Johnny Bishop: "Michael Jackson inspired my journey from Trinidad to the West End"

Johnny Bishop: "Michael Jackson inspired my journey from Trinidad to the West End"

Johnny Bishop: "Michael Jackson inspired my journey from Trinidad to the West End"

Five Minute Call - S01E07 - Episode Summary

Johnny Bishop is a talented performer who has graced the stages of London's West End in productions such as Moulin Rouge!, Hamilton, and The Lion King. From his humble beginnings in Trinidad to his rise as a sought-after performer, Johnny shares his journey of passion, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of his dreams. Listeners will be inspired by Johnny's unwavering commitment to his craft and his ability to overcome the challenges faced by young performers in the highly competitive world of theater.

Johnny highlights the profound impact Michael Jackson had on his life and career. From a young age, Johnny was captivated by Michael Jackson's performances, watching his videos on repeat and even dressing up in his iconic costumes. Michael Jackson's influence was so significant that Johnny's parents encouraged his passion by providing him with videotapes of the legendary performer. This early exposure to Michael Jackson's artistry ignited a spark within Johnny, setting him on a path to pursue his own dreams in the world of performing arts. Johnny's story serves as a powerful reminder of the way in which our early inspirations can shape the course of our lives and the importance of nurturing the passions of young people.

Throughout the episode, Johnny offers other valuable insights into the realities of the entertainment industry, discussing topics such as the importance of training, the role of perfectionism in performance, and the need for resilience in the face of rejection. He also shares his experiences as a teacher and choreographer, shedding light on the differences between dance and singing instruction and the impact of strict training methods on young artists. Aspiring performers and fans of the performing arts will find Johnny's story both informative and motivational, as he emphasizes the significance of hard work, dedication, and a genuine love for one's craft.

Oren and Claire's engaging interview style allows Johnny Bishop to open up about his personal journey, creating an intimate and revealing conversation that will resonate with listeners from all walks of life. From his early days at Sylvia Young Theatre School to his current success in the West End and beyond, Johnny's story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of following one's passion. Whether you're a fan of musical theater, an aspiring performer, or simply someone in search of inspiration, this episode of the Five Minute Call podcast is a must-listen, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a true artist and the challenges and triumphs that come with pursuing a career in the performing arts.

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Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Johnny: I'm afraid because I know when the, the five, six, seven, eight comes and the lights are there and the [00:00:05] action and the audience. And you have to open your mouth and it has to be there. And that pressure. I'm like, if we [00:00:10] put the, the big note at the end of the defying gravity as the goal, it has to be scored every night.[00:00:15]

[00:00:15] Johnny: Every single night. It has to be because the second that you don't score it. [00:00:20]

[00:00:21] Claire: So take us back to the beginning. Where did it start?

[00:00:24] Johnny: [00:00:25] I started watching Michael Jackson at the age of four, and I, I remember [00:00:30] watching tapes like over and over and over, and I remember saying to my mom, I was like. Pointing at the stage and [00:00:35] going like, this is, this is what I want to do.

[00:00:36] Claire: Introducing Johnny Bishop, from a dream of being in The Lion King as a kid, to [00:00:40] starring in some of the biggest West End shows like Moulin Rouge!, Hamilton, and In the Heights, and has appeared on [00:00:45] film in The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins Returns.

[00:00:47] Johnny: I think there's definitely something about being on [00:00:50] stage.

[00:00:50] Johnny: I know that something comes alive. It's almost like you're like, soaring. It just [00:00:55] The thing opens up and you're there. I think I also have this thing in my mind where it's [00:01:00] possible. If, if they can do it, I can do it because they're not an alien. They're human. I [00:01:05] remember the things open and the audience were just like, they just went, [00:01:10] wow.

[00:01:10] Johnny: So I'm in this pose like this and I'm like, oh my Jesus. Like, I just hope that I hit [00:01:15] this note.

[00:01:15] Oren: Hello and welcome to the five minute call. This is a podcast where we take a deep dive [00:01:20] into the stories of the people that make theatre happen. Today we are talking to [00:01:25] Jonny Bishop. Jonny has been in the original London cast of Moulin Rouge, [00:01:30] the original London cast of Hamilton, In the Heights and The Lion King.

[00:01:34] Claire: Jonny's also [00:01:35] appeared on film in The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins Returns. So [00:01:40] we're very interested in your story and we know you didn't start in London.

[00:01:43] Johnny: Yes, that's [00:01:45] right.

[00:01:45] Claire: So take us back to the beginning. Where does it start?

[00:01:47] Johnny: The beginning, in the [00:01:50] beginning, once upon a time. Um, so I grew up in [00:01:55] Trinidad until I was 10 and I moved here to London at 10.

[00:01:59] Johnny: I [00:02:00] started watching Michael Jackson at the age of four. But just before that, [00:02:05] actually, I I really love the Spice Girls and my, my parents were [00:02:10] like, we need to get him like a guy that he could like look at. So [00:02:15] my mom was like, she said to my dad, she was like, um, please, can you get like some, you know, [00:02:20] videotapes or whatever?

[00:02:21] Johnny: So he went and got Michael Jackson. And then I was like, [00:02:25] Wow. And I, I remember watching the TV like over and over and over. I just used [00:02:30] to play his tapes like over and over and over, uh, the Motown, uh, [00:02:35] performance in Motown 25, which he was doing Billie Jean. And then eventually I got all the costumes [00:02:40] and everything, and I had like the sparkly jacket, the sparkly socks, like I've been full out from a [00:02:45] very young age, always doing the most.

[00:02:46] Johnny: And it's all on, on like my request. I want this. I want that. I [00:02:50] want this. Basically, I took part in a competition. called 12 and Under, which is [00:02:55] for basically kids who want to perform. And the funny story is my mom, when she [00:03:00] was younger, she performed on it. So once they saw that I was like, sort of getting into [00:03:05] this, they were like, great.

[00:03:06] Johnny: My grandmother was like, Oh, take him on the show. So my mom was [00:03:10] like, okay, fine. We'll dress you up. We'll rehearse you. And my mom was like my choreographer. [00:03:15] Even though she's not like a choreographer or dancer, but she used to watch me and she'd be like, you keep doing the same [00:03:20] moves. You have to do more than, than this.

[00:03:23] Johnny: And also Michael in, [00:03:25] in that Motown 25 performance, he is singing as well. So [00:03:30] he's not only dancing. I was just going to dance. So she was like, you have to do more than what he was doing. [00:03:35] So we would sit there and she would write down the moves because this is how she would best knew to choreograph [00:03:40] things.

[00:03:40] Johnny: So she's like, okay, you're going to do a slow turn. Then you do the step, step, step. So, [00:03:45] We got that, we did that. And then I came first in the competition, which was really fun. [00:03:50] And then I went to, I'm, I was like four [00:03:55] when I was practicing. And then I must've been like six, five, [00:04:00] six or seven, maybe. So I came first and then, and then I got to the finals and I actually, I [00:04:05] think I came second or something like that.

[00:04:07] Johnny: And then from that point onwards, I think they were like, [00:04:10] Oh, this is good for you. Let's, let's sort of, um, You know, push [00:04:15] you in this and see if we can support you. So then a show from [00:04:20] London, um, called Carnival Messiah came to Trinidad and [00:04:25] the lady that produced it, uh, she lived in Leeds, uh, but she was a [00:04:30] Trinidadian.

[00:04:30] Johnny: So when she came, she brought some people from Leeds and then she [00:04:35] also hired a bunch of locals. And this is where it kind of, the story kind of really began. Pushes off. [00:04:40] Uh, I got into the show. My aunt was the costume designer on the show. So [00:04:45] she lives over here and she was like, I think you should, to my mom, you know, let him come to the audition.[00:04:50]

[00:04:50] Johnny: I think the show would be great for him. So I go into the audition. I, I get in and [00:04:55] basically I was just a kid running around the stage having a blast, but we would have like, 10 [00:05:00] hour rehearsals and stuff. Cause there was a lot of people and I would get home and be like, [00:05:05] I want to do it again. Like I want to go back like now, you know?

[00:05:08] Johnny: So this, I loved it. [00:05:10] And I remember saying to my mom, I was like pointing at the stage and going like, this is, this is like what I want to do. [00:05:15] And because there were some people from, uh, the UK that were in the show, [00:05:20] they were like, you know what? You should, um, you should audition for some [00:05:25] schools out here.

