David Christensen

EP 16: David Christensen


Episode Transcript (autogenerated)

Dane: [00:00:00] You booked it. Episode is 16. Hey, entertainers and performers of the world. I’m your host, Dane Reis, and welcome to you. Booked it. Where I chat with inspiring entertainers, seven days a week by digging into their journey. We’re going to discover everything you need to do to be a successful entertainer, you know?

[00:00:25] Cause. Training, usually skips that part about how to actually make your skills work for you in the real world. Fellow entertainers, my drive here at you booked it is to share the inspiring and incredible journeys of successful entertainers. We are here to support your journey. So go to youbookeditpodcast.com and join the, you booked it, email community, where we dig deep into truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you book that next audition, submission or gig.

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[00:01:22] Let’s do this. All righty. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Dave Christiansen, are you ready for this, Dave? 

[00:01:34] David: [00:01:34] I think so. Brilliant 

[00:01:37] Dane: [00:01:37] a graduate of the Boston conservatory at Berkeley and a member of the BMI advanced musical theater writing workshop Dave’s work has been featured at Joe’s pub, the Laurie Beechman and 54 below among others.

[00:01:54] His musical cookies was featured in the New York musical festival with director Jeff Whiting. He wrote the score along with Luke Holloway, to Santa Claus, the musical, which was commissioned by and premiered at Casa manana and has been featured in theaters around the country, including the children’s theater of Cincinnati, his most recent show just between the all of us have written with Kellen Blair and Sarah Ziegler Blair was featured as part of the Pittsburgh CLRs new musicals festival in April of 2018.

[00:02:27] And we’ll be part of Bloomington playwrights projects, 2020 slash 2021 season. Dave, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, filling the gaps, who you are, where you’re from, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

[00:02:52] David: [00:02:52] Absolutely. I am David Christensen, Dave Christensen it to, my, my close people like Dane. and I’m a musical theater, slash theater. So I sketch writer, I’m from a small town in Connecticut with lots of cows. And, my neighbor is, the mayor and also the barber at the town. I lived in NYC for about nine years and then last year, moved back to Connecticut to save money and be closer to my family.

[00:03:15]and this is something I would say to all my, my writers, aspiring writers out there. You do not need to live in NYC. you can live somewhere around in the, outside area where it’s cheaper and commute in, and I promise you, you will like life a lot better. as a writer, I create shows with my collaborators.

[00:03:31] Sometimes I do music, sometimes lyrics, sometimes book, and sometimes all three, I’ll write something with my writing partners that we think theaters wants to produce, and we try to get it in front of them. Yeah. Sometimes we’re successful and sometimes we’re not, 

[00:03:45]Dane: [00:03:45] that’s just the way. Yeah, 

[00:03:48] David: [00:03:48] that is a, that is my, my, my 

[00:03:50] Dane: [00:03:50] life in a nutshell.

[00:03:51] Wonderful. Well, let’s move to the next section here and. Look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote that you’d like to share with our listeners? 

[00:04:03]David: [00:04:03] well, you know, I, I was thinking about this and in terms of quotes, I have more of just like a, a mantra, which is, just, just keep going.

[00:04:12] And I know it’s something you might see on like a throw pillow or a coffee mug, but, it really is, true in the sense that. You know, this is not really a naive thought that you’re gonna get everything you want, but if you have something that makes you happy, continue to pursue it. and in terms of the theater, which is, an entertainment industry, which is what we’re talking about here today, you know, it’s a very unstable business and we know that.

[00:04:36] And, so when you are doubting yourself or you’re like, Oh, I’m not sure what to do. Just keep going because you never, no, things change very quickly. Things change very quickly in this industry. And as long as you’re there, you can always have your aha moment. 

[00:04:53] Dane: [00:04:53] Yeah, absolutely. And I found that my career, for instance, my experience is that it’s when it comes to just keep going, it reminds me of like finding Nemo, right?

[00:05:03] Yeah. Just keep swimming, but a little bit different. And, is that. You that’s where you get a lot of the richness and the fun stuff out of this career and out of this journey, because you never, if you just keep moving forward and saying, yes, that’s when all the fun stuff really shows up, not the stuff that you’ve.

