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John Haggerty has been a dear friend of mine since 2003. I welcomed him to the feisworld podcast to share his experiences as an on and off-Broadway actor for over 25 years. John has appeared in productions such as Les Miserables (on Broadway and the national tour), The King and I, Miss Saigon, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, Gotham (TV), Batboy and The Living Room.
Even though I’ve known John for over a decade, we never had a chance to have an open career discussion such as this one. To my surprise, I’m re-discovering John and hearing stories for the first time.
In this episode, John reveals the randomness, rejection and excitement of living and working as an actor.
The day before our interview, John found out that he had been cast for a new show. I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to ask questions such as: How do you memorize dialog for Broadway shows that go on for hours? I was surprised to learn that John finds it much easier to memorize Shakespeare plays than modern dialog. In this podcast, he explains why.
My personal favorite is when John shares his method for memorization – he uses a yellow pad to 1) write out everyone’s lines, 2) highlight his own lines, 3) record in his own voice then listen on his iPod while running. All just to “trick” the words into his fingers, his brain, and further connect neural pathways.
“Traditional memorization methods at times still aren’t enough,” John says. “The demand for you as an actor to memorize your lines has sped up significantly today, possibly due to technological growth.”
John talks about what it’s like to perform in an iconic Broadway show such as Les Mis, as well as the routine of being an understudy, “put-in” rehearsal. I asked John how he faces the pressure of performance, a pressure we all feel in our working lives. John asks us to recognize and remind ourselves that “Everyone is trying their best. This is your moment – do the best with what you got and embrace it.”
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Select Links, People, On and Off Broadway Shows from the Episode:
- John Haggerty IMDB
- Les Miserables
- Miss Saigon
- The King and I
- Bat Boy
- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
- Actor Colm Wikinson in Les Mis
- Musician, songwriter, actor, director Wayne Coyne
Show Notes (Times Are Approximate):
- Who is John Haggerty? In his own words… [5:30]
- Wacky adventure being part of the acting community – people you meet from directors to producer to finance [5:00]
- How did you start your career? [12:00]
- Acting in “Les Mis” – a dream come true [13:00]
- Performing with a living legend Colm Wikinson [15:30]
- What is it like to be an actor – audition process, working with an agent? [18:00]
- How do you rehearse Broadway shows, memorize your hour-long script? [23:00]
- Expectation (as a result of technology) today: The demand for you as an actor to memorize your lines has sped up significantly today [27:45]
- The excitement of being on edge [31:00]
- Being a swing on Les Mis – experiencing multiple characters [32:45]
- King and I – one of the biggest parts for John [33:45]
- What is it like to act in a show for weeks, months, years at a time? How do you pump yourself up? [35:30]
- Play – because it’s supposed to be fun. [39:45]
- Advice for people who are starting out to pursue an acting career [41:45]
- Podcast – is a way to step up on stage, putting yourself out there [46:45]
- Live singing over Skype [51:00]
- The experience John has created for the rest of us [53:15]
Last but not least, our moments (with Wayne Coyne, Kimiko Glenn and crew) to share from after John’s performance for Yoshimi.