[00:05:26] Johnny: In London. So, and then the thing is my, [00:05:30] my, um, I know I'm jumping around, but it all makes time to try and tie it back together. But my, my [00:05:35] dad's dad is British or was British because he passed now. But, um, [00:05:40] so in that way I had like a British passport and my aunt lived here. So it was, I had [00:05:45] like these two sort of lucky stars if the, um, sort of ways that actually it [00:05:50] could work if I actually got in to a school.

[00:05:54] Johnny: So once [00:05:55] that show finished, um, Lion King came to audition [00:06:00] and Pippa came and she was auditioning for adults. But [00:06:05] because I was like a child performer at the time, I know there aren't any boys doing this at that [00:06:10] time in Trinidad. So I was probably one of like three boys. So then, [00:06:15] uh, I get into the room somehow because they're like, you have to see him.

[00:06:19] Johnny: [00:06:20] He's a little child. He's, you know, wants to do it. And I love Lion King. That was another thing I used to watch on repeat. [00:06:25] And so I went in dressed as Michael Jackson to a Lion King audition, which is just like, [00:06:30] I can just imagine it. It's just like, what's happening? You know, it [00:06:35] just, yeah, it's just like, just doing too much from the beginning.

[00:06:39] Johnny: Anyway, [00:06:40] you know, so then she, I remember Pippa was like, looking, just like, What's happening? So then [00:06:45] she tells me, okay, the next time you need to come like, you know, a bit simpler, but just, yeah. [00:06:50] So a year goes by, she comes back and then I end up going back to the audition, [00:06:55] this time in like just a t shirt, some shorts and a sandals.

[00:06:58] Johnny: And then she says, she's like, you know, [00:07:00] I guess that like they were happy with what I was doing, but you can't, [00:07:05] We can take adults from here, but we can't take kids. So, you should really [00:07:10] go to this school, Sylvia Young. She recommended, I think it was that and maybe [00:07:15] another school. And you need to be on an agency in London.

[00:07:19] Johnny: And [00:07:20] so, it took like a couple of years, sort of me begging my parents. I was like, You guys are holding me back, like, I want to go, [00:07:25] I want to go, I want to go. And they're like, what do we do with this child? Like, what's, what's happening? And my, I have an older [00:07:30] brother, brilliant, you know, like typical, but he, he's so like, [00:07:35] he's intelligent.

[00:07:35] Johnny: He has the brains and then very sporty. So football and all these things. [00:07:40] And I told my mom, I was like, I don't want to do that. I don't want to do the sports. I don't want to do [00:07:45] the football and the thing. And I, this is what I want to do. So [00:07:50] eventually they were like, okay. She started calling around, we got the [00:07:55] audition for Sylvia's.

[00:07:56] Johnny: In Trinidad, we have primary school, and then we have standard one, [00:08:00] standard two, three, four, and five. And in five, you write your exam to go into secondary [00:08:05] school. What do you guys call that, like, do you call, I mean, uh [00:08:10] We

[00:08:10] Claire: have SATs. SAT, right. In year six, yeah.

[00:08:12] Johnny: So SAT. Our one is called [00:08:15] Common Entrance. Okay.

[00:08:15] Johnny: So I ended up missing that because it fell on the same [00:08:20] day as my audition for Sylvia's. And I remember saying, [00:08:25] apparently, like the story goes, my mom tells me this story, that I told my brother, I saw him [00:08:30] studying one time, and he was older than me, so he was already past the SAT, he was in [00:08:35] secondary school.

[00:08:35] Johnny: And I saw him studying all this stuff and I was like, I'm not gonna do that. And my mom was like, [00:08:40] yes, you are, you're going to write the exam. And then it happened that the exact same day as my [00:08:45] exam was my audition. So I came over, I did the audition and [00:08:50] then I got a recall. So I think I had to come back.

[00:08:52] Johnny: And then what I did was I wrote my exam [00:08:55] further down the line. So the teachers had to like reteach me back at Trinidad, which they weren't actually [00:09:00] very happy about. If I, yeah, they, they weren't. Yeah. Cause that's, that's [00:09:05] the other thing, you know, because we were, you know, Because I think that the culture there is very academic [00:09:10] driven.

[00:09:11] Johnny: Um, I think at first there wasn't that much support for what [00:09:15] I was doing. And then I think my parents got quite a bit of flack, probably from [00:09:20] different sides. Some people were in support because they were like, Oh yeah, you know, he's doing [00:09:25] good stuff. And, but yeah, it was kind of a bit tricky at that point, but.

[00:09:29] Claire: Huge thing for [00:09:30] them to do. Yeah. Huge thing for them to support. And also kind of [00:09:35] incredible that you knew your mind so clearly.

[00:09:38] Johnny: That's about that. Yeah. I don't know. [00:09:40] I,

[00:09:40] Claire: I knew I wanted to sing when I was eight, like no, no question. So I, I can find [00:09:45] that in me, but I think I, I don't think I would have known it [00:09:50] so clearly to go, yeah, I can leave my family and travel.

[00:09:52] Claire: Well, this is it. Yeah.

[00:09:54] Johnny: [00:09:55] It's weird, isn't it? Yeah, I don't I, cause yeah, when I look back on that part of [00:10:00] me, it's, it's yeah, in some ways it is not a different identity, but it's like the [00:10:05] child version of me was very brave, very [00:10:10] just like, and it wasn't like, um, proud or anything. It was just, that's what I [00:10:15] want.

[00:10:15] Johnny: Here we go. And I'm going for it. And, and yes, mommy, I love you. Daddy, I love [00:10:20] you, but I need to go. And so I remember them sort of being like, [00:10:25] Oh God. So I did get into the school and then my mom and dad were like, okay, [00:10:30] to my aunt, can you come live with you? She's like, great. Fantastic. But again, [00:10:35] everything was a sacrifice.

[00:10:36] Johnny: So my brother stayed in Trinidad. I came to live with [00:10:40] my aunt. Um, I lived in their living room. So it's not like a big, it's like a, [00:10:45] Council flat, you know, so like, and my cousin was in the other room and they, [00:10:50] my aunt and uncle stayed in the other room. I lived there for many years and I, I think [00:10:55] we were always sacrificing at different levels to sort of make, make it [00:11:00] work.

[00:11:00] Johnny: I went to school here and it was, I loved it. I [00:11:05] loved it.

[00:11:05] Claire: Tell us about life.

[00:11:07] Johnny: At theatre school. At theatre school. What was that like? [00:11:10] Brilliant. Some people, I, do you know what, the thing is, some people didn't, didn't enjoy it, but I loved it [00:11:15] because the main thing was there were three days of academics and two days of [00:11:20] vocational, which was just like, so you, two days, Thursdays and [00:11:25] Fridays, you're singing, you're dancing, you're acting.

[00:11:27] Johnny: And basically to me, it's just playing around. Like you're [00:11:30] just having a ball and the first three days you have to focus and be like, okay, this [00:11:35] is like science and maths and all these different things that you just never ever use again. [00:11:40] I loved it. And we did this thing, um, called cabarets, which as, as [00:11:45] kids, what they would do is they would put us in like a group, a sort of select group, which again was very nice.

[00:11:49] Johnny: [00:11:50] Cause I guess if you were working very hard and whatever, you would sort of get into this group [00:11:55] and we would travel around the UK doing like. Sometimes outside of [00:12:00] London, doing performances at hotels. I was amazing. And we were dressed in costumes and [00:12:05] stuff. It was whole medleys and it's basically what is happening like in theater and stuff.

[00:12:09] Johnny: That's [00:12:10] kind of like what we're training as, as kids. So it was, and some of the people that, [00:12:15] uh, were in these cabarets are still doing it now. And we did that right through. Uh, [00:12:20] and also I think the teachers there were amazing because, [00:12:25] I don't know, I think the kids are quite mature, but also then we have to [00:12:30] learn different things.

[00:12:30] Johnny: So they were just always supporting us, and then helping us, guiding us through, because some [00:12:35] kids were in shows. So I did Lion King while I was at Sylvia's. So you end up missing days, and then [00:12:40] what they used to do is, they have this, this thing called CW1s, which I guess [00:12:45] is like your classwork, and they, they write down what you missed, [00:12:50] so that you can always, you get it like the next day when you come in.

