John Battagliese


EP 123: John Battagliese (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it. Episode 123. Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today, John, that Elise, are you ready for this John?

[00:00:15]John Battagliese: [00:00:15] I’m ready.

[00:00:16] Dane Reis: [00:00:16] All right. John is a bi-coastal singer and actor originally from Philadelphia. Most recently, he was seen as David in the holiday, hit love, actually live at the Wallace Annenberg.

[00:00:28] John toured the country as Greg McConnell in the first national tour of cruel intentions, the nineties and musical. Other credits include Romeo in Baz star cross to love hairspray at the muni, the world premier of have you met Ms. Jones, alongside Academy award winner, Shirley Jones and the U S and West coast premiers of grumpy old men.

[00:00:50] The musical. He has also been seen in concert at town hall as the 2016 Broadway rising star. The Kennedy center Lincoln center, and is a regular at 54 below. John, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but tell us more about yourself, filling the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

[00:01:17]John Battagliese: [00:01:17] okay. So I am from Philadelphia, born and raised. Um, I grew up in, went to Catholic school here, me and the nuns, um, um, fell in love with fell in love with performing and. Then went to school in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati conservatory of music, um, had four awesome years there showcased to move to New York and then life kind of took off from there, there.

[00:01:40] So as a performer, I, you know, I majored in musical theater and that’s kind of where, um, My love for performing started. And now with the state of the world, I’m realizing that there are so many other facets that I can lend those talents to. So I’m now trying to switch more into TV and film and songwriting and all that fun stuff.

[00:02:00]Dane Reis: [00:02:00] Yeah. Very cool. Yeah. It’s been quite the ride. These last, a handful of months. Hasn’t it.

[00:02:05]John Battagliese: [00:02:05] Uh huh.

[00:02:07]Dane Reis: [00:02:07] Well, Well, let’s move on to our first section here. And John, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is

[00:02:15] John Battagliese: [00:02:15] Aren’t we

[00:02:16] Dane Reis: [00:02:16] quote you’d like to share with everyone?

[00:02:18]John Battagliese: [00:02:18] okay. My favorite quote is kind of long. It’s a Teddy Roosevelt quote, and it’s the one about the man in the arena. Can I read it to you? I literally have it on my computer at all times. All right. So, um, it’s goes, it’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who’s actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.

[00:02:50] But who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions who spends himself in a worthy cause who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

[00:03:12]Huh? It’s mouthful.

[00:03:13] Dane Reis: [00:03:13] Yes, but that is such an incredible quote.

[00:03:18] John Battagliese: [00:03:18] Yeah, I love

[00:03:19] it. 

[00:03:20] Dane Reis: [00:03:20] this in, well, it sums up a lot of life, but especially our industry. Can you delve into a little bit how that is applied to your career?

[00:03:30]John Battagliese: [00:03:30] For sure. Yeah.  my brother is 13 years older than me and was not a performer at all is an athlete and a business person. And he took me to my Cincinnati audition. My parents couldn’t go and he doesn’t know anything about theater, obviously, but I was so nervous and he sent me this quote, like before I went in the room to like read over and over again.

[00:03:52]and it just kind of. It gave me the confidence I really needed in that moment. Um, and if you’re familiar with musical theater schools, they tend to have like a freshman showcase at the end of your first year. And we all had to write showcase monologues. And I mine about my brother giving me that quote and how it applies to my freshman year and learning all of these things.

[00:04:13]Um, And so it closed out our showcase and it was, it’s just kind of shown up a lot in my life. And I think it’s so special because so much of what we do is fail and fail again. Um, and it’s hard to, I have the confidence to keep doing it and keep it. Yeah. Yup. Um, and I think the thing I like about this is that it says you will fail, but , you will know no victory.

[00:04:35] If you don’t try to fail at least.

[00:04:37]Dane Reis: [00:04:37] Yes. Yeah. You have to take the journey, right.