[00:05:20] Thought about and designed and contrived inside of your brain. It’s, what’s happening real right in front of you right now and see where that journey takes you. 

[00:05:29] David: [00:05:29] Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, that’s when you have the most spontaneous moments in your life, and those are the most creative, when you are, when you’re going through this industry, especially in terms of a writing or a creative aspect, you know, you have that energy of, Oh boy, here we go.

[00:05:46] And you come up with. With something great most of the time. 

[00:05:51] Dane: [00:05:51] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Sometimes it falls flat, but yeah, but that’s, that’s the nature of doing creative things and I love it. Well, let’s get into this next section now. And Dave, of course you are a professional in the entertainment industry.

[00:06:08] I am also a professional, the entertainment industry, and I think that you’d agree. That this industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries, either of us know about. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and to have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot of dedication and hard work.

[00:06:32] And while of course, yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and fulfillment. Excitement. There are also our fair share of obstacles and challenges and failures. We are going to have to experience inevitably, and we’re going to have to move forward through them. If we want to continue doing this passion of ours.

[00:06:50] 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. Well, 

[00:07:02] David: [00:07:02] one major one, which was a major turning point in my life was, we had talked about this, earlier today was how I was in college. and, with you, we had both gone to the Boston conservatory and, I had go on for performance and that was what I was.

[00:07:19] Oh, going forward in terms of a track. And that’s what I was thinking about in terms of my life, where I was going to move, how I was lining up everything in my life to lead in that direction. And, I found that I just had, I couldn’t sing, anymore. And it turned out that I had a gluten allergy, which was affecting my voice, but that was not a thing yet.

[00:07:37]and so I just kind of was very, very depressed and I thought, well, there it goes. You know, my, my one chance at, at, At college, what am I going to do now? And so. I took a, I’d always be interested in writing, be it just music or theater. And so I took a class at Berkeley college of music before our two schools had joined and it was a musical theater writing class.

[00:08:02] And I found that I really, I liked it a lot and I was motivated to, to do the assignments and just to create it wasn’t like work for me. It was just fun. And so I made this switch, basically in my senior year of college, which is into a writing a theater writing. As opposed to theater performance.

[00:08:23] And it was actually, you know, it went from very, very, bad one at one point, of not being able to perform anymore to very, very good, because I realized that performance was not really where my heart was in the first place. It was really with creating and with writing. And so, you know, life takes these circuitous paths and.

[00:08:44] This is a really good example of, of how I just kind of ended up where I was, which was, this was the moment that, that things kind of kind of turn, and, and got me on this path. 

[00:08:56] Dane: [00:08:56] I love that. And I think it’s so important for everyone listening that this industry is so big, so diverse and broad that. You can do so many different things that are still outrageously fulfilling, maybe even more fulfilling, like in your case that you discovered than what you initially thought you wanted to do, or what you had planned in your head.

[00:09:20] And I love that there are so many fantastic journeys and ways that us as entertainers us as artists, us as professionals in this industry can go. And it’s one of those things that when you’re in school, when you’re in some kind of a training program, Most likely you’re not going to even get exposed to these different aspects of the industry.

[00:09:40] And it’s not really until you start being a professional that you really even discover a lot of these things exist. 

[00:09:46] David: [00:09:46] Absolutely. And, you know, you don’t, because you’re in a, if you’re in a conservatory program, like we were, 

[00:09:52] Dane: [00:09:52] you don’t 

[00:09:52] David: [00:09:52] get a wide variety of, of, you know, exposure to other aspects. It’s basically like performances, what you’re doing.

[00:10:00]and even in a lot of theater programs, cause I’m a teacher now and my students are applying for college and I look with them and a lot of programs, even at universities and colleges are very conservative, you know, our conservatory style. And so. You don’t have that, that exposure, to kind of broaden your horizons to what else is out there, especially within your industry.

[00:10:21] And so it’s okay. And this is, you know, so important for, for people who are, just starting out it’s okay to change your path. You know, it feels like this is the end, you know, when you’re, when you’re, what was I like 21, 22, I was like, no, this is it. and so you look back and you’re like, you know, not at all, you, you can change your path, you can change your path multiple times.