[00:12:53] Johnny: So it was brilliant. [00:12:55]

[00:12:55] Oren: It was brilliant. So what advice then would you give to a young performer that is going through that [00:13:00] same kind of journey and they're in a sort of theatre [00:13:05] school and they're doing performing whilst also [00:13:10] studying? How do you actually keep up academically?

[00:13:12] Johnny: I mean I will say that my [00:13:15] mom was on me because I guess like academic wise coming from that background she's like [00:13:20] You have to, you know, so I think first of all, if for the person that's [00:13:25] doing it, if as much as you can do the work, I, I think in everything, if you can't, [00:13:30] like, if you're going to just put your best foot forward, that's always like, so [00:13:35] if you're on the train, do some work, then if you're, you know, you're at rehearsal, you're in the [00:13:40] dressing room or something, or anywhere that you can do the work.

[00:13:42] Johnny: And then I would say if there's anybody [00:13:45] around them that can help support them, that's also really helpful because up till [00:13:50] GCSEs, like my mom was like, Supporting me because like science and different things [00:13:55] like that were very, it's not that I can't do it, I got great marks at the end of my [00:14:00] time doing GCSEs, like really good ones, but my mom sat with me like reading through [00:14:05] the science books, because to me, I was like, I'm never going to use [00:14:10] this.

[00:14:10] Johnny: And so she sat down and she was like, we're going to read it together. And sometimes you [00:14:15] learn differently. So I, if I hear something and I see it, I know I take [00:14:20] it in a lot better than if I just sit in and read, you know, so I would say my [00:14:25] advice is if the, if you, if the person can also find extra [00:14:30] support, because when you're hitting the gate.

[00:14:31] Johnny: Did you take that

[00:14:32] Claire: as support at the time, or did you feel like, Oh God, I just don't want to [00:14:35] be doing it.

[00:14:35] Johnny: No, I was, I was grateful for, cause I knew I was going into [00:14:40] the exams and I wanted to, that's the other thing. I am also a bit of like, I [00:14:45] don't want to say perfectionist cause I'm letting go of that, but like, I want to do, yeah, you know, [00:14:50] Oh my God.

[00:14:52] Johnny: To my detriment. Um, but, uh, [00:14:55] Yeah, no, I, I want to do well, you know, I, I, yeah, I don't like to not do well. [00:15:00] So I was at school going back even to that first question about how was that life? I was very goody [00:15:05] good to shoes at school, you know, um, and so even to your question, [00:15:10] it's like, my thing was, what's the work?

[00:15:14] Johnny: Nothing else. [00:15:15] So the parties, the exploring at that age and stuff. [00:15:20] Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Didn't come till a lot later because I think [00:15:25] subconsciously, maybe it was probably embedded in me that I was like a lot of [00:15:30] sacrifices happened so like my folks didn't come over, you know I came by myself to live with my aunt [00:15:35] I was like, I need to make this work.

[00:15:37] Johnny: Because [00:15:40] I know, like, I remember one time back in Trinidad, one of the teachers, I was, before we [00:15:45] had to get into class, we had these lines, so we'd be in the courtyard and we have to line up and [00:15:50] every, uh, class would go into their different, you know, rooms or whatever it is. [00:15:55] And I was in the line, but my feet were tapping around and I was moving and the teacher came up to me and she was [00:16:00] like, you know, kind of thing.

[00:16:02] Johnny: And like, and, and then they were like, you're getting too big for [00:16:05] your boots. That was like, we've like a couple of years before I left. You're getting two big free boots [00:16:10] because I was, you know, I was seen as probably seemed fractious or [00:16:15] like, um, you know, not focused or whatever, which I was, again, I did really well in [00:16:20] the school, but because of my mom was like, but yeah, I was always, [00:16:25] yeah, wanting to do other stuff.

[00:16:27] Johnny: So I guess when I came here, it was just, I have to [00:16:30] really be in and make sure that this, this works, because [00:16:35] I know sometimes some of the people back at home may have been like, right. [00:16:40] What's, what are they doing? So then when I got into Lion King, I think that was like one of the sort of [00:16:45] stamps, even for my parents to be like, like he did it, you know, I remember telling my [00:16:50] mom and she was like, it's almost like, I think she always, she always believed [00:16:55] that I could do it.

[00:16:55] Johnny: But like, I think that is like a, like a real relief for them and almost [00:17:00] like, Oh my gosh, we really made this right choice to let this child go at this age. [00:17:05] Cause this is a crazy thing. And why did we do that? Yeah. And so my mom used to come up [00:17:10] for like six months and then my mom's mom would come over because they could only stay for [00:17:15] six months at a time.

[00:17:16] Johnny: Yeah, so my grandmother would come up and like look after me [00:17:20] because my aunt was pretty busy all the time doing costumes and stuff. So I'd see her of course and she'd look after me but, [00:17:25] so it was like the three of them. I had like three moms basically.

[00:17:29] Oren: So you had them, [00:17:30] so they came on rotation basically.

[00:17:31] Oren: Because you were so

[00:17:32] Johnny: young

[00:17:32] Oren: that you still kept looking after them. Wow.

[00:17:34] Johnny: Yeah, so [00:17:35] they would take, like they would take me to school or like, you know, and all that kind of stuff. [00:17:40] And so I think when I got into Lion King, it was really, that was like the, yeah, sort [00:17:45] of stamp of like, okay. And even for myself, it's like, I knew I could do [00:17:50] this.

[00:17:50] Johnny: I knew it.

[00:17:50] Oren: Wow.

[00:17:51] Johnny: Where

[00:17:52] Oren: did it go from there? So you've done Lion King. Cause I guess, cause [00:17:55] cause everything that you're speaking about really is. So passionate, but [00:18:00] also like, you know, you kind of, I think people can sort of get the impression that [00:18:05] you commit a lot. And I think that's, from working with you, that's very, very [00:18:10] true.

[00:18:10] Oren: And it's really interesting now seeing from an early age, just seeing like, [00:18:15] If you want something, you go for it. And I think [00:18:20] that's a really great skill, but I'm curious to know the sustainability of it. [00:18:25] Cause you did mention about perfectionism and how you're trying to let that go. How does that factor in?

[00:18:29] Johnny: I mean, it's a [00:18:30] lot. It's a lot. So we did Mulan together and you came in and, and while we were working on [00:18:35] auditions and stuff, I mean, it's hard. It's very hard because I think like, I think I [00:18:40] also have this thing in my mind where, uh, it's possible. If, [00:18:45] if they can do it, I can do it because they're not an alien.

[00:18:48] Johnny: They're human. So, which [00:18:50] sometimes it's not really the case, you know, Jeremy, like I said, yeah, [00:18:55] yes, they, uh, they've been given a gift and that is this, and I should, and this is what [00:19:00] I have, you know, this is what, but so. I will work till like, you [00:19:05] know, so during Mulan, you know, that was, it was tough for me because I think vocally [00:19:10] the requirements were, were tough and I, and my voice could do it for sure.

[00:19:14] Johnny: It was [00:19:15] doing it and reworked and stuff, but like the times that it wouldn't do it would [00:19:20] make me go like, Oh my God, you know? And so it's, I think the [00:19:25] perfectionism thing comes in there because if it doesn't happen, I am like, what's wrong? [00:19:30] Why can't you do it? And I, I think, so there's, it's [00:19:35] sometimes that is hard to sustain being like on it [00:19:40] all the time.

[00:19:41] Johnny: But I do listen to, I think, you know, there's like a lot of [00:19:45] motivational talks and stuff and, um, Les [00:19:50] Brown, uh, he always says this that I'll like, you know, uh, you shoot for the moon [00:19:55] and if you miss you'll out among the stars. So that is like something that, you know, [00:20:00] so I, if I'm, if I'm going in, I think you have to commit.

[00:20:04] Johnny: My [00:20:05] mom always says this as well. She was just like, you know, if you're going to do anything, just put your best foot forward. So I think [00:20:10] that's sort of been, uh, yeah, embedded in me. [00:20:15] Um, and yeah, you run into problems with it, but more [00:20:20] than often it serves you better. Then the not, you know what I mean?

