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Bart Shatto Talks About Working With Patti LuPone And Touring With A Rock Band On WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast

Why I'll Never Make It is a weekly theater podcast hosted by actor Patrick Oliver Jones.

Long-time Broadway actor Bart Shatto (LES MISERABLES, War Paint) joins fellow actor and podcast host Patrick Oliver Jones to discuss how he handles his nerves onstage, deals with bad reviews, and almost lost his job with arena rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Listen below!

As War Paint was set to close in 2017, Shatto was brought into the cast as a replacement and all his scenes were with Patti LuPone. "Meeting her for the first time was pretty daunting." But Shatto got some great advice from others who had worked with her and found that he had nothing to be nervous about. Any rumors about LuPone being hard to work with never surfaced throughout his short time with the show. And Shatto has his own theory about why that was, "Patti takes the work seriously and whatever crazy stories there may be are probably from people who didn't take the work as seriously."

It is this dedication to acting as both an art form and a craft that has sustained Shatto throughout his career, especially in shows that may not have gotten the best reception. In early 2019, there was a lot of hype and expectation surrounding Tom Kitt's new off-Broadway musical Superhero. Yet ultimately the reviews were mixed, and the show's Broadway hopes were never realized. "Everybody was hurt by the lackluster response, but most importantly it wasn't discussed in the dressing room." Again, Shatto and the cast took the work seriously and put on the best shows possible until the final curtain call.

But nothing in his days of national tours and Broadway run really prepared him for his initial auditions and rehearsals with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. "That tour life was pretty crazy!" But it almost didn't even happen. Shatto recounts the story of nearly being fired from the group and the novel idea that saved his job. The character he created, Gerald McNally, went on to become a favorite with TSO fans and led to a 14-year relationship with the band.

Shatto and Jones have known each other 5 years and share a great deal of mutual respect for each other. This was forged in their first show together, a new musical adaptation of Treasure Island at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, now part of The Rev Theatre Company. However, Jones opens up about how he really struggled in that show, and Shatto and the cast were both confused and amused at the constant mistakes. But looking back on it, Shatto recognizes that the cast wasn't any help during those difficulties. "Really we should all learn from this experience, to be there for your fellow man."

That sense of connection and of family has meant the most to Shatto. He learned the hard way that theater can often impact and impede our personal lives in negative ways. The constant traveling and financial ups and downs can lead to shifting priorities. But now, he sees it differently. "At the end of the day it comes down to relationships with family and friends, and nurturing those relationships."

Why I'll Never Make It is a weekly theater podcast hosted by actor Patrick Oliver Jones and features conversations with fellow creatives about the realities of a career in the arts, all while challenging the notion of what it means to "make it" in this business. Past guests include Broadway leading man Douglas Sills (Scarlet Pimpernel, War Paint), Jelani Alladin (Frozen), and Caitlin Kinnunen (The Prom). Find these episodes and more on WINMI's website.

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