EP 22: Rachel Bertone
Episode Transcript (autogenerated)
Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it. Episode 22, 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. Oh right. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Rachel Burton, are you ready for this? Rachel.
[00:01:36] Rachel is an award winning director slash choreographer and a professor of theater and dance. She has staged over 50 musicals in the Boston theater scene alone, including a cabaret which won an Ernie award for best direction. Choreography and best musical carousel, which also won an Ernie award for best choreography in the Heights, which won an Ernie award for best musical, the wild party, which won an Ernie award for best musical as well.
[00:02:06] Gypsy. Kiss of the spider woman, Billy Elliot little shop of horrors, showboat hair, Barnum, West side story, and guys and dolls. Rachel is passionate about education, enriching the lives of young performers and amplifying female identifying voices. She has taught at numerous prestigious institutions, including the Boston conservatory at Berkeley, the American repertory theater Institute at Harvard university.
[00:02:34] Emerson college and long Island university posts. You privately coaches, performers, both in New York city where she’s currently residing and Boston. She proudly holds a BFA from the Boston conservatory. Rachel, that is a, a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done. But yeah. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps, if you will, about who you are and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry,
[00:03:03] Rachel Bertone: [00:03:03] for sure.
[00:03:04] Dane, first of all, thank you so much for having me today. Thank you originally from Malden, Massachusetts, which is just outside Boston, mass. I did. However, just moved to New York, Washington Heights to be exact a few months ago, I moved to further pursue and expand my directorial and choreographic career.
[00:03:28] And create new artistic collaborations here. I am now teaching musical theater at long Island university posts, as you mentioned, and continuing to run my own business, which I’ve had for a number of years now, and that involves a variety of musical theater classes, workshops that I teach on a daily basis.
[00:03:47] Currently it’s all online students COVID-19 but I still teach an author, various classes every single day. So. Waiting for our industry to open back up again and hopefully be ready to launch right back in when we, when we take off. All
[00:04:07] Dane Reis: [00:04:07] right, let’s move to this next section here. And Rachel, I am a sucker for a good quote.
[00:04:12] What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with our listeners?
[00:04:16] Rachel Bertone: [00:04:16] Oh, I have to, can I share two or just one? Okay. So my first one is, A personal mantra. That’s inspired by Bernay Brown, which is stand in your own strength. And my other one is from the Alchemist written by Apollo Quillo, which is so good.
[00:04:38] I love all of his books. it says when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. I
[00:04:46] Dane Reis: [00:04:46] love it. I love both of those quotes so much. could you expand a little bit about how. You’ve applied both of those to your daily life and your career.
[00:04:55] Rachel Bertone: [00:04:55] Sure, of course. So, in regards to standing in your own strength for me personally, it’s taken me many years to learn as many artists do.
[00:05:06] You’re your own sense of self worth and why? I am deserving of all my, all my dreams and aspirations and it took me a number. Yeah. And it took me a number of years as a female identifying director. Working in a profession, primarily run by older white CIS males. To learn how to stand in my own strength and stand behind the work and beliefs that I had every right to be proud of.
[00:05:33] So in recent years, I’ve become a big advocate. As you mentioned in the intro for young female, identifying artists, because I want to help them understand what it’s like to be a strong, empowered kick ass and woman in this industry and that their voices matter. so that’s that’s and I have, a friend of mine just made me a little, embroidered little piece of art that says that, that I have on my bookshelf right now with her.
[00:06:02]and, and as for the public Quillo quote, I am a big law of attraction believer. so. For those who don’t know a law of attraction is just simply the ability to attract and manifest the positive things you want into your life. and I’ve been practicing this positive psychology for probably since college, definitely over a decade now.
[00:06:24] And I’ve reading his books for as long. And he he’s a big believer in that. And in the alchemists, he says this quote, and I just firmly believe that the universe is always saying yes, and you simply need to be. You know, vibrating at that like high energy, positive energy level to receive it. And so I’m a big manifester, and believe in that,
[00:06:48] Dane Reis: [00:06:48] I love that.
[00:06:49] Well, let’s move to this next section. And Rachel, of course you are an entertainer. I. I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this is industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally shuttle industries, either of us know about or have experienced. 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.
[00:07:18] It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while of course there is an outrageous amount of fun working on projects and shows and directing and choreographing. We also have, we have our fair share of obstacles that challenges the failures, that we are going to inevitably experience. And we’re going to have to move forward through if you want to continue doing this professionally.
