EP 139: Blair Farrington (autogenerated)
[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 139.
[00:00:09] Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Blair Farrington. Are you ready for this Blair?
[00:00:18] Blair Farrington: [00:00:18] you know,
you know, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.
[00:00:21] Dane Reis: [00:00:21] Beautiful. Blair is the CEO of Farrington entertainment and productions. And has dedicated his professional life to creating a world class theatrical wonderment for audiences around the world.
[00:00:34] As a producer director, choreographer and entertainment consultant, Blair started his career as a trained dancer actor until. The age of 26, a career ending injury while portraying James Bond on the 1982 Academy awards, telecast forever changed his world. Blair then switched his focused and moved his talents and influence to behind the camera.
[00:00:59] Blair has since produced and directed the live productions of four celebrity residency announcements for Brittany Spears, Mariah Carey, and Gwen Stefani. He’s also directed. And choreographed a Caesar’s 50th anniversary celebration, starring Tony Bennett and Jennifer Lopez. He’s currently directing the piano man at the mosaic theater on the Las Vegas strip
and working and working as a producer, developing musicals Broadway and the West end.
[00:01:26] Blair that is a insanely quick and reduced intro of what you’ve done. I’m telling you everyone, the people that Blair has worked with, the projects that he’s worked on is in saying you just got to look them up, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, filling the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.
[00:01:50]Blair Farrington: [00:01:50]
well, Hey, thank you for having me for starts. I think this is a great thing that you’re bringing to all the entertainers around the world. It’s a very, very. Very very nice. I was born. I was born in New York city. My parents were both professional opera singers in New York and on Broadway, we then moved out to Scottsdale Arizona.
[00:02:09] When I was three years old,
uh, I immediately became addicted to dance. I found some amazing teachers and studied ballet, tap, jazz acting, uh, from the age of six, I performed as a tap dancing paper boy in the musical gypsy, which was my first equity show at 10 years old. , I’ve lived in Las Vegas since 1975 with my wife uni.
[00:02:29] We live in a small ranch. There’s two horses, two dogs, a cat, six koi fish, and a play on his Oh, Andy gecko.
Um, after my, I know we’re crazy as a performer, I opened Farrington productions in the mid eighties. Uh, I produced develop direct sometimes choreograph and write original stage and theatrical productions, music, acts entertainment, attractions, precedents.
[00:02:52] Television and corporate events. I also have a large cost of inventory from all the years of owning a costume designer, manufacturing house, imagination, costume, and then have delivered to clients like Disney bet, Midler, Cher, Broadway clients, and more.
[00:03:06]Dane Reis: [00:03:06] yeah.
[00:03:07] Blair Farrington: [00:03:07] So a
[00:03:08] few things like a couple of big things in Vegas.
Uh, where’s the, um, the show in the sky at the Rio was a $25 million, um, attraction that one Beth live show attraction in the world in 98, I ran for 17 years. So that one was a pretty substantial, uh, piece of business. And I also recently did a video for Celine Dion announcing her world tour courage and her closing ads.
[00:03:32]Dane Reis: [00:03:32] ah, very cool. And so Epic, all those things. And let’s move on to our first section here and Blair, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?
[00:03:48]Blair Farrington: [00:03:48]
well, okay. If it’s probably not an exact quote, but it definitely has the, uh, the meaning of what it is that happened. I, uh, had an acting coach in LA a really, really good one for quite a few years. And he said something that always stuck with me. He said, if you want to be an actor, You need to love the learning and the process of honing your craft.
[00:04:08] Don’t pursue a career if it’s only about booking jobs and making money, it sounds very counterintuitive, but it really applies to all areas of performance dancers, singers,
you know, anybody that’s out there in the creative arts.
[00:04:24]Dane Reis: [00:04:24] , for sure, because you will burn yourself out so fast if you’re just going for the line on the resume.
[00:04:32]Blair Farrington: [00:04:32] it’s so true. It is so true.
Um, you know, that quote has really rung true for me and was what I would say a healthier way to manage my intention and day to day activities, um, as an artist, as a young artist. Um, and like I said, it applies to all the performing arts dancing, singing musicianship. Writing. Um, so I understood that being dead.
[00:04:51] It’s a class,
uh, workshops, um, You know, and just loving that, loving that process. you know, Uh, you know, if I booked a gig, I always looked at death like, that’s great, but it was like icing on the cake. I was addicted to really, as a dancer to going to class. And so that’s how I really got my. My feedback and really felt so fulfilled from just dancing every day.
