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LISTEN: Eric Jordan Young Shares His Long History With RAGTIME On WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast

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Eric Jordan Young was in the original production of RAGTIME, as well as the national tour and the Broadway revival.

LISTEN: Eric Jordan Young Shares His Long History With RAGTIME On WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast

Eric Jordan Young (Seussical, Chicago) is a two-time BroadwayWorld Award winner and joins host Patrick Oliver Jones to go behind the scenes as the only Ragtime performer to have been in the original Broadway run (and National Tour) and also been cast in the 2009 revival.

That initial production lasted two years and scored 13 Tony Award nominations, but was inevitably overshadowed by The Lion King for Best Musical. The revival, on the other hand, only lasted two months. According to Young, "I don't think people knew we were on Broadway." It had transferred quickly from it's out-of-town run at the Kennedy Center, and ticket sales only started to surge once the show announced its closing. The revival did end up receiving six Tony nominations, but lost all of them.

And for a time, Young says he didn't want to the show again. It was too hard, too heavy, too painful. "Getting called the N-word every night is difficult." But he goes on to say that "being respectful of everyone's experience as an actor within the context of the play is what is most important." And Young was actually set to be part of the Actors Fund's Ragtime Reunion Concert this past April. That benefit concert, which was postponed due to COVID-19 and the Broadway shutdown, was slated to star original cast members Audra McDonald ("Sarah"), Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Coalhouse Walker, Jr.") and Peter Friedman ("Tateh").

After the revival, Young did eventually direct a production of Ragtime at his alma mater Ithaca College. In fact, Young was the associate director of Norwegian Cruise Line's Footloose alongside previous podcast guest David Ruttura (School of Rock, Spider-Man), a Broadway associate director in his own right.

Young's career has now taken him out West, where he runs EnJoY! Production Group in Las Vegas. But it was challenging at first, he basically started at ground zero. When is came to show business, Young was well-versed in the "show" but lacked experience and knowledge of the business. "I was like what's EIN number?" Despite the steep learning curve, though, he's gone on to produce and invest in projects ranging from live corporate events and cruise entertainment to Las Vegas productions and studio recordings. He's even produced his own album "Once in a Lifetime" and created a one-man show Sammy and Me, showcasing his connection with the legendary Sammy Davis, Jr.

Despite setbacks, Young has reached enviable heights on both sides of the table, as a performer as well as a creator and producer. He credits much of that drive and determination to his family who encouraged his passion at a young age. "They didn't know anything about the industry. No one in my family is in the industry. I just had really great support that gave me the courage to want to achieve more."

Listen to the episode below!

Why I'll Never Make It is a weekly performing arts podcast hosted by actor Patrick Oliver Jones and features conversations with fellow creatives about the realities of a career in the arts. Past guests include Mykal Kilgore (Motown, Jesus Christ Superstar), Mara Davi (Drowsy Chaperone, Dames at Sea), and Jelani Aladdin (Frozen). Find these episodes and more at whyillnevermakeit.com.


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