[00:04:39]John Battagliese: [00:04:39] Yeah.

[00:04:40]Dane Reis: [00:04:40] Very cool. And let’s move on to this next section here in John. Of course, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you would agree this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries in existence.

[00:05:00] And you know, you know, as well as I. That in order to create and have a successful career in this industry like you’re having now, it takes a lot. Of dedication and hard work. And while, yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer, doing what we do. There are also our fair share of challenges, obstacles, and failures.

[00:05:20] We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:05:34]John Battagliese: [00:05:34] I can’t think of one specific failure, but I think the idea and the act of actually experiencing failure and having to find ways to live and cope through it. Was the biggest challenge because no one can teach you to do that. That’s something that you have to experience and grow from the way you’re going into experience and grow from it.

[00:05:55]Um, so I think that was it. It was kind of learning that you will fail and you’re not going to get the show or the thing you really wanted. Isn’t gonna play out the way you had hoped. Um, But that there is some there, I have a feeling that there’s just some greater plan and you’re on the track that you were supposed to be on.

[00:06:14]Dane Reis: [00:06:14] Yeah, you’re so right. Uh, failing is a full on thing in this industry in life, for sure. For the rest of the. Non-performers and entertainers in the world, but this industry in particular is so intense with failure. It’s a fact of life that you are not going to book every single job you submit for or audition for.

[00:06:35] And you’re in some time it’s really easy. It’s very typecast. And you’re like, okay, thanks for showing up. But you’re just not the person. And then other times it’s absolutely grueling because you get to that last position and it’s between you and another person. And it’s so gut wrenching, 

[00:06:51] John Battagliese: [00:06:51] Yeah,  it’s one thing to say. I think you’re told in school, or when you’re trying to do this, how hard it is, and people always are trying to deter you. Um, and they’re equal. It’s not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. And it is one thing to hear that or see it on paper, but it is another thing to be so close to something and have it not play out.

[00:07:10]And then have to figure out how you’re going to go on from there, because like that quote says, you can’t give up, like you, you can’t let this one thing keep you out of the arena. Um, and I think that was the biggest challenge was having to learn that on my feet. And I think that’s kind of the biggest challenge for a lot of us.

[00:07:27]Dane Reis: [00:07:27] Yeah, for sure. But as long as you keep getting up and you keep moving forward, that’s really what matters.

[00:07:31]John Battagliese: [00:07:31] Yeah.

[00:07:32]Dane Reis: [00:07:32] Great. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for living or maybe it was, yes. This is what I need to be doing as an entertainer.

[00:07:53] Tell us about that.

[00:07:55]John Battagliese: [00:07:55] to no surprise. It started, uh, production of grease. makes a lot of sense for who I became as a person, but, but, uh, I was, I think like six or seven and, um, Greece. I was obsessed with the Greece movie obviously, and used to play it all the time, but I went and saw production of it in Philadelphia.

[00:08:15] I don’t remember if it was a national tour or if it was at, I think the Walnut street, but, um, Frankie Avalon played the teenager and the movie and Frankie Avalon is a Philadelphia local and hometown hero. Um, so. so. Frankie Avalon played the teenage Joel. And when he came on stage, everyone lost their mind and he got full standing ovation before he even started singing.

[00:08:38] And I had never seen anything like that. And so I turned to my parents and I was like, I want to be him. Um, and yeah, it was like, that’s it, that’s what I want to do. Um, and I was kind of. Stuck from that on. I may, I don’t know who led a six year old make that decision for the rest of his life, but we really stuck to our guns.

[00:08:57] Dane Reis: [00:08:57] Thanks, mom and dad.

[00:08:58] John Battagliese: [00:08:58] Yeah. We really doubled down on that one.

[00:09:02] Dane Reis: [00:09:02] So good. And let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book? That moment?

