by Matt Smith . . .
Still hankering for a heartwarming finale? Despite the new mask mandates and the virus variants looming over us, we’re still looking forward — as theaters in New York and across the country announce their grand reopenings — to getting things moving in a new, progressive direction, led with love, light and hope for the future. We present to you now the last edition of our months-long Quarantine Questionnaire, as we wrap up with the second half of our two-part finale, wherein almost all of our original panel participants share their thoughts on how to move forward, using the best advice they’ve ever received (and from whom!) as a catalyst for their actions. Just as before, the advisors range from Tony winners to parental figures to pop culture personalities… but the one thing they have in common? The advice is spot-on across the board! Curious as to who said what and to whom? Scroll through our “second dose” (wink wink) of panel participants and see what wisdom you can glean from the group and their mentors. Then, get your second dose, and book those tickets, ‘cause the orchestra’s tuning up and that curtain’ll be rising again soon enough. After all, we did say — from the very beginning — it was #onlyintermission.
ACT I: THE QUESTIONS
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received – career or otherwise – and how will you use that advice to fuel yourself as we come out of the pandemic?
ACT II: THE RESPONSES
Josh Lamon (The Prom, Josh Swallows Broadway):
1. Always be kind.
2. The past year or so has been so hard for everyone. Kindness means more than ever. Even if that means having to take a step back to breathe before you move forward.
Michael James Leslie (The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, Barrow Street Sweeney Todd):
1. The most powerful advice I ever received was that the deterring factor for great acting and great intelligence is the ability to listen.
2. During the pandemic, I have learned the value of the people who populate my life. As we move forward, I will continue to listen more closely to those I cherish.
Bobbi MacKenzie (School of Rock: The Musical):
1. To truly know myself.
2. I need to truly know myself so that I can be wise about my goals and dreams and really act upon them post-pandemic. I’ve gotta keep pushing!!
Michael J. Moritz, Jr. (Hadestown, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Ratatouille):
1. Early on, I had a director tell me that worry, anxiety, and frustration are all things that are totally unproductive. I think of it often!
2. I use that advice daily already! Post-pandemic, we are all just going to need time to come back at our own pace. Everyone has been through some sort of trauma, and we all need to give ourselves permission to go as slowly as we need to.
Luca Padovan (Newsies, School of Rock: The Musical, You):
1. Ground yourself in the comfort of knowing who you are.
2. Pre-pandemic, I used to let other people’s opinions dictate my self-worth and I spent so much time trying to be a perfect version of myself to please others. Over the past few months, I came to the realization that it’s impossible to please everyone, so I might as well just be myself. I’ve learned to love myself fully and not change for anyone’s validation. Life is too short to give haters space in my head.
Robbie Rozelle (Broadway Records, Songs from Inside My Locker, Back in the Basement):
1. The best advice I ever received was from the late Jan Maxwell. She was doing an interview I was filming for a friend, and she looked straight down the eye of the camera, right into me, and said, “You have to create your own projects. Choose yourself and others will choose you.” It’s great advice not just for the business, but also in life.
2. I’ve actually used it already, with my new show “Back in the Basement,” which helped to reopen Feinstein’s/54 Below. Creating my own projects is key to my mental health. I can’t control everything in life, but I can control my own projects. It’s been really great to be able to create something new. And it’s all because of Jan Maxwell’s advice.
Isabella Russo (School of Rock: The Musical, We Have a Ghost):
1. Recently, I was told, “Nothing is permanent. The good times don’t last and neither do the bad.” I find that very comforting in the long run.
2. I try to keep that bit of advice in mind every day and I know I’ll continue to do so post-pandemic. During rough times, you just have to remember that things will eventually get better. And in the good times, be sure to make the most of them. Be present and enjoy them while they last!
Analise Scarpaci (Mrs. Doubtfire):
1. I was once told that as we get older, our brain creates a filter over itself that tries to hold our creativity back. Our job as actors is to make sure we let that filter go and [allow] our brains to be fully open and available to express that creativity without any doubts or negative energy holding us back.
2. I mean, blocking our negative energy is definitely easier said than done, but I find that the most effective way [to do it] is to make sure that I am always being my truest self and putting my best foot forward at all times.
Donna Vivino (Les Misérables, Wicked, Cats):
1. Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe.
2. Trust my gut and know that I am never completely powerless, but also staying humble enough to know I can ask for help, too.