Um, you know, so acting in the performing arts is a very challenging profession to sustain. And so the quote really helped me, um, be grounded. It’s provided a level of control in my life. Um, you can always choose to study and go to class, but getting a booking and getting the next gig through auditions is really up to fate.
[00:05:33] And you just don’t know.
Um, now there’s a course with the financial implication of, you know, how do I pay my rent, but that’s a whole different conversation.
[00:05:43] Dane Reis: [00:05:43] Yeah, absolutely. I’m so glad that you brought that up. you said it gave you control over your life. And I think that is so pertinent in that concept. That idea has come up multiple times with other guests that have been on the show in that saying, look, you need to control the things you can control because that’s where the joy is.
[00:06:07] But also. that’s, where your focus should be, because there’s nothing you can do about booking that gig.
It’s It’s it’s just another piece of the puzzle.
[00:06:18] Blair Farrington: [00:06:18] Absolutely. And even if you’re going to go season an audition all day,
you, you never know which jobs you’re going to get and you’re not going to get. And, you know, I just found out early on that if you, if you’re really focused on the process and the passion for that, that will get you through.
[00:06:33]Dane Reis: [00:06:33] absolutely so great. Once again for you to say that and to just reiterate from so many wonderful people that have also been on the show, and I think that’s also A big reason why this podcast has become so important for entertainers and aspiring entertainment professionals, because we’re hearing, uh,
uh, Ken and again, and again, and again, these consistent things that keep coming up, and those are the things that we need to start paying attention to.
[00:06:57] And that’s what you can do really start taking away and applying to your career immediately. Yes. And let’s get into this next section here. And Blair, of course you are an entertainment professional, I’m an entertainment professional. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries in existence.
[00:07:22] And you know,
you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like your having now takes a lot. Of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do there are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, failures that we are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through.
[00:07:46] 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.
[00:07:56]Blair Farrington: [00:07:56]
well, I’ve had many challenges, obstacles and failures. You know, you haven’t been in the business as long without having all that stuff. But I would say, I would say the one thing that really stands out to me is when I was 26 years old at the height of my dance career, I. I was playing. I got cast as James Bond on the Academy awards in 1982 opposite scene, Sheena, Easton, who sang for your eyes only.
[00:08:18] And at
the height of the height of my career, um, I actually was injured in separate three of your four cruciate ligaments, and football. They called it a triple triad. So my doctors and surgeons gave me a very negative prognosis. When I came out of surgery, they told my wife that I would never dance again and probably need to walk with a cane the rest of my life.
[00:08:39] So it actually made me angry and I decided to use that as fuel to show them that I was going to come back as a professional dancer. So it forced me to stop too. Do some major soul searching,
um, to look at myself and understand that I, I might not ever dance again. My entire identity was wrapped up, get to answer.
[00:09:01] And if the answers,
you know, the ones that are dedicated, totally relate to that. Um, I did 18 months of intense and painful physical therapy, but the mental anguish I faced with dance being taken away from me was really the most devastating.
[00:09:15] I felt
I felt like my entire identity had been wiped clean. So I had physical therapists in LA and in Vegas and I traveled back and forth.
[00:09:23] Once I completed my physical therapy, I did make it back to performing professionally, but it was like Groundhog’s day at every job. I’d find myself dancing on the, Emmy’s doing a kick line when that horrible pain would hit my knee and I’d be, Oh boy, am I going to make it through this number? Then after the show, I see my knee in the dressing room and I came to the realization then that I was probably not going to be dancing at the same level as I had pre-injury.
[00:09:51]So I had too much respect for the art of dance. That coming back at anything less than a hundred percent for me was not acceptable. So during my two year recovery, I dove into the acting and,
you know, had a high caliber acting coach, which gave me that quote at a black box theater in LA and working with all.
[00:10:09] Working stage TV and film actors. It was very intimidating, but it was a huge period of immense growth as an actor and as a director. So during this pathetic process, I ended up taking the negative aspects of it, my injury, and turning it into an energy that gave me positivity and show me a way of going behind the camera and finding a new creative journey.
[00:10:35] So I opened pharynx and productions and never looked back.
[00:10:39]Dane Reis: [00:10:39] Ah, such a good journey and it’s so great that you’ve, you created something so wonderful and so impactful for this industry through, you know,
you know, if it wasn’t for that injury, I can imagine the production company would have never really taken off and
[00:10:55] being what it is today.
[00:10:56] Blair Farrington: [00:10:56] it wouldn’t. I would have still been out there trying to,
you know, get every job and, you know, doing what you love, which was. Studying and working. So absolutely it wouldn’t have, it wouldn’t have happened so much later if it was going to happen.