[00:07:40] So. Tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced through your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it?
[00:07:51] Rachel Bertone: [00:07:51] Hmm, that’s a great question. I think one big challenge I have faced is learning how to tactfully and professionally stand up for myself and my team members when producers or artistic directors have differing opinions.
[00:08:07] Than my own. you definitely have to learn which battles to pick as a director. And usually I’m pretty good at making sure those decisions. when I was younger, it was definitely scarier to confront or different opinion from a producer who is often older, white, CIS male. we are taught to yes, and everything.
[00:08:27] Particularly in theater and in the arts and be grateful for every opportunity we receive as artists, but this doesn’t always serve us. So I learned a lot about my sense of integrity from these experiences when actors or designers were being treated poorly or unfairly in situations, I knew that I would think.
[00:08:47] One of the only people who could stand up for them. And I always say this, I use my position of influence, and I like to say position of influence and not power. So I use my position of influence to be their voice and defend them because they too are afraid of potentially getting a reputation of being too difficult to work with, you know, so it hasn’t always ended perfectly, but at the end of the day, I have.
[00:09:13] I’ve never regretted any of those decisions. I am very open minded and understanding person. So if I’m going to challenge or defend someone, I feel very strongly about those issues and believe that something needs to be done or changed. So from those experience experiences, I also learned that I wanted to champion artists, once again, usually younger artists and make sure they know that there’s a space at the table for them and a space for them to be seen and heard.
[00:09:42] I love
[00:09:43] Dane Reis: [00:09:43] that. I love that you’re such an advocate for the artist because when you get into creating a show into production and you’re on that side of the table, there are, there are so many aspects that come into it besides just creating just the art of it, right? There’s the logistics of actually creating it and the finances, but the business side of the show business.
[00:10:02] And it’s hard to make those decisions and to be someone who can span. Both of those worlds is so valuable and important to, to the people you’re working with, but also to the producers that are having you on this project. And I can only imagine that while you have some, some tense moments, I’m sure throughout your career, as you kind of step into your own self, you also.
[00:10:30] Are able to develop those relationships with those producers and you find the people that are great to work with. And ultimately, because you’re such an advocate for the artist, see that you are, you are here for the betterment of the entire production from top to bottom, and that maybe that opens up even more trust and a better relationship moving forward.
[00:10:54] Rachel Bertone: [00:10:54] Absolutely. I firmly believe in. process over product. I strive to create a great product, obviously the theater, but day one, as a director, those, those actors need your actors, your designers. They need to know that you have their back and creating that level of trust is crucial to have a successful and positive and safe process and environment for everyone.
[00:11:23] So, I learned that. From being on the other side of the table when I was performing, and maybe being in slightly toxic environments where I didn’t have that chance to speak my boy. So I always swore I was when I would be directing as I was transitioning into directing, I always said I will never make an actor feel that way.
[00:11:47] Dane Reis: [00:11:47] Hi. Yeah, it is. It’s so important because when you are directing. A group of people and you’re directing the artists. It, you really are asking them to give so much emotionally, you know, and that’s how great productions are created. So you’re already putting artists in a hyper vulnerable position, doing the work to create whatever it is that you’re creating and to be aware of that is so important.
[00:12:18] Rachel Bertone: [00:12:18] Absolutely. And. Being a Bernay Brown sucker. Again, you know, there’s so much strength in vulnerability and artists are putting themselves on the line every single day. They’re putting that vulnerability on the line. And as a director, you need to be able to say, I got your back. I’m going to hold. I’m going to hold a place of safety for you so that you can go to those deepest depths.
[00:12:42] And I have you.
[00:12:44] Dane Reis: [00:12:44] Absolutely. And that’s what a wonderful work happens.
[00:12:46] Rachel Bertone: [00:12:46] Yeah, it does.
[00:12:48] Dane Reis: [00:12:48] Great. Well, let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time that you realized, yes, I am going to be part of this entertainment industry for a living, or maybe it was, yes. This is what I need to be doing in this industry.
[00:13:10] Tell us about that.
