective.  And of course, it’s where you have to market your butt off.

I don’t care HOW big your brand is.  Nothing is going to sell itself.  Expect to have to put on your salesman hat and bark like you work at a carnival game if you want your show to be a success.  And that’s gonna take time.

3. You think it’s going to make a bazillion dollars.

This is the easiest reason of all to NOT start a new idea.

If your #1 motivation is making money, do us all a favor, but especially yourself, and stop.  Because it’s just not going to work.  Shows are about audiences.  Businesses are about customers.  Making money is about you.  And that is inherently the opposite approach to how to build a successful business.  It’s too selfish.  And it won’t work.

Every time I’ve pursued an idea solely because I thought it was a moneymaker, it has not made money.  You shouldn’t build a thing unless you believe that thing will make someone else’s life better somehow.  Now, that does not mean you should avoid thinking about your potential customer base, or the commercial viability of what you are putting out into the world . . . it just can’t be the only reason you’re doing something.  Because it’ll fail.  So put it down and focus on something you love and you know other people will love instead.  The irony is, that’s when the money will pour in . . . when you’re not thinking about it.

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably have ideas . . . ideas for shows, screenplays, or even restaurants, apps or how to fix healthcare.  Some of them you should buckle down and do . . . now.  Many even many.  But others, you should kill.  If only just so you can focus on the other ideas and make them even better.

Life is short.  You do NOT have to time to do everything.  And if you want the type of success I know you do, you’re going to have to say no . . . not only to other people . . . but more importantly to yourself, and that great big idea-generating brain of yours.

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If you like the quotes above, do follow me on Instagram.  I put a quote on my whiteboard every day, which is right in front of my desk, so I stare at it all day long.   I do it to keep me on track.  And I post it on Instagram to help keep you on yours as well.  Follow me here.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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