[00:09:24] John Battagliese: [00:09:24] I love the way you say that. Um, my favorite, uh, you’re actually included in it. It was BAS in Vegas. Um, Um, yeah, that was my first like big job out of college. And I had done some shows.  previously, cause this was the first year I graduated and I had done some regional shows and I was like dying to do a long running show and it just, nothing was panning out.

[00:09:50]And so I went in for another show. I went in for a production of chasing rainbows and didn’t get, it had like an awful, awful audition where I. Crap at the, in the middle of the song and just started laughing. And I was like, we can’t pretend that was good. And they were all lovely and very sweet. And the casting director, um, called me, Jim was like, he’s not getting this, but can he make a tape for Baz?

[00:10:16]Um, for Romeo by tomorrow. So I sent it didn’t hear anything. I was like, okay, it’d be really cool to, like, I started watching videos of the show and I kind of fell in love with it. That’s a good would be really cool to do that. And didn’t think anything of it. Um, a few weeks had gone by and I knew the start date was coming up.

[00:10:32] So I was like, okay, obviously didn’t get it. And I got a call from an agent being like, Hey, you booked a, a summer stock gig at this one theater. And I got excited. I was like, great. That’s something on the horizon. And then he called me 20 minutes later and I thought he was just going over some contract details.

[00:10:48] And he was like, actually, you’re moving to Vegas in three days. And I was like, huh, this took a turn. 

[00:10:56] Um, . And so that’s how that happened. And then, you know, life kind of changed from there and I had a great time doing that and it was very exciting.

[00:11:05] Dane Reis: [00:11:05] so cool. Yeah.   Baz really was a beautiful show to be a part of.

[00:11:10]John Battagliese: [00:11:10] Yeah. Oh my God. It was so cool. And it also, I think, was just a great lesson in how quickly life can change in a moment. Um, and. I really had ruled it out. And I had been so disappointed about not getting that chasing green Bose show. Um, but something I learned later about kind of how all this plays out is that I go to basil, it’s open up this whole other facet of my life in California and Vegas and meet all these amazing people and then go back to New York and audition for Greenfield men, which I did a few times.

[00:11:40] And from that grumpy old men audition, I got an offer to do chasing rainbows. Um, Through that. And so I was like, Oh, I suppose I still got to do the show that I was meant to do, but I had an awesome route to get there and met all these other people in the way. It definitely feels a little like wizard of Oz, Dorothy, going down the yellow brick road.

[00:11:58] Dane Reis: [00:11:58] Yeah, that is so cool though. I love how it all came full circle for you.

[00:12:04]John Battagliese: [00:12:04] Yeah. It’s like, you can’t go straight to us. You have to meet the scarecrow in the line and all the people on the way.

[00:12:09] Dane Reis: [00:12:09] Exactly. That is so cool.  And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s a crazy time, right? We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:12:29]John Battagliese: [00:12:29] Awesome questions. As far as we’re working on right now. Not a whole lot. I’ve kind of used this time to. Like reset. Um, Hm. And it’s been really necessary and wonderful. Um, I’m working on a production of songs for a new world, for like a charity benefit for theater locally here that we’re going to do over, um, zoom and rehearse, and then go in and film separately, which I think will be exciting.

[00:12:56] And. Fun to just flex those muscles again, of performing. But other than that, taking time to reset with the future of the business, I do think for the time being a lot of these more intimate productions will be done. I think like small shows where you can really control who comes in, who comes out, are going to have to be our first baby steps back to normal.


[00:13:22] Dane Reis: [00:13:22] , the, the whole digital revelation of this time is really interesting to me. And I think in a lot of ways it was always an inevitability.

[00:13:32]John Battagliese: [00:13:32] Yes. Yeah,

[00:13:33] Dane Reis: [00:13:33] it certainly has been expedited because of scenario this scenario, right.

[00:13:38]John Battagliese: [00:13:38] yeah. And I think a lot of people. In the coming years, I think a lot of incredible work is going to come from this time where people are having to flex new muscles, whether it’s someone who was an actor who was working, you know, in his week, every week for the past four years, and now has nothing but time on their hands.