[00:20:24] Johnny: Because I [00:20:25] think people also love effort and work ethic and [00:20:30] a person that like Tries and stuff like that. I know, like, if I see that [00:20:35] even cause I teach and stuff and you know, it's not like they don't need to be perfect. And that's, that's [00:20:40] the thing that I have to take on board. It's never that they're perfect.

[00:20:42] Johnny: What, what you're attracted to is the fight, [00:20:45] the bite, the passion, the, you know, that thing that makes [00:20:50] you feel something. So I don't know. I mean, I, I try to manage it. I try to [00:20:55] have a lot more self love or practice that. You know, it's art, and [00:21:00] at that, at some point, it's, it becomes, it can be messy when [00:21:05] you're trying to get your, your goal.

[00:21:08] Johnny: Or even, not even in art, [00:21:10] everything else. Athletes are the same. If you have to really run towards [00:21:15] whatever you, you're going for. I

[00:21:16] Claire: mean, I was saying to Warren earlier, I think you, you have one of the [00:21:20] strongest work and practice ethics of anyone I've worked with. [00:21:25] It's too much. Sometimes it's overdone. Oh my God.

[00:21:29] Johnny: I'm on [00:21:30] holiday and I'm like, Like blowing straws, like blowing bubbles, I literally, [00:21:35] that's me, yeah.

[00:21:36] Claire: But also, you seem to have, it's [00:21:40] interesting, you're saying about, you know, you always assume that it is possible because [00:21:45] you have such an open mentality to learning and to going down what I [00:21:50] call the rabbit hole and finding out what's at the other end of it.

[00:21:52] Claire: Like you're very open to that. There's no, [00:21:55] there doesn't seem to be fear. [00:22:00] Right.

[00:22:01] Johnny: Yeah.

[00:22:02] Claire: There's, there's never fear of, well, but what if I lose [00:22:05] this tone in the, in the pursuit of another, you're the, the [00:22:10] evolution of your vocal qualities has been beautifully [00:22:15] organic because you're never, you're never kind of going, no, no, no, I just want to stay here.

[00:22:19] Claire: Just let [00:22:20] me stay here. Right. Right.

[00:22:21] Johnny: Open to.

[00:22:22] Claire: And you're also incredibly self motivated, which [00:22:25] I wonder if you think, does that come from coming here alone?

[00:22:28] Johnny: Yeah. [00:22:30] I do wonder about that sometimes as well. It's interesting you raise that because like, [00:22:35] because now it's been, I guess, 20 years and I still feel like a, [00:22:40] a push, but like, I just, now it's like, I feel like I'm more [00:22:45] choosy to what I do, but it, there's definitely still this, like, [00:22:50] I don't know what it is, like an energy.

[00:22:51] Johnny: It's like a bite. Like I, I want to do this. I want [00:22:55] to, Achieve this. I still, which, yeah, from young, I guess. I don't know if it's that [00:23:00] move that made me do that or like now it's just habit. So [00:23:05] because my habit is to, to push, push, push, push, push until I achieve the thing that [00:23:10] I want. Um, I don't know. I don't know exactly [00:23:15] what, what is keeping me going like that, but I'm grateful that it's there.

[00:23:19] Johnny: Um, [00:23:20] you know, and that I still am enjoying it. But I think sometimes [00:23:25] the part, I need to go back to even what you're saying, Orin, it's like, I need to be careful because then the [00:23:30] joy comes out if you're fighting all the [00:23:35] time. You know what I mean? I think that's kind of, I think sometimes what I experienced.

[00:23:39] Johnny: [00:23:40] on Mulan was that like as amazing and [00:23:45] like there were some highs for me in the show that I loved and like I looking back on it like I [00:23:50] adore it I adore that we got to do these award shows I adore the things I sang that my [00:23:55] voice was doing those things and then there's also this other part which I guess [00:24:00] people don't really know because you won't know when the curtains come up we're all glamored up and [00:24:05] but you there's this other side that is is hard and very [00:24:10] lonely it's very Um, and yeah, [00:24:15] and, and at that point it's, I'm, I'm intentionally in my habit [00:24:20] going to these motivational talks to help me to continue [00:24:25] because I think it may appear that I'm like, I'm always on the thing, but actually sometimes I think [00:24:30] it comes out of fair.

[00:24:32] Johnny: My drive. to almost like, [00:24:35] not fair to fail, but like fair to not be [00:24:40] excellent at like what I think I should be. So it should be excellent in the show. So [00:24:45] I'm going to, I have to come and see you and have to have all these lessons. I have to make sure that it's, or if it's the [00:24:50] audition, I need to be able to present the right thing and it has to be brilliant.

[00:24:53] Johnny: So I have to do all these lessons to make sure that [00:24:55] how it doesn't mishap when I'm, Do you see what I mean? So like, sometimes it's not [00:25:00] always, I don't think for me out of a positive thing that I'm [00:25:05] going to be brave and I'm just working hard and I love it. It's sometimes it's like, I'm afraid [00:25:10] because I know when the, the five, six, seven, eight comes and the lights are there and the [00:25:15] action and the audience, and you have to open your mouth and it has to be there and that pressure.

[00:25:19] Johnny: I'm like, [00:25:20] so I need to be as best prepared for it. So some, I [00:25:25] think before, when I was a kid, I think it was just happening. It wasn't really, I was just [00:25:30] running. And now sometimes it's like, are you sure you're ready? [00:25:35] How, how can you make yourself as ready as possible? Um, so that you can at [00:25:40] least try and feel as comfortable as possible versus before.

[00:25:43] Johnny: What would happen

[00:25:44] Oren: if it went wrong? [00:25:45]

[00:25:45] Johnny: I was just gonna say that. Yeah, nothing. That's the thing. Well, actually, [00:25:50] uh, I think internally it sometimes affects me. Cause I [00:25:55] remember I was in rehearsal and one time things didn't go right. And, you know, and I, and I [00:26:00] think. That stuff. You do hold on to it. But [00:26:05] then I know it pushed me to get.

[00:26:07] Johnny: The rest of the stuff. So because of that experience, [00:26:10] a bunch of other amazing things happened. And so that's, yeah, it's a good question. Cause I [00:26:15] feel like I'm letting, I'm definitely feeling a different place. Now it's like maybe a [00:26:20] year ago. I don't know if that's just because I'm not having to do the thing every day.[00:26:25]

[00:26:26] Johnny: If it happens, if you went wrong, you go wrong. [00:26:30] That's the thing. And that's what I'm, I'm trying to learn and to enjoy. Like, even if I'm [00:26:35] taking like a dance class and stuff, That's the other thing. So [00:26:40] in dance, which I think is different from the acting discipline and the singing [00:26:45] discipline, there is a strive for perfection.

[00:26:49] Johnny: [00:26:50] Ballet, um, it, you know, when you're taking those things, it is, it's so [00:26:55] strict. And I was also in a hip hop company. Uh, when I was at Sylvia's. So year 10 and [00:27:00] 11, I was in this hip hop company and they were all older than me. So I was like the youngest [00:27:05] one. Um, but they let me in because I used to take their classes outside of, [00:27:10] uh, their company and, uh, I put my hat, [00:27:15] like, down to them.

[00:27:15] Johnny: They literally, Cisco Gomez and Kimberly Taylor, like, fantastic. They [00:27:20] were, trained, trained me. And I'm so grateful to them because [00:27:25] it was hard. It was hard, like, you know, it's, it, you're, you're, you're having to be [00:27:30] so, um, like a dart, you know, darts, like, and it's the [00:27:35] bullseye. That's what I think in the entertainment industry or like as performers.

[00:27:39] Johnny: That's [00:27:40] what I feel is sometimes different to, like, athletes. They're, um, they're amazing and, [00:27:45] and, like, for instance, like a footballer. Yes, they want to score the goal, but if they don't score the goal, [00:27:50] that's okay. That's part of the game. Boom, boom, boom. If, if we put the big note at [00:27:55] the end of the defying gravity as the goal, it has to be scored every night.[00:28:00]

[00:28:00] Johnny: Every. Single. Night. It has to be, because the second that you don't score it, [00:28:05] what's wrong with them? They're busted, or, you know what I mean, like, And how, and [00:28:10] so you have to really hit it. So I think that part of [00:28:15] things, I think really that, that discipline and probably because I trained in it a lot [00:28:20] and even now teaching it, there is that, that sort of discipline, but then [00:28:25] it flips sometimes to the other side of you want it to be perfect.

