Merry Christmas folks, here's my gift to you: I've done the tough work on your behalf, and found the best podcasts out there for musical theatre professionals, students and enthusiasts. After listening to more than 20 different shows, I regularly tune into these six because of the quality of topics, the excellent formatting, and the actionable information I walk away with. Pick the ones most relevant to you, or listen to them all to get a well rounded musical theatre education:
The Ensemblist: a podcast dedicated entirely to sharing the interesting career secrets of those who are cast in the chorus or ensemble of a musical theatre production, this show is a fascinating look into the lesser known facts of what your career will actually be like when you're starting out in ensemble roles, including lifestyle information, audition tips, the grind of 8-show-weeks, and more. The hosts are well organized and scripted, and refrain from idle chatting or long interviews - they keep it to the facts, while remaining engaging. Their guests are all experienced professionals with long lists of impressive credits, and I like how the hosts take clips of 3-4 guests and compare them rather than interviewing one person at a time. Let's face it, ensemble roles are easier to get and there's more of them available, so the likelihood of starting out as an ensemble member is high - which is why this podcast is so valuable.
Something New: your host, Joel B. New, is a composer and lyricist who has put together a great resource in his podcast, which is structured as a talk show model. Joel chooses one musical theatre professional to interview in each episode, and rotates showcasing writers, actors, musicians and dancers which makes a fabulous variety of discussion around Broadway from all different sides. As for topics, Joel lets the chatting flow in whatever direction it takes, so you might hear about current Broadway shows, older past shows, someone's crazy story of how they landed a role, or just an actor's daily routine. I love that Joel keeps it light and creative by including a ridiculous quiz after interviewing his guest, and follows it by premiering one of his newest pieces at the end of each episode.
Theatre Geeks: this podcast focuses on community theatre, which is great because most others are strictly at the professional level, and it's important to be knowledgeable as to what's happening at different ends of the industry. Episodes feature acting, directing, technical and business issues at the community level. While not scripted, your three hosts keep the discussion relaxed but focused on the topic and aren't afraid to debate the issues.
The Dramatists Guild's In the Room Series: this podcast differs from the others in that it is neither scripted nor talk show format; instead it's a series of live recordings of lectures and Q&A sessions given at various Dramatists Guild events featuring some of the most celebrated playwrights, composers and lyricists in American theatre today (in both musical and straight theatre). The discussion focuses almost entirely around writing and coming up with the concepts for a play, but this doesn't mean that actors and performers won't benefit from learning this podcast - in fact, it is essential to understand the playwright's perspective, in order to excel at acting.
Broadway Radio: the longest running podcast on musical theatre to date, Broadway Radio is essentially a theatre review, in which the host James Marino invites bonafide New York media critics on to each episode and lets them either rip apart or sing the praises of the shows currently running on Broadway. As a performer myself, at first I didn't see the value in listening to information from the media perspective, but it grew on me when I realized that the critics are extremely knowledgable and were providing me with a theatre vocabulary that you simply can't get without seeing the 10,000+ shows they've seen. Literally, 10,000+ shows. I enjoy hearing their opinions on casting choices, show length and format, writing and musical elements, and acting talent of course.
Theater People: similar to Something New, your host Patrick Hinds uses a talk show format and lets the conversation trail into a wide variety of topics as related to the guest's life and musical theatre journey; where it differs is that Theater People usually interviews actors whereas Something New has a variety of musical theatre professionals (dancers, stage managers, etc). If you are a performer looking for the real scoop on what a career as a leading man or lady is like on Broadway, this is your go-to podcast. Plus, Patrick's enthusiastic personality is contagious!
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