[00:11:08]Dane Reis: [00:11:08] Yeah, 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 a living or maybe it was, yes. This is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that.
Um, the spotlight moment was when I was 21, I got booked to do a TV special playing John Travolta from the Saturday night film, Saturday night fever, which had just come out just to tell you how old I am. Yeah. And I partnered, I partnered, I partnered share in a disco number that we shot in Culver city on the, gone with the wind soundstage.
I was, I was like, I stepped back and said, wow, this is like so overwhelming, but so exciting. I knew then that this business is where I belong. The other,
The other, the other ones after my performing career, everything became crystal clear. So I designed and rendered a new multi-use venue concept for a high tech theater in the round at the Rio hotel, the owner architect proved and turned my rendering into an architectural reality.
[00:12:23] At the same time, I was tasked with creating an interactive new musical experience that would. Opened the venue. And it turned out to be the award winning Copacabana dinner show that transformed into club Rio. After that the first inhouse casino nightclub that started the wave of nightclubs in Las Vegas, all the stars aligned.
[00:12:43] And it was one of the most fulfilling and personally rewarding projects in my career.
Um, it was an exciting expansion of kind of new business and new design capabilities.
[00:12:53]Dane Reis: [00:12:53] Oh, that’s so cool. And how fortunate as well? That you had a team of people that were like, yeah. Saw the vision and were like, yeah, we’re on board with this. Let’s do this.
[00:13:04] Blair Farrington: [00:13:04] Yeah. And you know,
you know, it’s funny as I was going through the process, I thought blur, this is probably never going to happen again. You know, that you’re actually in the middle of like the theater getting built and. Designing a custom show for the theater. It just doesn’t work like that. You know, it’s just, so I was, I knew I was fortunate and it just happened that that’s really one of the, my fondest shows I’ve ever done as well.
[00:13:24]Dane Reis: [00:13:24] , so cool. And let’s piggyback on that question 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 or what was going on in your life. And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite
[00:13:46] Blair Farrington: [00:13:46] Kind of a strange one, but two years into my recovery from my knee surgery.
Um, I auditioned for a, the Broadway show, uh, cats that was actually, um, auditioning in Los Angeles. I’d always wanted to do this show as the choreography, my technical belly and modern training. So it was a very hot, yeah. And smoggy July day in LA and a grueling 10 hour additions at the Masonic Masonic temple on Hollywood Boulevard, it was a cattle call of over 800 people.
[00:14:16] And the cuts continued all day and the group kept getting smaller and smaller. So the choreography routines for the males were very challenging and extremely physical. I made it through all the cutbacks and then this singing a Gillian Lynne, who is the original choreographer, kept me. And she kept calling me back to dance
over and over and over.
[00:14:38] And then she brings me back to sing over and over. So I worked at physically to my absolute limits. She then called me over to the table and said, she’d like to offer me the role of either Macavity or Alonzo. At this point, my knee was swollen, throbbing and feeling very unstable. It was,
It was, it was a dream to be offered a role production, but I ended up turning it down.
[00:15:02] I explained my condition. And told ms. Lynn, I was flattered and excited to do the show, but my knee would never make it through rehearsals. Anyway, it was a bittersweet moment that I will never forget, but I proved to myself that I could do it. And it was smart enough to not go down that path.
[00:15:20]Dane Reis: [00:15:20] , such a great story. And so many lessons to be learned as well. Thank you for sharing that.
[00:15:25] Blair Farrington: [00:15:25] no. Yeah,
it was, it was, that was a big moment for me,
[00:15:28]Dane Reis: [00:15:28] Yeah, absolutely. 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 weird time, right? We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:15:48]Blair Farrington: [00:15:48] Yeah. So, you know,
So, you know, like everybody, yeah, it’s been very strange. Um, I have been working on a number of things during this crazy period. So I, I just finished directing and choreographing a new show called the piano man at the mosaic theater on the strip. It’s this beautiful little theater that they put a lot of, a lot of work into a lot of time and love and passion.
[00:16:10] It’s the music of Billy Joel and Elton John.
Um, starring Kyle Martin, who’s like an amazing talent. Uh, so we just opened a matter of fact, October 8th, the first it’s the first venue to open on the strip, along with two other shows there, the Queens of rock and Ozzy heat. So that’s been a really big deal.
[00:16:30] And I’m telling you we’ve. We’ve been like waiting and waiting for the governor to make new guidelines that were going to enable us to actually do a show. And we’re lucky in that venue that we can do the new 25 feet distance from the stage to the first audience. And then there has to be six feet between all the tables.