[00:28:28] Johnny: And then when you get to singing and [00:28:30] stuff, I feel like you can make. sounds that are not [00:28:35] perfect, but it is authentic and it is beautiful and it's the right thing for [00:28:40] that moment and that's okay and it's brilliant. And then when you get to acting, I remember I was, I was doing [00:28:45] a lot of acting classes in the pandemic and um, it's like [00:28:50] the reverse.

[00:28:51] Johnny: They don't want anything perfect. They don't want anything [00:28:55] showed. You can't place this here. You don't think about that. What you're thinking about is this thing. And what we [00:29:00] want is. I just want to see the mess. And in dance [00:29:05] sometimes you, you clean up all of it. You just, and you look in the mirror, you know, we work with mirrors a [00:29:10] lot.

[00:29:10] Johnny: So you're always striving for the matching arm of this person, this person, the person, okay, [00:29:15] our arms are there, and then our arms are there. Perfect. And then the head and the chin is to that detail. [00:29:20] Do you know what I mean? So, and then you put that into, I think sometimes you just, you [00:29:25] walk with that.

[00:29:25] Claire: So as a teacher, do you, do you think it's possible to teach dance [00:29:30] And maintain a healthy perspective on that question.

[00:29:34] Claire: [00:29:35] perfection. I'm interested because you're now going at it from the other end. You're, yeah, you're now at the front of the class. [00:29:40] Do you feel that you need to, to make a change in how it's taught? Do you feel that [00:29:45] it's possible to make a change?

[00:29:47] Johnny: You know, even like my friend Cisco, the one who taught me, you know, like even, [00:29:50] I think as we go along, like even his methods of teaching have changed.

[00:29:54] Johnny: He's still [00:29:55] strict. But then there's also a lot of like love and I think that I think, [00:30:00] you know, some people probably manage this better than others, but I think you [00:30:05] have to have a certain amount of hold on them or on on students or whoever is [00:30:10] taking the class because, um, the good thing about the fair [00:30:15] based sort of way.

[00:30:15] Johnny: Yeah. Or the fire training, uh, where there is [00:30:20] like that heat breeds results because you do something, the [00:30:25] students will do something that they didn't think that they could do. So you could get that results out of them. And then I think on [00:30:30] the other side, you just have to have like, as soon as the class finishes, No, that [00:30:35] it's, they can be comfortable around you or loving with you or that kind of [00:30:40] stuff, you know, so that, so that there's a balance in terms of if I think I could change, not [00:30:45] change it, not particularly because I think it's so widespread.

[00:30:49] Johnny: And I [00:30:50] also feel that like a lot of the people that I look up to, [00:30:55] uh, their training may have been very, very tough, like super tough. [00:31:00] And then, but when I see them on the stage, I'm like, I want to be like them. So I [00:31:05] can't say, you know, but I can only do, I guess what I'll do, which is I try and have like a [00:31:10] balance of like, you know, you do have to push them because, um, if they [00:31:15] don't feel the toughness of it, the other part is when they get into the industry.[00:31:20]

[00:31:20] Johnny: Um, then they're not aware of what circumstances they can [00:31:25] come into. And so, and then I think it also just helps them to [00:31:30] be a bit more on the ball, a little bit on their toes, which I feel like we all are [00:31:35] when, when we get into a room, because we've seen how different things happen. And then you would [00:31:40] just, you try and support them as much as you can, or at least let them know that the [00:31:45] toughness is coming from a place where we want them to be.

[00:31:47] Johnny: You know, [00:31:50] as, as long as I think those sort of lines are made clear or sort of [00:31:55] those are givens, then, then I think it's, it's good.

[00:31:58] Claire: It's really interesting because I think [00:32:00] that's quite different from my experience of [00:32:05] coaching. Yeah. And I'm sitting and thinking, [00:32:10] could I coach with, with that? I think we are always looking for excellence.

[00:32:14] Claire: We're [00:32:15] always. Searching for the most and the [00:32:20] best that your voice can produce. I genuinely think it's counterproductive in the [00:32:25] singing realm.

[00:32:25] Johnny: I think so too, yeah. And it's

[00:32:27] Claire: interesting to me that that, that the two [00:32:30] disciplines should be so different because we're still talking about the body, we're still talking about muscles.

[00:32:34] Claire: Yeah, you're

[00:32:34] Oren: [00:32:35] right, you're right. But I think we're fundamentally using the body differently. I think with, with [00:32:40] dance, there is a greater sense of precision and [00:32:45] control over the body. Whereas with singing, [00:32:50] if we had that level of control and tension [00:32:55] I think we lose a lot of the, a lot of what we want from the voice because we're [00:33:00] introducing more constraints.

[00:33:02] Oren: I think singing is more freeing. I [00:33:05] mean, obviously dance is very freeing, but in a very different way.

[00:33:09] Claire: [00:33:10] What's your experience of it within your physical experience?

[00:33:14] Johnny: [00:33:15] Singing, and I, for me, and I think for a lot of people, would probably come from the [00:33:20] downside. I've heard this as well. I would say it sometimes is a very vulnerable place.

[00:33:23] Johnny: [00:33:25] Is powerful, but it's also, on the flip side, [00:33:30] quite scary to sometimes open up. But I do, I have experienced that moment where, [00:33:35] I think I was doing In the Heights, I really loved it. Dark Show and I was covering a part [00:33:40] and I remember going on stage and this, this part had to sing more and there was like this rap section [00:33:45] and you stand in this chair and you like, you sort of like go out to the audience like [00:33:50] with your hand and you're like rapping this, this thing and the rap is like amazing and I'm like, I'm not a rapper.

[00:33:54] Johnny: [00:33:55] So I was like, I need to get this together because These people looking at me [00:34:00] thinking that I can wrap these words. And I remember feeling, it was almost like say my part [00:34:05] had these like little pretty wings. Like this was like the part that I would do and that's, I [00:34:10] had a role, but I covered another role.

[00:34:11] Johnny: And when I got into that role, it was like the, the [00:34:15] wings just went out and it was amazing. And. Uh, I've definitely [00:34:20] like through Mulan I felt lots of times where it it just felt like free It's almost like you're like [00:34:25] soaring you just the thing opens up and you're there and it's like this amazing experience [00:34:30] but then I think with dance it's different where I just it's almost like [00:34:35] for me the music is there and you're just You're just in and I remember I spoke [00:34:40] to one of my friends recently and he said what do you think about when you're?

[00:34:43] Johnny: Dancing and I was like this sounds so [00:34:45] corny, but it's like what billy elliott said. It's like You You, you know, he's like, I suppose it's like [00:34:50] forgetting losing who you are, right? The whole lyrics and he's like electricity. You literally just you're just in I don't I [00:34:55] this to some point you don't really think at some point you might be like, Oh gosh, I hope I hit the step [00:35:00] correctly.

[00:35:00] Johnny: Boom. Okay. That's great. Now it's done. And I'm, I'm going, but I was going to say that I [00:35:05] think it's different for teaching, singing and dance. I [00:35:10] mean, mostly you would be working one on one, right? So we usually work, I'm [00:35:15] working with like a group of like 20 or 25, sometimes a lot [00:35:20] bigger. And then the idea is to get that whole mass.

[00:35:24] Johnny: It's [00:35:25] moving in the same direction in the same way with all the dynamics and I want [00:35:30] to see it correctly. You know what I mean? So you're just like, and then there's, you know, usually [00:35:35] some classes are brilliant and you have people that have the mindset of like, we're [00:35:40] here to work. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

[00:35:41] Johnny: And I see it even like, you know, cause I teach at a college. [00:35:45] So you have different energies for every group. It's so interesting. You're teaching the same [00:35:50] thing to each group. And one time, one group can come in and the class is like on fire. [00:35:55] It's like fireworks and everything. And it's just like soaring.

[00:35:58] Johnny: You're just like, Oh, this is a breeze. [00:36:00] You get to the next class and you're like, why does it look like this? Like what's happening? Like, [00:36:05] do you know what I mean? It was like. what's going on and you and you do and you see that and you're like it's a bit [00:36:10] different because i feel like if you were like if both because [00:36:15] both of you all have worked with me if you were strict with me like while i was singing and stuff i'll be like this is [00:36:20] too much it's too much because you have to it's almost like it's the reverse of that you're always having [00:36:25] to let go of everything for it to like open up, [00:36:30] you know, so it's you and you, and I do feel like dances can be [00:36:35] very emotional as well.