[00:13:11] Rachel Bertone: [00:13:11] Sure. Yes, it was in 2012. I wasn’t directing yet, but I had just choreographed my big first musical, which was West side story, which is my favorite musical of all time. And although it was great acquired by Jerome Robbins, the original choreography, and I mean, I believe can’t take Robbins out of West side story, in my opinion, I was able to, to do my own choreography for this particular production up until up until that point, I was choreographing for shows that mostly needed musical staging, or I was restaging original choreography.
[00:13:51] Interestingly enough, we thought I would just restage other people’s. Choreography, because I didn’t think I had a special voice or style at the time that people would want to see or experience. you know, I, when I was, when I went to school at the bathroom conservatory, I took a choreography class and I didn’t.
[00:14:15] I didn’t think anyone thought my word was any good, actually. And I, and I walked away thinking maybe I’m not meant to be a choreographer, but I’ll just challenge, you know, all of this got thrown out the window and after I choreographed this entire production of West side and I realized that was my moment, I realized, wow, I can tell stories through the power of movement and dance.
[00:14:40] And that was so exhilarating and empowering for me. I also learned at that time that I could speak to actors and communicate action and storytelling, and it was actually after that show that the theater saw my potential as a director and asked me to direct and choreograph my very first musical the next year.
[00:15:02] So it was that it was that moment. Yeah. West side story, man.
[00:15:08] Dane Reis: [00:15:08] Yeah. And what a great experience that just transitioned you, it just, all those different circumstances that just highlighted really? What gives you the most fulfillment? That’s fantastic.
[00:15:19] Rachel Bertone: [00:15:19] Yeah, absolutely.
[00:15:21] Dane Reis: [00:15:21] Well, let’s piggyback on that and let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment.
[00:15:28] Walk us through that entire day. What was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book moment?
[00:15:39] Rachel Bertone: [00:15:39] I love this, so I haven’t auditioned for a show in a very long time because I haven’t performed since. 2013, I’ve been very lucky that I’ve booked most of my directorial jobs through referrals.
[00:15:53] So those stories didn’t seem as interesting to tell today. So I will tell this story about booking a job with Disney as a choreographer. So just to give you some history with this, I auditioned for Disney as a performer right after college and booked the job. But I actually didn’t accept it for numerous reasons as positive and amazing as everyone is at Disney, they are.
[00:16:18] They’re truly amazing. I knew in my gut that I was supposed to do think another job that I had been offered and it was performing in three musicals that retail music theater in Boston, coincidentally, I continued working there for 10 more years, eventually directing and choreographing some of my biggest musicals.
[00:16:37] To date and, yeah. And so I know now that if I hadn’t taken that job, if I had taken that job with Disney and may not be where I am today as a director and choreographer, so. Fast forward to last summer. And I learned that they were looking for a choreographer who maintains all the choreography for various shows.
[00:16:57] It sounded very up my alley. So I applied and the process began. So I made it past the application round. So the next step was recording myself, dancing, which I hadn’t done in so long because I wasn’t before me. But because I had a different view on that now, as a director actually had fun with it and I then made it to the next round.
[00:17:19] And I was asked to fly to Disney world to audition in person. The audition. However, the audition was scheduled to be the day before I was supposed to start rehearsals for little shop of cars that I was directing. So I was considering not going another side note is that this is when I was planning to move to New York, which was right after a little shop would open.
[00:17:40] So another reason to perhaps not go. But as always, I say, yes, Anne and I went to Florida and I did the audition. And to my surprise, I had a blast. I nailed, I felt like I nailed every aspect of the audition. And I had so much confidence in myself because I was actually finding the joy. I was having fun. I wasn’t worrying if I would get the job or not.
[00:18:05] And as a director, I knew how the minds were working behind the table. It was. It was like, I knew all the answers to the test, so I did great at the audition. And then I, I did great at the interview portion. And then I literally hopped on the plane and went back to Boston. I was there for less than 48 hours.
[00:18:26] A few weeks later, I got the job and I was really torn because Disney’s such an amazing company, et cetera, et cetera. But crazy enough, I knew in my gut again, over 10 years later that I needed to, I needed to not take the job and I needed to move to New York and pursue my goals. So I respectfully declined.
[00:18:48] And I moved to New York and now I joke that maybe in 10 years or so, like I did, you know, back, you get back in college that hopefully I’ll see why exactly I moved to New York and I didn’t accept that his new job again, I came full circle. So really fascinating experience audition to be in the audition room again and to be on the other side, but to actually have fun doing it, there was just such a difference.