[00:13:57] And it’s realizing that they can write or that they have all these other skills. Um, or if it’s make a podcast or do something where they’re. Still using their skills that they’ve honed as a performer, but are having to put them into different avenues. I really think that there’s going to be some great things that come down the line from this very introspective time.

[00:14:18] Dane Reis: [00:14:18] Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And I was actually speaking with a producer on the show the other day, Ben Simpson. And he was saying that one of the things that he’s enjoying is that we said, look, before at this time, everything was so busy. I was, going as fast as I possibly could, but now I have the time to read that script from.

[00:14:40] The unknown play, write or listen to the music of the unknown composer

[00:14:46]John Battagliese: [00:14:46] Yeah. And even as far as auditions go, I’ve noticed that people who weren’t ordinarily going in for some bigger projects or are now being considered because there’s no. Limit on location. You know, everyone is doing things remotely. So you’re able to see someone who may be the perfect fit, but lives in Chicago instead of New York or LA.

[00:15:10]Um, where in a quick casting turnaround, you wouldn’t have had the time to research or look into that. So I think, I think there are going to be some wonderful things that come out of this really. Difficult and strange time their emphasis 

[00:15:26] Dane Reis: [00:15:26] sure. Yes. Very strange. Well, let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. 

[00:15:37] I am going. Yeah. Fitting for you. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:15:50]John Battagliese: [00:15:50] As ready as I’m going to be.

[00:15:51] Dane Reis: [00:15:51] All right. First question. Well, what was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:15:58]John Battagliese: [00:15:58] I don’t think there was one, unfortunately I think the six year old said let’s do it and I followed suit. I never questioned it until I got to be an adult.

[00:16:10] Dane Reis: [00:16:10] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:16:15]John Battagliese: [00:16:15] The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from Brent Wagner at the university of Michigan. Um, and I’m  probably misquote this, but he said, um, never look side to side. You can’t focus on your own path if you are not. Focusing on your herself. Um, and he was like, the second you look side to side, you lose who you are.

[00:16:35] And I think that’s so difficult sometimes to stick to, but it is really helpful as a guide, uh, and compass in this career path.

[00:16:44]Dane Reis: [00:16:44] Yeah, . Because you have to be yourself, right? You have to bring what you bring to the table. You can’t be comparing yourself to other people around you because they’re them and you’re you. And as much as you might think that what they’re bringing to the table is fantastic. You can’t bring it the same way they do.

[00:17:02] So don’t

[00:17:02] John Battagliese: [00:17:02] No. And, and you can’t compare if this person gets this show before you and you are waiting. And when is my time coming, it’s completely different trajectories. They are apples and oranges, and all you can do is be happy and celebrate and. Let it drive you, but never compare yourself to it in that kind of damaging way.

[00:17:25] Dane Reis: [00:17:25] Yeah, wonderful advice. And the third question, what is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:17:39]John Battagliese: [00:17:39] there’s a book that Lauren Graham wrote called in conclusion. Don’t worry about it. And it’s really, really short. I love her. She’s my favorite actress. I’m obsessed with her, but it was basically a high school speech that she had written or, uh, I think so.

[00:17:56] Yeah, it was a graduation speech that she wrote that they expanded and turned into a book and I would read it like once a week, I’d like go to a coffee shop and read it just to kind of center myself and remind myself that. You can’t like in conclusion, don’t worry about it. There’s only so much you can control.

[00:18:15] And it has a lot of helpful hints for everyone, but she talks about things as being an actor in her career that I find super, super helpful and enlightening. So I would say get that book that was kind of like my little Bible for a little bit.

[00:18:29] Dane Reis: [00:18:29] Very cool. I’ve never heard of that. I will definitely have to

[00:18:32] John Battagliese: [00:18:32] Yeah. Yeah. It’s you can read it in 20 minutes. 

