Podcast Episode 199: Tony Award-Winner And All Around Inspiration Ali Stroker

There have been just a few times during the 199 episodes of my podcast that I’ve wished it was video, so you could see what I see.

Watching Ali Stroker’s joy-filled smile as she talks about living out her dreams is at the top of that list.

But many of you saw that smile already when you watched her hold her Tony Award up high this past June, when she won for her turn as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!.

What’s truly amazing about Ali, is that her smile seemingly never leaves her face, even when she talks about her struggles after the accident that confined her to a wheelchair since the age of two.  That’s right, when most kids are just learning how to walk, she was told she wasn’t going to anymore.

But as you’ll hear in this incredible episode, thanks to a pair of parents cut right out of the “perfect parenting handbook”, she turned that trauma around, and turned it into a ferocious energy, drive and will to succeed, no matter effin’ what.

And guess, what . . . despite having to work harder than most of us . . . it worked.

This is where I’d usually put some bullet points of key points Ali makes during our discussion.

I’m skipping that this week, because everything she says is so inspirational and so important.


And advocate for access for all!

  • Click above to listen to this episode.
  • 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 Carmel Dean. Featuring the song “The BeanStalk” from the musical Renascence and written by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dick Scanlan. The full album is available on iTunes and Spotify.

This episode is sponsored by Curtain Call! Curtain Call is the platform for all theatre professionals; onstage or backstage, creative or cast, producer or theatre. You can network easily AND look for work. You can view and apply for jobs directly through the platform. Just go to curtaincallonline.com to sign up. They also have an awesome Instagram page – with incredible photography @curtaincall.

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 Heightsand 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 above to listen to this episode.
  • 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.

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 above to listen to this episode.
  • 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!


  • Click above 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/

Podcast Episode 195 – Broadway Group Sales Agent Stephanie Lee

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to Pulitzer Prize Winners, Tony Award Winners and all of the marquis names we’ve had on the almost 200 (!) episodes of this podcast.

But some of the most enlightening guests I’ve had over the past few years have been the folks that you may not even know exist, but are single-handedly responsible for pulling some major strings in the Broadway biz.

And of those peeps is today’s guest, Ms. Stephanie Lee.

Stephanie runs Group Sales Box Office, now a subsidiary of Broadway.com, the largest seller of Broadway tickets to groups.

Ever see all those buses lined up on the streets before the Wednesday matinees?  Yeah, the majority of those are all because of the great work Steph does.

What’s just as interesting to me as the sheer volume of dollars and bodies that Stephanie deals with daily, is the fact that she does what Producers can’t do . . . she talks directly to the ticket buyers.

So she often has more insight into what our audiences want than we do!

That’s why I wanted to talk to her, and why I wanted you to listen to her.  So we popped in front of my microphone and chatted about:

  • The most common mistake Producers make when trying to sell tickets to Groups.
  • How you can turn a show around with the right group sales strategy (and a specific example of show that did just that!)
  • How she balances her own enthusiasm for shows with what the clients want.
  • The group sales buyer versus the single ticket buyer – what’s the difference in what they are looking for
  • Where the group business is headed in the next twenty years.

We are not in the business of just making art.  We’re in the business of making and selling art.

And not many people know how to sell as well as Steph.


  • Click above 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 Ryan Scott Oliver! If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to https://ryanscottoliver.com for more tunes.

This episode is sponsored by The Producer’s Perspective PRO. For more information, visit their website.”

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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