[00:36:37] Johnny: But I think with singing, there is something that is [00:36:40] like tied to like your voice, like the, just the, the thing of the [00:36:45] voice, like that, like emotion. So if you're, [00:36:50] I don't know. Like if you're, you have to sing this high note, you know, when you guys say cry or whatever, [00:36:55] like that stuff, like you can't be tense.

[00:36:57] Johnny: So I think it's very different. Like the [00:37:00] mind work is so helpful in the singing realm, but I think with [00:37:05] dance, you know, I just, and I think it's, it's how it's passed down from, you know, Generations, you know, [00:37:10] like, so my mentor Cisco, you know, the training that he had and who he worked [00:37:15] under, you know, they're tough.

[00:37:16] Johnny: Um, and, and I look at that person and I think that they're [00:37:20] amazing and I know he trained under Brian Friedman and Brian is amazing. [00:37:25] You know, fantastic. And, but the people that trained Brian, again, everybody is like, [00:37:30] you know, and as you go up the ladder, they're probably stricter as you, you know what I mean?

[00:37:34] Johnny: [00:37:35] Like, because they're, now everybody is, um, in the modern day, it's like, [00:37:40] you know, you can't say this, and we have the pronouns, and we have the [00:37:45] this, and this, and all these different things that are happening now where people are taking so much more care. [00:37:50] You have to be so much more careful. But back in the day, get it together.[00:37:55]

[00:37:55] Claire: Yeah.

[00:37:55] Johnny: Your cup. You know, I remember seeing one time we were in company [00:38:00] rehearsals and we were supposed to remember these routines, and one girl didn't and [00:38:05] he was just like, you need to go, you need to leave . Wow. We [00:38:10] saw her pick up a bag and she left the rehearsal, and we were just like, but [00:38:15] what does that do?

[00:38:16] Johnny: One to the person? Yeah. In some way. So there's the, there's the [00:38:20] negative side, right? Mm-Hmm. where, how does that affect the person? But [00:38:25] the teaching part of it is, is that. Now, they have a choice. Will [00:38:30] they do that to themselves again? Because everybody else knew the routines, right? So, oh, and [00:38:35] then for the rest of us, it's like, make sure you guys, you're on [00:38:40] it.

[00:38:40] Johnny: So this, so now when I'm teaching, I have that sort of instilled, [00:38:45] not that I do that, but I, I tell them, this is how we work. We're going to do this routine [00:38:50] this week, next routine that week, sorry, the same routine next week. And then I want to see it [00:38:55] done by the third week. We have like three weeks, you know, and so by that expectation, [00:39:00] but that's coming from the generation before.

[00:39:02] Johnny: You know what I mean? So it's like, you just, you kind of pass [00:39:05] down what you get taught, whether sometimes it's the right way or the wrong [00:39:10] way.

[00:39:10] Claire: I think it is possible to chase excellence. [00:39:15] Yeah. And build in some understanding. So the first thing I'm thinking in that [00:39:20] situation is, is we need to have a conversation with that person and say, why has this not been learned?

[00:39:24] Johnny: [00:39:25] Right. Yeah.

[00:39:26] Claire: Is there something we can do to support you with it? Because maybe you learn in a different [00:39:30] way or whatever. Now, if that is fruitless. Then of course we have to say, I'm sorry, [00:39:35] this isn't working, you know, but I think that's, that's the difference, isn't it? Is actually making the [00:39:40] connection and finding out.

[00:39:41] Claire: Yeah. Why it's going wrong.

[00:39:43] Johnny: Why it's happening, yeah. Which maybe

[00:39:44] Claire: didn't [00:39:45] happen before, but it's definitely happening a lot more. And it's why I encourage all the [00:39:50] performers I work with to go and have a conversation if they're struggling. Yeah. Like, go and talk [00:39:55] to your company manager. Go. It's super scary to do, but actually [00:40:00] now it's becoming something that companies really value because then they can help and [00:40:05] then they end up with a better company and a better performance.

[00:40:08] Johnny: So that's the thing. I think we're all [00:40:10] heading in a. better direction than previously because, um, [00:40:15] it's, yeah, I think in the dance world, some things sometimes have been said that are like, [00:40:20] you know, it's just, yeah, it's not, yeah. I mean, even in theater and [00:40:25] directing and all that stuff, it's like,

[00:40:27] Claire: we didn't actually do a, you know, what happens [00:40:30] after Sylvia Young.

[00:40:31] Claire: Yes. Yes. Let's go back to edit all that out. [00:40:35]

[00:40:35] Johnny: Start again. Yes.

[00:40:37] Claire: Just to fill in the blanks.

[00:40:38] Johnny: So, um, [00:40:40] Sylvia Young happens. I finished Sylvia Young, loved it. It was brilliant. [00:40:45] Then I got into a band. It was two boys, two girls, um, [00:40:50] out of Sylvia Young. So they had like their own band. Um, and that, [00:40:55] uh, it, I think I was in it for a year and at the time I had [00:41:00] gotten into Lanes.

[00:41:01] Johnny: But I decided not to go because I wanted to do the band. [00:41:05] And then I was like, Oh, I don't think this is like really working for [00:41:10] me. I feel like I want to get like an education or something. So I went and did two years of graphic design [00:41:15] instead of continuing on in performing. While I [00:41:20] was doing that, I was.

[00:41:22] Johnny: I was on tour with an [00:41:25] artist because the course was only three days a week, but it was a full time course. Um, [00:41:30] so we did three days and then I would go [00:41:35] to I remember one time we were in Brazil, which was amazing. And then I was [00:41:40] at like these different festivals in town, like V Fest and all these different things we were performing.[00:41:45]

[00:41:45] Johnny: Um, and then, uh, I got a message [00:41:50] from, I think her name was Jamie. [00:41:55] Um, she, basically she was working for this agency. Um, and. She [00:42:00] said, what did you think about going into theater again? And I had sort of taken a step away from theater because I [00:42:05] was doing like a lot of commercial work. And I was kind of like, I started [00:42:10] assisting, sometimes choreographing even.

[00:42:12] Johnny: Um, and I was assisting Cisco [00:42:15] and, you know, helping out there. So then I, I went to audition for [00:42:20] In the Heights. And I remember thinking, I was like, Oh, you know, I don't know [00:42:25] about this, but I loved it. It was brilliant. And then I got into In the Heights. And then from then [00:42:30] on. I was like, this is it. Like, I love [00:42:35] this.

[00:42:35] Johnny: Because you get to dance, you get to sing, you get to act, you're expressing through all the channels, um, which [00:42:40] was amazing. And then, After that, it started to roll from there [00:42:45] because, um, then I got to do some films. I, you know, [00:42:50] Heights was Lynn. So that's kind of tied over into Hamilton. And then, [00:42:55] um, and then, yeah, I kind of, I feel like I've done a few films that Lynn [00:43:00] has been attached to.

[00:43:01] Johnny: Not by like, uh, on purpose, but it [00:43:05] just kind of worked out that way. So I was in Poppins while I was there with, uh, when [00:43:10] he was there and then we were going into Hamilton. So he knew that I was going into Hamilton [00:43:15] before I'd even said anything to him. Uh, which was interesting because he was on set and he [00:43:20] was like, yeah, I know.

[00:43:20] Johnny: And I was like, how'd you know, how'd you know that I'm doing this? It [00:43:25] was coming up like, you know, and yeah, he was like, yeah, he'd seen, you know, there were a couple of us. So, and, [00:43:30] and so I've sort of been in the theater space quite a bit and then [00:43:35] I would take some time out and then I might end up doing a bit of commercial stuff and, and then, [00:43:40] yeah.

[00:43:40] Johnny: And then I got into Mulan after the pandemic. Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge. Not [00:43:45] Mulan. Like, you know, the Disney film, uh, Moulin Rouge. [00:43:50] And yeah. And then here

[00:43:51] Claire: we are.