[00:18:37] It’s super short.

[00:18:39] Yeah, 

[00:18:40] Dane Reis: [00:18:40] And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:18:53]John Battagliese: [00:18:53] I guess I should have used that for my answer for that. . Um, but the resource that is helping right now is Dax Shepard’s armchair expert.

[00:19:07] Dane Reis: [00:19:07] Oh, such a great podcast.

[00:19:09] John Battagliese: [00:19:09] yeah, I love it so much because it is the perfect gateway. For me right now, not being able to perform. I’m able to hear all these other people, whether they be doctors or basketball players or scientists and hear about their own lives and has just reminded me that there are so many other things.

[00:19:32] And as much as I love performing, I can’t let it be the only defining feature about me. And so I’ve really loved learning about all these different interviews. Visuals and how varied and full their lives are, um, to kind of let it inspire the different colors of what life can be.

[00:19:51]Dane Reis: [00:19:51] right? Yeah. Such a good podcast. And you make, you make so many good points there

[00:19:55]John Battagliese: [00:19:55] someone, when I was looking at colleges, uh, one of the things seniors came up to my parents and I, when we were just walking around campus and I couldn’t tell you her name, I can tell you what she looked like. I’d never saw this girl again. She may have been a ghost, but she like grabbed my parents and was like, do not let. Being an actor, be the only thing that defines your son. And I was kind of offended. And I was like, what did she mean? And as I get older and older, I realize how many things there are that can be explored all of these different facets of life that make us even better performers. Um, if we’re not just hyper focused on being an actor.

[00:20:36]Dane Reis: [00:20:36] Yeah, good point. And the fifth question, if you have to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not to? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:20:54]John Battagliese: [00:20:54] I think I would keep it the same. I would keep it the same. My dad always says something that I’m sure he stole from someone else, but he says, who knows? What’s good and what’s bad. And I think that has been the number one thing I’ve learned as a performer. Um, and I learned it with the bass and chasing rainbows and all how it all kind of wove together you could really want something or think this one thing is going to be the perfect fit for you.

[00:21:21]Um, whether it be the right college or the right show or in anything in life, the right, you know, significant other. Um, but there are. All the other things that you have to go through to get to the end destination. So I think I would keep it the same because the yellow brick road is going well so far. It’s led me to the right people so far.

[00:21:42] Dane Reis: [00:21:42] Yeah, beautiful. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

[00:21:54]John Battagliese: [00:21:54] Work hard and be nice to people.

[00:21:57]Dane Reis: [00:21:57] Oh, so simple. So

[00:22:00] John Battagliese: [00:22:00] Yeah. Just be nice. There’s everyone’s going through so much. And especially right now, I think the only thing we can do is kind of just offer that. 

[00:22:09]Dane Reis: [00:22:09] And to wrap up this interview, John, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:22:21]John Battagliese: [00:22:21] Um, you can find me at Jay bats, B J a Y B a T T S B Y on all social media platforms.  Um, I don’t have anything to promote right now. All I would say is if you’re in the U S be registered to vote, I think that’s pretty much it. I have nothing to plug right now.

[00:22:41]Dane Reis: [00:22:41] It’s a weird time, man. Yourself

[00:22:43] is enough. 

[00:22:44] John Battagliese: [00:22:44] weird time. It’s a very weird time. Just social interactions are hard. I’m like I haven’t had to string together this many sentences and so long. 

[00:22:52] I’m rusty. Very rusty.

[00:22:56] Dane Reis: [00:22:56] Fantastic. And for everyone out there, I have put the links to everything. John just said, in the description of this episode, of this episode, you can easily connect with him. John, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on.

[00:23:11] John Battagliese: [00:23:11] Thank you for having me  I love this. I can’t wait to keep listening to all your episodes. These are such important things to talk about.

[00:23:18]Dane Reis: [00:23:18] Thank you.