[00:19:17] Perspective. And I think that’s what I did well,
[00:19:20] Dane Reis: [00:19:20] absolutely. And I love that whole story. And the whole, like you said, full circle and how you ultimately chose not to take the job, even though it was a fantastic experience, it would have been a fantastic job to have, but I love that you fall, you followed your, your gut and you’re like, this is what I need to be doing, not this and that.
[00:19:39] That’s okay to say that and admit that to yourself. You don’t just have to follow, you know, the shiny object, And I love that you talked about how you had fun and you were relaxed how you almost knew the answers to the questions and. It’s I love that you said that because it’s something that has been coming up across a lot of interviews, not all of them, but when people talk about that book, that moment, they pretty much all have the same thing in common that they were relaxed.
[00:20:07] They weren’t desperate. They were happy to be there. Everything was a light. And I think there’s so much to learn from that. And it’s, it’s not something you can necessarily fabricate, but knowing that. This is certainly turning into a trend of how people are feeling and going into a room and then coming out with a job.
[00:20:26] Rachel Bertone: [00:20:26] Yes, absolutely. I’m such a big, big, advocate. Maybe that’s not the right word, but I preach all the time. Find the joy, find the joy, you know, don’t let fear dictate your choices. I always say find the joy. Absolutely.
[00:20:43] Dane Reis: [00:20:43] Sometimes easier said than done. But if you, if you know, what, if you know that that’s where you should try to be, you know, try to get yourself to that Headspace.
[00:20:53] And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day where we’re singing, acting and dancing. We’re not. Doing any crazy, crazy stuff. It’s super important and it needs to be done, but
[00:21:05] Rachel Bertone: [00:21:05] it’s
[00:21:05] Dane Reis: [00:21:05] inherently fun and entertaining. You know, we don’t have to go crazy with them.
[00:21:10] Rachel Bertone: [00:21:10] Oh, I totally agree.
[00:21:12] Dane Reis: [00:21:12] Yeah. Singing, acting, and dancing.
[00:21:14] It’s a fun
[00:21:15] Rachel Bertone: [00:21:15] thing. Yeah. It’s a fun,
[00:21:18] Dane Reis: [00:21:18] take a moment to talk about the present. What, what projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And of course, this is a weird time with this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:21:34] Rachel Bertone: [00:21:34] Definitely. So I had, I did a number of shows that I was supposed to directing choreographing this summer, including a Vieta and the King. And I, so hopefully those will be in the seasons of those theaters next year, but, you know, I along with so many of my colleagues, you know, it’s the time that we just have to trust and, you know, accept what our current situations are in terms of our artistic endeavors.
[00:22:02]but to stay creatively active, I, and currently collaborating. With some very talented artists and artists and friends of mine. I can’t say what they are now, but stay tuned, hopefully. but you know, I’ve been having in terms of where the industry is going. I’ve had, I’ve been having a lot of conversations.
[00:22:25] About this with friends. And I think we’re going, I think we’re going to see in terms of storytelling, I think we’re going to see a range of stories coming forward. I think we’re going to see some political, we’re going to see some satirical for sure, but I know that all of them. It will be filled with passion and many will have, I think universal messages, artists are just so hungry right now to create more than ever and longing to be in a room with each other, with other creative minds.
[00:22:57] So I think we’ve learned a lot about how to use technology right now to use stories. And I think technology will come with us. Right. Like we knew we were heading in this technological direction anyways, but you know, now we were forced to, to accept it. But I learned that, you know, even though we’ll use technology, I think to support storytelling in different ways, I think I’ve also learned that art is truly a human connection and that technology alone will not suffice our, our medium.
[00:23:35] It can’t, it can’t be, it’s not a course event. It’s not a movie. It’s not a film it’s supposed to be experienced life. It’s not even Netflix. And that’s a whole nother, beautiful art form. Right. And that’s, and that’s amazing, but theater is designed to be live. and I, and I, I think right now we have to embrace in tech.
[00:23:56] We do have to embrace technology and see how we can be creative with it. I love all my friends creating videos and. I think that’s beautiful right now. We need it, but going forward, I think we’re going to get back to the human connection and I think eventually human touch is going to be. So powerful when we see that on the stage again.
[00:24:19] Dane Reis: [00:24:19] Absolutely. And I hope so much that that’s exactly what happens. I’m hopeful. Well, let’s 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. Okay. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.