[00:43:52] Johnny: Really, I think that's kind of something

[00:43:54] Claire: strikes [00:43:55] me here all the way through this conversation. You speak with great passion [00:44:00] about dancing and singing.

[00:44:02] Claire: Yeah. Not at any point [00:44:05] have you mentioned audience. Uhhuh. .

[00:44:09] Johnny: Okay. [00:44:10] And I

[00:44:10] Claire: think that's quite interesting. Like a lot of people I speak to were like, you know, I did my [00:44:15] first Amram thing. Okay. And I, I just loved being in front of that audience. Or [00:44:20] audience. Mm-Hmm. , you know.

[00:44:24] Claire: It [00:44:25] just makes me wonder what the driving I mean, [00:44:30] clearly this was in you right, like, from the start.

[00:44:32] Johnny: Yeah.

[00:44:33] Claire: Is it the doing it [00:44:35] more than the performing it? I

[00:44:36] Johnny: think so. Yeah. I mean, there, I [00:44:40] think there's definitely something about like, um, for me being [00:44:45] on stage, which is like, I know that something comes [00:44:50] alive, like as a, like a, a switch or something, you know, like if I have to be on, [00:44:55] it's like.

[00:44:56] Johnny: And we're there. Boom. And I do love the audience and stuff, [00:45:00] but yeah, I think, and maybe that's why I train so much and I love that side of [00:45:05] stuff because to me, it's like, I think the audience and stuff, yes, [00:45:10] brilliant, but the art for me comes first. The art and the craft [00:45:15] of it. So I, I really enjoy, I, um, creating things as well [00:45:20] and doing like my own videos and working in studios and things [00:45:25] like that.

[00:45:25] Johnny: So of course I love performing, but also I think I can be [00:45:30] fulfilled if I collaborate with somebody. One person in a room [00:45:35] or if we have a great singing lesson and we, you know, we're doing the, or [00:45:40] we achieve something. Yeah. And I think that the audience, they, they always, they come on board like [00:45:45] last. Kind of, kind of thing.

[00:45:47] Johnny: I feel it's not like, that I [00:45:50] really think about that. I think if I, if I can do the best that I can do, then, [00:45:55] then that's gonna be great. And I think the other thing is, I always feel like, you [00:46:00] know, you just want to be able to move whoever it is.

[00:46:04] Claire: Does it change [00:46:05] anything for you? If the audience is saying that the brain doesn't necessarily know the [00:46:10] difference between performance and rehearsal, if you teach it performance.

[00:46:13] Claire: So yeah,

[00:46:14] Johnny: you

[00:46:14] Claire: [00:46:15] feel

[00:46:16] Johnny: that there's

[00:46:17] Claire: something changes. Does, does the audience [00:46:20] change what you do?

[00:46:22] Johnny: I think it, I mean, it gives you that extra [00:46:25] adrenaline for sure. I think, and especially even with things when it comes to like [00:46:30] high singing and stuff, sometimes actually having being in that space [00:46:35] where you're like, it's.

[00:46:36] Johnny: fight or flight, you know, because [00:46:40] everybody watching, you know, and then suddenly the body just, it's so it's intelligent. It's on its own. It has, [00:46:45] so it will do the extra thing. We were doing the Olivier's and I remember like we're, [00:46:50] we're behind the, the things are about to open like this and it's four of us [00:46:55] and we're like, so I'm in this pose like this and I'm like, oh my Jesus.

[00:46:59] Johnny: Like, I just [00:47:00] hope that I hit this note because this is going on camera. This is like all of the, the [00:47:05] best performers are in this room. I was like, it's, you know, it's fine if in a show, you know, it's not exactly, but [00:47:10] this one, this is it. And we had done that like maybe four times [00:47:15] for the day because we had, we got there early in the morning.

[00:47:17] Johnny: And we had to do like a tech run, a dress run, [00:47:20] and then like another dress run. So I'm now like, oh my gosh, and this is the [00:47:25] last day of the week. So we've done, we've done eight shows. And now we're doing, [00:47:30] um, this performance. And then, you know, you have another eight shows to go the [00:47:35] next week. There's no break.

[00:47:35] Johnny: So you're just like, ugh. And I remember the things open and the, [00:47:40] the audience were just like, they just went wild. Like, and we were sort of like in silhouettes or [00:47:45] whatever. And instantly, like all the, the nervous, like it just left. [00:47:50] I don't know how. I don't know how it left and I remember coming down and then it was just like it was just free [00:47:55] Like I was like, let's go.

[00:47:56] Johnny: That's probably one of the most confident times I felt [00:48:00] probably Or like, it was, I remember we all came off and we were like, that was so much fun. Like all [00:48:05] the three girls, we were like, it's amazing. Um, so yeah, I think that the [00:48:10] audience can definitely lift and [00:48:15] inspire and, you know, it makes it worth it.

[00:48:17] Johnny: There's a,

[00:48:17] Claire: talking, going back

[00:48:18] Johnny: to

[00:48:18] Claire: high notes and things. I [00:48:20] think sometimes in the rehearsal room, in the practice room, actually, [00:48:25] sometimes the stakes are not high enough

[00:48:27] Johnny: to warrant

[00:48:28] Claire: that sound. [00:48:30] And so it feels really alien and a bit like, really, am I going to make that?

[00:48:34] Johnny: And [00:48:35] space as well.

[00:48:35] Claire: And space, right? And then suddenly, actually, you're on stage [00:48:40] and there's an audience out there and it has to be right.

[00:48:42] Claire: And suddenly the stakes are in exactly the right place. And as you say, the [00:48:45] body is so intelligent. It's like, oh, okay, now this makes sense.

[00:48:48] Johnny: Yeah. It's [00:48:50] really weird. Because yeah, for instance, like Chandelier, for instance, you know, like in the show, [00:48:55] it's sometimes scary. Like that's actually probably easier in the, in the show.

[00:48:59] Johnny: In [00:49:00] actuality, then it is like in a studio. We're like in a room, [00:49:05] sing the note. You're like, this is like, it's just the top of the, how'd you even like get onto the, [00:49:10] you know, like, whereas you're in the show and you're moving around or whatever, and you know, like the, there's, you're playing it that way. [00:49:15] So like the, the audience is so big, it's, it's up and everything.

[00:49:18] Johnny: And you're, you know, so [00:49:20] already your body sorts of just, um, does that. So, yeah, I do think, [00:49:25] I think that it definitely changes. Yeah. Um, how [00:49:30] things, how things go. But. I guess the strive is to be able to do [00:49:35] it on demand, in a small studio, on a mic, or whatever it is, you know.

[00:49:39] Oren: So [00:49:40] you've come sort of full circle a little bit, because you, you started off performing.

[00:49:43] Oren: Yeah. Then [00:49:45] went into teaching, a little bit of choreography in between, um, and now [00:49:50] into producing your own, uh, videos. Yeah. Short form that is [00:49:55] encompasses all of those skills. Yeah. Tell me about

[00:49:57] Johnny: Jump. Jump, uh, is a [00:50:00] video that I just did and it's a dance based video, um, [00:50:05] which I think is going to be part one of possibly quite a [00:50:10] few different parts, which I kind of want to join up together.

[00:50:12] Johnny: Hopefully, maybe make a short film, [00:50:15] maybe a pilot, if somebody wants to invest or something, you know, to just Anybody? Yes, [00:50:20] um, because no, I, I think What I, [00:50:25] I love, I love being in the films and, and different things like that. And I felt [00:50:30] like I wanted to kind of be at the helm of it and see, see what that [00:50:35] was like.

[00:50:35] Johnny: And I, what was fun about it is I was, I was directing and then choreographing it. [00:50:40] And um, and then being in it. And I love sort [00:50:45] of getting to sort of hop around. Even on the day and we had a lot of fun. We laughed a [00:50:50] lot And that's the part where I think which kind of goes back even to [00:50:55] what we were saying before.

[00:50:55] Johnny: It's like the If, if you [00:51:00] can have fun on the thing that really makes it all worthwhile. So [00:51:05] I was talking to some of the dancers and they said, you know, thank you so much for like having us like it, we had such [00:51:10] a great time and experience and stuff like that. So yeah. And then, and then to see the [00:51:15] response, you kind of go shoot, like, that's it.