So. You know, there’s a second level. We’ve been able to pull that off. We can. I think we can see like one 25 max and, you know, it’s a small show. So once again, it’s not a big, huge production, although it’s all live musicians and a couple of dancers and you know, just a lot, a lot of talent and great music.
[00:17:09]Dane Reis: [00:17:09] very cool. And the mosaic theater, where is that? On the strip? So people can go check it out.
[00:17:15] Blair Farrington: [00:17:15] Yeah, it’s just North of the MGM and actually even just North of planet Hollywood, the,
um, restaurant. Um, and it’s just like down a little alley right off the strip, but it’s a little Juul and I, I’m just very happy that it, to me, it’s like a little bit of light just crack through the door. And I’m hoping that, you know, more of this is able to spill out into the, uh, of Vegas and the entertainment community.
[00:17:40]So I’m also, I’ve been in rewriting and I’m going to be directing a new show called a mob story. It’s about a former Los Vegas mob boss, Michael France, hazy, and that’s scheduled to open in 2021. So that’s
kind of exciting. And I’m also developing a few other little Vegas projects that, you know, we’ll see if they happen or not, but.
[00:18:01] I am keeping busy, so
that, that part has been good. And I’ve been working with a digital media company out of Chicago. developing some potential music, events and concerts using new digital technologies. This would be for like live virtual and streaming virtual events and concerts. There’s just a lot going on in that.
[00:18:21] It’s a wild, new frontier.
Um, So, uh, you know, it’s, um, it’s been different, you know, and, and I’m not necessarily the most tech savvy guy, but people like me just have to understand and learn how to use that stuff in ways that help support production, you know? you know?
[00:18:37] and then I’m also, and this has been
kind of a thing that’s been going on for a couple of years.
[00:18:40] I’m. I’m acting as a producer on trying to get a few, believe it or not Broadway and West end shows up. And
[00:18:48] Dane Reis: [00:18:48] Oh,
[00:18:49] Blair Farrington: [00:18:49] all based on biographies names like James Dean, Mozart, Betty Page, and the Nicholas brothers. once again, I’m just praying for Broadway too, that
[00:19:01] Dane Reis: [00:19:01] Yeah, absolutely. And with The piano man show at the mosaic, are you, so you’ve obviously had to restructure the entire space and because it’s very unique, right? You have to have the certain guidelines and how many people you can be in the room. Do you see that trend happening? Not just because of out of necessity, but you see the trend of the smaller intimate show
[00:19:26] Blair Farrington: [00:19:26]
You know, I do actually. Um, I really think that we’re in a major period of transition and entertainment of which no one really has all the answers, but one once we’re past this covert crisis, It’s like the flip, the switch is not going to flip on and everything goes back to normal. So I do think smaller, less expensive shows are likely depending on how successful these vaccines are.
[00:19:51] There may be a lot of renegotiating that comes down between all the financial variabilities with artists, unions, producers, promoters, venues,
you know, everything that costs something. I personally think there’s going to be some adjusting. That’s going to have to go on there. Um, however I am hopeful that we are resilient and will be resilient and forge ahead, we will find solutions and .
[00:20:18] Dane Reis: [00:20:18] Wonderful. Thank you for that insight. And it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. 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?
[00:20:40] First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?
[00:20:47] Blair Farrington: [00:20:47] I have to say really
nothing, nothing held me back. I committed early to wanting to do this as a career. And
[00:20:53] Dane Reis: [00:20:53] brilliant. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:21:02]Blair Farrington: [00:21:02]
well, um, I of course used to see Margaret’s show a lot. I worked with Juliet Prowse and back in those days, Shirley McClain and those folks, they all, it was kind of a small close knit family. And Ann Margaret looked at me in eye as once told me don’t ever give up. And it’s just those little words where you’re like, Oh, okay.
You know, and you look at someone like her who have done everything, but, you know, you know, Even people who’ve made it. You don’t know what they’ve gone through to get there. And I think that, that, you know, that ability to just, you know, step back up and brush yourself off and, you know, keep going, figure it out. So
[00:21:35]those words meant something to me.
something to me.
[00:21:37] Dane Reis: [00:21:37] yeah. What does that other quote, they say an overnight success takes years or something like that takes decades. It’s yeah. It’s. When everything begins to hit you go, man. There was a giant journey behind all of that
that that just usually never gets talked about.
[00:21:53] yeah, And the third question, what is something that is working for you right now?
[00:22:00] Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.
[00:22:06]Blair Farrington: [00:22:06] I would say that for me, dealing with a handful of. Talented artists and entertainment industry suppliers that are dedicated to push through this rather dark period and keep the passion for the business going, even when it looks bleak and feels dark.