[00:10:43]and it’s good to just keep an open mind, cause you don’t know what is going to appeal to you as 

[00:10:49] Dane: [00:10:49] you mature. Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s move on to this next section now to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to work as a professional in the entertainment industry, or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in this industry.

[00:11:13] Tell us about that. 

[00:11:14] David: [00:11:14] What led me to realize this is what I wanted to do was, the first time I had a show of mine in front of a live audience, that, that final component, which is the energy and interplay that happens between the audience and the performers is just incredible. And you feel it as a performer when you’re up on stage, but then also.

[00:11:34] As a writer, when it’s something you’ve written and something you’ve created, and there is this, response from the audience that is enthusiastic and the energy is going back and forth and it’s enhancing the show, it’s just such a great feeling. as long as it goes the way you want it to, sometimes it doesn’t of course, most of the times it’s 

[00:11:52] Dane: [00:11:52] yeah, I can, I’ve never written any shows, but I can only imagine.

[00:11:55] I mean, I know what it’s like to be a performer performing. Different works and that feeling, but too, to have been the person that created the, the foundation of all of that, I can’t even imagine what that, that experience is like, but it must be so fulfilling. 

[00:12:13] David: [00:12:13] It is it’s, it’s incredible. And it makes you want to just, you know, you leave there and you’re like, I got to write like 10 more things now, like all these ideas, it’s, it’s truly so much fun.

[00:12:23] And, and to see people laughing and, and responding and, and enjoying something that you’ve you’ve written is very fulfilling. I 

[00:12:33] Dane: [00:12:33] love that. Well, let’s piggyback on that question a little bit, and let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions callbacks, or anything that might have been a part of that.

[00:12:46] What was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment. 

[00:12:54] David: [00:12:54] I like, I like that, that a book that, first, the, the, my number one book moment, I would say, is, is w difficult when you’re a writer, you don’t have, you don’t have something that is specifically that like one book that like you do as a performer when you are auditioning for different people for productions, but there is, One moment that I felt was, was really significant.

[00:13:18] And it was when I really got my first commission as a writer. So, you know, I loved writing, but I figured I would just do it for me or with small projects where I was the one paying people to do it. Right. but, to get paid, to write for a theater was a very pleasant surprise. one of my friends had been approached.

[00:13:39]but she was too busy. And so she trusted me and recommended me. Thanks, Kate. and they liked my stuff and then hired me. And so going from that, that kind of, you know, I’m doing these small, these small things. I’m just writing individual songs here and there, but I’m going to be, you know, I was bartending at the time, in terms of what was going on in my life.

[00:14:00] I was bartending. I was the bar manager of, mama Mia. On Broadway, which is not as glamorous as it sounds, but, I can tell you, I can now tell you the exact time when all the numbers happen in a production of mamma Mia. So if you need to know that, give me a call. but it was, I was, I was bartending.

[00:14:20] I was starting to get into teaching more and 

[00:14:23] Dane: [00:14:23] I 

[00:14:23] David: [00:14:23] got this commission to write and I felt well, that, that is now. I feel like I am a. I can call myself a writer cause like I’m somebody who’s paying me, you know, some money to actually create a full production, a full show. And it’s still going today.

[00:14:39] That’s the Santa Claus, the musical, show that’s a children’s theater, show that, for, for children’s to holiday show, that is, still, still making its way around. 

[00:14:49] Dane: [00:14:49] That’s fantastic. I can only imagine what that felt like that validation of you’re like, yes, it’s real now. 

[00:14:55] David: [00:14:55] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:14:59] That’s exactly what it was. It was, it was kinda like, Oh, it is it’s real all. I, I thought I was just kinda, you know, be the, just writing on the side for the rest of my life, but Oh, this was really cool. and it was inspiring and it made me work harder and, I, I, I very much appreciated that, that 

[00:15:17] Dane: [00:15:17] moment.

[00:15:18] Wonderful. Well, let’s talk about the present for a moment. What projects are you currently working on? What are you looking forward to? And of course we are amidst this crazy global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years? 

[00:15:36]David: [00:15:36] so currently, what I’m working on is what you had mentioned in the intro, which is, it’s a, just between the, all of us, with my writers, Sarah Z quibbler and Kellen Blair.