[00:51:17] Johnny: Like, that's what I want. That's, that's how I want to feel at [00:51:20] least, you know, that you can, You can make your own stuff that [00:51:25] is, I think, true to me. It's true that I understand what's happening [00:51:30] and then it has like an impact. It's impactful for me, but it's also [00:51:35] impactful for people that are. Um, and just to say like what happens in [00:51:40] Jump is basically, uh, there's an audition happening and, uh, [00:51:45] I'm playing this character who we don't know their name yet.

[00:51:48] Johnny: Um, but basically [00:51:50] he, the, the girls dance and then the, the boys dance and then, He [00:51:55] actually, he gets cut, um, and then the video kind of ends there saying like to be continued. [00:52:00] But the thing is the character is actually doing an amazing job. They're, you know, able to hit [00:52:05] all the steps and they're, they're correct with everything and whatever, and they're actually central.

[00:52:09] Johnny: Um, [00:52:10] and I remember some people when they saw it, they were like, Why did, why did you get, [00:52:15] like, that's, that's not true. Like, that's not it. And I'm like, but that's actually what, that's the [00:52:20] industry. It's like, it actually doesn't, you know, so I think in some ways, like, I guess it wasn't [00:52:25] like maybe a comment on.

[00:52:26] Johnny: Sometimes how things go.

[00:52:28] Claire: I was with some people [00:52:30] on Saturday morning just after you'd released it. Oh yeah. Who had seen it and a couple were [00:52:35] like, actually that really brought tears to my eye because that's real. That's real.

[00:52:39] Johnny: [00:52:40] Yeah. It's so hard and then you, you know, so for that character, you know, and in real, in the [00:52:45] reality is like you go away and you're like, what happened?

[00:52:49] Johnny: Like, I [00:52:50] don't understand. There was no feedback. It's just thank you. And that's, you know, That's what [00:52:55] happens. Y'all know. That's what happens. Because, yeah. And you just, you [00:53:00] wonder, yeah.

[00:53:00] Oren: Sorry, don't want to cut you off. So is that the idea behind this sort of series then, is to comment [00:53:05] on things that happen in this industry?

[00:53:06] Johnny: Uh, maybe. I think in this first part [00:53:10] there is probably a comment on it. Please, nobody be upset with me for that. But, you know, I just think [00:53:15] there is

[00:53:15] Claire: that.

[00:53:16] Johnny: Yeah, it's a real thing.

[00:53:17] Claire: It's a reflection of, not necessarily a comment [00:53:20] on, but, you know.

[00:53:21] Johnny: And then I think, but I, I, I just think [00:53:25] it's, what I hope to sort of do is to be like, just continue on, just keep pushing, [00:53:30] because if you do, I think the right thing will come for you.

[00:53:34] Johnny: That's [00:53:35] kind of, I think what I would like to say in the next coming things. [00:53:40] But I think in isolation, it probably, it is kind of like a comment to [00:53:45] say, this is what happens, and it's very hard, but it's actually nothing to do [00:53:50] with sometimes the, what you're doing. You know, it's to do [00:53:55] with, you know, and I've sat, I've, I've been on panels with like [00:54:00] different casting teams or whatever, and I've sat in, listened to different things and, you know, [00:54:05] it's not always the person who is, uh, the most talented or [00:54:10] right, you know, it's just like, who's right for the puzzle, you know, that [00:54:15] they're, that they, and that's, that's right.

[00:54:16] Johnny: That's going to serve the thing. And I think it's [00:54:20] hard. It's very hard for performers, you know, because you you're striving, you're striving [00:54:25] and then like. I guess they, I think there's space for everybody, but it's not [00:54:30] always that there's space in that particular thing, or that particular thing, and then, you know.

[00:54:34] Johnny: Or

[00:54:34] Claire: in this [00:54:35] moment.

[00:54:35] Johnny: In this moment, yeah. Yeah.

[00:54:36] Oren: So it's, it's tricky. You

[00:54:38] Johnny: hang

[00:54:38] Oren: in there. In this book [00:54:40] is a question written by the previous guest, and I don't have to [00:54:45] answer it. You have to answer the question. We've also not seen the question. Okay, this is actually a [00:54:50] fantastic question for you, in particular.

[00:54:52] Johnny: Oh god.

[00:54:54] Oren: It's really good. [00:54:55] If you could have made one change of direction in your career [00:55:00] trajectory, what would it have been and when would you, and when would you have made it? [00:55:05]

[00:55:05] Claire: Wow.

[00:55:06] Johnny: If I went to college. [00:55:10] You know, if that would have helped me get in the rooms for things better. Like, [00:55:15] cause I, for a while, until I did Hamilton, it was like, Hamilton became like the ace [00:55:20] card for me where they would be like, Oh, he's been in Hamilton.

[00:55:23] Johnny: Great. We'll get him in the room now. [00:55:25] But before that, it was like, who are you? What have you done? At this point I was, I was [00:55:30] doing, you know, really good stuff, but it just for casting directors and stuff, they [00:55:35] were like, He can't be seen for a role or he can't be seen for anything. So sometimes I think about [00:55:40] that, but the reality of it is, it's like, you know, I think I'm grateful for [00:55:45] where I'm at presently and the things that I've done.

[00:55:48] Johnny: And [00:55:50] it had to happen that way. That's how I feel. So I [00:55:55] actually, I wouldn't change anything. And actually, when I was younger, I [00:56:00] wanted to go to Royal Ballet because I trained on a Saturday [00:56:05] there while I was at Sylvia's. And I did, uh, yeah, so I was, I was getting like [00:56:10]

[00:56:10] Claire: hip hop, I'm very, yeah, I know.

[00:56:12] Johnny: Right. Just doing this.

[00:56:14] Johnny: I [00:56:15] made it guys. This me, I'm always doing the most doing, uh, it's doing the hip hop company with [00:56:20] the training methodology at Sylvia's. And then you get Royal on a Saturday. And [00:56:25] I remember I said to my mom, we actually argued about it. Cause I was like, you know, I think [00:56:30] I want to go and do that. I don't have the turnout to be a ballet dancer.

[00:56:33] Johnny: I don't have the, I'm too [00:56:35] short. I'm too, I'm too this, I'm too that. Like, I remember my teacher, he loved me, the ballet teacher at Royal. He was [00:56:40] like, I just, I just don't think that this is, It's not the direction, you know, [00:56:45] because there were others in the class who, their facilities were incredible, but I could, I can [00:56:50] move with them and stuff.

[00:56:51] Johnny: But when you, if you put like a, you zoom into like my feet, [00:56:55] the point is not correct. Turnouts not there. So, but, and I'm so happy that I [00:57:00] stayed at Sylvia's. I'm so happy that I did, you know, I, [00:57:05] I did the graphic design course, for instance, you know, so I would say, [00:57:10] I'm just, I'm going with it as it comes. And I don't [00:57:15] think I would.

[00:57:15] Johnny: I would change anything because getting, like getting to do Moulin Rouge and [00:57:20] stuff like that was amazing. I feel like it was like the, [00:57:25] I want to say amalgamation, like the pull in of like everything from before. Like I was, I [00:57:30] was always training my voice during Hamilton, doing the most for no reason because I'm in the ensemble.

[00:57:34] Johnny: [00:57:35] You know, they weren't, nobody was hearing me, but backstage I was doing voice exercises and, [00:57:40] and you know, and then cut to a couple of years later. Now you have to do the thing and you're at [00:57:45] the top of your range, so here we go, you know, so it's always been, so I feel like [00:57:50] I'm, I'm on the journey and, um, I'm always trying to put the [00:57:55] best foot forward at each point.

[00:57:56] Johnny: So wherever that lands me, that's it. You

[00:57:58] Claire: are only [00:58:00] ever the sum of your parts so far. Yeah, yeah. So that's, that's why I love [00:58:05] these stories because I think we see from where you are now that [00:58:10] this moment is the sum of all the parts that have come so far. Right. Really fantastic. [00:58:15] Thank you.

[00:58:15] Oren: Thank you so, so much.

[00:58:16] Claire: Could you write a question for our next guest? Oh my gosh, [00:58:20] yeah. Thank you so much for watching our episode today. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe so that you [00:58:25] won't miss an episode in the future.

[00:58:27] Oren: If you currently are or have been affected by any of the topics [00:58:30] discussed in this episode, please see the show notes below for some helpful [00:58:35] resources.


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