[00:24:40] Are you ready? All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career in the entertainment industry?
[00:24:54] Rachel Bertone: [00:24:54] Not feeling like I had a voice in the room.
[00:24:57] Dane Reis: [00:24:57] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:25:04] Rachel Bertone: [00:25:04] Before you walk into a room, take whatever stressful negative feelings you may be experiencing and put them into a box tie, a beautiful ribbon around it.
[00:25:15] We’ll leave it outside the door. It will be waiting for you if you want to pick it up and unwrap it afterwards. But for now, there’s nothing you can do about those feelings and they aren’t benefiting anyone. Anyone else in the room, especially yourself. I
[00:25:28] Dane Reis: [00:25:28] think that is incredibly sound advice for anybody listening new or old in the industry.
[00:25:35] And the 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? Pause
[00:25:46] Rachel Bertone: [00:25:46] my self care routine. Yeah. And journaling, especially journaling. What I do every morning before I begin my work, I take out my, I take out my journal and I, and I write, and it gives me clarity and peace of mind during these.
[00:26:07] Dane Reis: [00:26:07] And the fourth question, what is the best resource? Whether it’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe at the podcast, maybe it’s a piece of technology that you have found is helping your career right now.
[00:26:19] Rachel Bertone: [00:26:19] The artist’s way by Julia Cameron. I swear by it.
[00:26:25] Dane Reis: [00:26:25] And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch.
[00:26:30] But 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?
[00:26:42] Rachel Bertone: [00:26:42] I would not listen to the noise in my head.
[00:26:46] Dane Reis: [00:26:46] Absolutely. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you have learned from your successful career in this industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?
[00:26:58] Rachel Bertone: [00:26:58] That’s the saying of a former teacher of mine said to me, if not now, when, if I, if I expanded upon just a smidgen, I would just say that I always take this. I always take this into the room when I. When I teach and when I direct and whenever I’m doubting myself and I say, why would they want me, will I even get a shot at this job?
[00:27:21] Or maybe when I’m feeling unmotivated, I just have to say, if not now, when, when am I going to do this? After someone else gets the job, now I need to do it now. Right now.
[00:27:33] Dane Reis: [00:27:33] Absolutely. There’s so much to be said about living in, acting in the now it’s again, one of those things that’s. Can be a bit easier said than done.
[00:27:43] Rachel Bertone: [00:27:43] Definitely.
[00:27:44] Dane Reis: [00:27:44] But it is so true. And I personally can account most of my successes to just saying we’re doing this because you have to, you know, cause your alternative is not booking it or not even being considered. You have to put yourself out there.
[00:28:06] Rachel Bertone: [00:28:06] Absolutely. Or, or someone else’s someone else’s just gonna step right in front of you.
[00:28:13] Dane Reis: [00:28:13] Exactly. You know, if you’re auditioning for a show, for instance, or any kind of job that exists, they’re going to use it. Someone’s going to be in that position. Right.
[00:28:22] Rachel Bertone: [00:28:22] So
[00:28:24] Dane Reis: [00:28:24] why not you?
[00:28:25] Rachel Bertone: [00:28:25] Why not? You exactly right.
[00:28:29] Dane Reis: [00:28:29] Well, let’s wrap up this interview and that means it is time for you to give yourself a plug.
[00:28:35] Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you’d like
[00:28:41] Rachel Bertone: [00:28:41] to promote? Sure. Well, thank you. I. Anyone can find me on Facebook, Rachel baritone. so I have my group in which I actually run most of my business off of is called musical theater with Rachel Beartown and it’s a public group.
[00:28:57] So you can find it. That’s where I post all my classes and workshops that range from dance classes, choreography workshops, directing workshops, et cetera. It’s the whole gamut. And then I do also coach privately. So, if anyone’s interested in that they can reach out to me. My website is Rachel burton.com.
[00:29:16] So my email contact is there. If you wish to connect further, so happy to meet anyone who wants to join the fun.
[00:29:26] Dane Reis: [00:29:26] Love it. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for joining me today. It has been wonderful to have you.
[00:29:34] Rachel Bertone: [00:29:34] Oh, thank you so much, Dean. It’s my pleasure.
[00:29:37] Dane Reis: [00:29:37] 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.
[00:29:48] 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. 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.
[00:30:11] All the best to you. We’ll see you tomorrow.