[00:15:47] And that is a choose your own adventure musical, where the, audience. Decides the path for the main character throughout the 

[00:15:53] Dane: [00:15:53] show. 

[00:15:54]David: [00:15:54] so that will hopefully cope. It willing have a premiere in April of 2021. And, the a have, so many, you know, as, you know, being an entertainer, ringing the entertainment industry, you have to have as many irons in the fire as you can.

[00:16:08]and so I’ve got. Lots of other stuff at various stages of development. one that’s almost done as a, a Christmas comedy for mature audiences, which I, had been asked for. again, this is, something that happened from. You know, another theater that I was paid to try to show for. they liked my stuff and then they asked me, Hey, do you have anything that would be for like adults for Christmas, you know, for a Christmas show?

[00:16:32]not anything like, like, you know, a Christmas Carol. and I said, yeah, I had this idea. And so I started developing it. And so that’s almost done. I’ve got some plays, some sketches and, everything is, moving forward. You know, as fast as you can. 

[00:16:47] Dane: [00:16:47] Of course. Yep. Great. And. Let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview.

[00:16:55] 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. Boom, boom, boom one after another. Are you ready? 

[00:17:08] David: [00:17:08] I am. Great. 

[00:17:10] Dane: [00:17:10] First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry?

[00:17:17] David: [00:17:17] The thought that I had to only support myself through writing or performing, I will, I have a primary job for the rest of my life and I enjoy it and that’s 

[00:17:24] Dane: [00:17:24] okay with me. Great. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

[00:17:31] David: [00:17:31] Never stop learning. 

[00:17:33] Dane: [00:17:33] Love that third question. What is something that is working for you now, or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on?

[00:17:44] Pause 

[00:17:45] David: [00:17:45] both pre and post COVID zoom. 

[00:17:48] Dane: [00:17:48] Yep. That’s great. We’re recording this on zoom. Fourth question. What is the best resource? Whether that’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe it’s a podcast or a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now. 

[00:18:05] David: [00:18:05] Why it’s the, you booked it podcast with Dane Reese.

[00:18:13]and if you are looking for some companion piece, while you’re listening, it’s also the seven habits of highly successful people. I have found as a very, very useful book. 

[00:18:22] Dane: [00:18:22] That is a really, really great book.  recommend to everybody. Fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected through your career in this industry, what would you do or not do?

[00:18:39] Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same? 

[00:18:43] David: [00:18:43] I would say, realize that you have a lot of time and that you don’t need to rush into anything with which you are uncomfortable or not passionate. 

[00:18:51] Dane: [00:18:51] That’s massive. I love that. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?

[00:19:05] David: [00:19:05] Don’t be afraid to leap before you look. 

[00:19:08] Dane: [00:19:08] Great. Yeah, you can’t have all your ducks in a row. Can you? Cause no, if you’re waiting for that, you’ll never do anything. 

[00:19:13] David: [00:19:13] Ducks are notoriously difficult to get in 

[00:19:15] Dane: [00:19:15] a row. Agreed. Unless they’re crossing a road. They’re pretty good at that. This is true. This is true.

[00:19:21] But the road of life. All right. And to wrap up this interview, Dave, 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? 

[00:19:35] David: [00:19:35] I will say, my children’s Christmas show, Santa Claus, a musical. it has a website, Santa Claus, the musical.com all one word.

[00:19:42]if you are a theater director or producer who was looking for some family friendly holiday programming with fully orchestrated attracts, you can go there and check out some of the material. Other than that. Most of my time when I’m not working is spent reading and writing, which I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

[00:19:57] Dane: [00:19:57] Okay. I love it. Dave, thank you so much for joining me today. It has been really great to have you here, 

[00:20:06] David: [00:20:06] Dan. Thank you so much. 

[00:20:08] Dane: [00:20:08] Thank you so much for joining us today. My one call to action for you is to go to youbookeditpodcast.com and join our free email community. Where we dig deep into a continually growing resource of truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you advance your entertainment career.

[00:20:29] Don’t miss an episode. We have a new guest, seven days a week search for you, booked it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app and subscribe today. All the best to you. We’ll see you tomorrow.