[00:22:24] Dane Reis: [00:22:24]
[00:22:24] Great. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or piece of technology you’ve found is helping your career right now.
[00:22:38]Blair Farrington: [00:22:38] No for me, it’s certainly not just one thing.
It’s, it’s definitely kind of kind of an organic situation, but I would say, um, connecting with people on the internet sometimes on zoom conferences. Private messengers, cell phones, um, you know, the usual suspects, um, there are technological advancements with digital technology that will become more integrated into my career life as I move forward.
[00:23:02] Dane Reis: [00:23:02] Yeah, cool, man. We, this whole process of the whole experience of COVID has really expedited the use of technology. It’s always been there. We’ve always had a lot of these platforms around,
right. But we rely on them so heavily now, and it really has expedited its integration into our lives and into this industry.
[00:23:23]Blair Farrington: [00:23:23] Absolutely.
[00:23:25] Dane Reis: [00:23:25] And the fifth question, if you had 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 do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?
[00:23:40]Blair Farrington: [00:23:40] I would say that I would follow my passion and creative interests. As I have, but I would slow down at times and make perhaps a better strategic business and hiring decisions along the way.
Um, so that’s kind of a broad answer, but those are
[00:23:59] Dane Reis: [00:23:59] Yeah. 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.
[00:24:10]Blair Farrington: [00:24:10] I would say pursue your passion. Follow your dreams as an artist, but understand that this is not always a fair business. And if what you’re looking for is a stable, financial insecure life. This may not be the career path for you to choose, but even if someone had told me this, it wouldn’t have stopped me from following the passion and the destiny.
[00:24:32] So yeah, it really truly is about, finding things that you love and doing them. and that’s, I think what separates us. From a lot of people out there in the world that never have liked what they do. And they spend so much time doing it.
[00:24:48] Dane Reis: [00:24:48] yeah. Could not agree more. I have a lot of friends, a lot of people that I know that I grew up with. I’m not that old, but I tell you what they look. Substantially older than I do. And we’re the same age, you know what I mean?
you know what I mean? Because life has just been unenjoyable and isn’t there. There’s not a lot of passion for what they do in their day to
[00:25:11] day. And I think that really
[00:25:15]Blair Farrington: [00:25:15] Yeah. Like I have, I know a lot of people, friends of mine who studied to be lawyers, MSC became a lawyer. They’re like,
uh, I don’t like this. I don’t want to do this the rest of my life. you know, they studied, they did their thing. Maybe that stuff, that, that knowledge is helping them in some other area.
[00:25:27] But. Yeah, it’s just,
um, it’s hard, but you just, I think that really children too, from a young age should start getting connected more to things that they really like doing. Um, I just think that’s very important
[00:25:41]Dane Reis: [00:25:41] , a hundred percent agree. And to wrap up this interview, Blair, 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?
[00:25:56]Blair Farrington: [00:25:56]
Well, really right now, I would say, go see the shows at the mosaic. Um, the shows are, uh, Queens of rocker at seven. Um, the other shows are at eight 30, which is piano man and Ozzy heats at 10. And they are at this point running Thursday through Sunday. Um, and they should just go to mosaic on the strip.com.
[00:26:16]And you can buy tickets online.
[00:26:18]So I would say, that’s you? Yeah, that’s the thing right now. We just all need to try to support one another in those ways and whatever ways we can ,
uh, and just, you know, Like show the world that we can come back and we can come back safely. No, we’re not. We’re not trying to do things to, you know, make this, obviously this disease worse.
[00:26:36] We want this disease to go away, but I feel like we’ve needed to find that place where we can coexist with this problem and still the productive, maybe with compromises, but still be productive in what we do.
[00:26:50] Dane Reis: [00:26:50] Alrighty. And for everyone listening out there, I have put all the links to everything Blair just said, in the description of this episode, you can easily check out all those shows at the mosaic. And also be sure to share
this, this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, or the new one, you know, you know, aspiring to create a career in this industry.
[00:27:18] This podcast truly has become an integral part of helping them succeed through their journey in this career. And if you enjoyed this episode, Hey, be sure to hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss tomorrow’s Thank you. So much
[00:27:34] for being here,
[00:27:34] Blair Farrington: [00:27:34] thank you. I have to say congratulations, Dane, and really you’re doing a wonderful thing. I’m so glad you found this and you’re really kicking butt. So congrats on that.
[00:27:44]Dane Reis: [00:27:44] Oh, thank you. That really means so much. Thank you.
[00:27:48] Blair Farrington: [00:27:48] it.