Broadway Producer Joey Monda
In this episode, host Rodney Veal talks with Joey Monda, a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer and theater manager, about how his time at Wright State helped shape his future in the business side of live theater.
[00:00:29] Rodney Veal: Okay, so here we are and, and this to, in today’s podcast, which I’m super excited about I’m gonna fanboy out a little bit. I have never met Joey Monda. But his reputation and his talent precede him. And Joey Monda is a manager in New York as well as a producer, correct?
[00:00:48] Joey Monda: That’s correct. I deal with all of the business side of theater and how to make it a commercial enterprise. Yes.
[00:00:54] Rodney Veal: And what as, because he is from the Midwest, he would never lead with this.
[00:00:58] He is a two-time Tony [00:01:00] Award winner, producer of Hades Town and Strange Loop and has put, so I, I consider to be some of the most incredible productions on on the Broadway stage that I could get to love from afar as some, some really incredible things. And we’ll dive into all of that. But everyone, this is Joey.
[00:01:19] Hi, Joey. How are you?
[00:01:20] Joey Monda: Thanks, Rodney. It’s great to be here. Very, very honored.
[00:01:23] Rodney Veal: That’s super cool. Okay, so I love the fact because you, I, I didn’t mention earlier, but you’re our right state alum. Mm-hmm. . And so I’m sending, I’m gonna do this early. Joe Dear and Stuart McDowell, say Hello , because I see them on a regular basis.
[00:01:39] And here’s why. Because I am actually my partner and I are co-chairing the Wright State Arts Gala
[00:01:44] Joey Monda: on behalf of everybody at Wright State, thank you for doing that. That’s it’s a great event and great service that you’re doing. Thank you.
[00:01:51] Rodney Veal: I I totally appreciate it. I’m so honored.
[00:01:53] And we’re, we’re just, we were little gobsmacked. We’re like really us and so we’re, we’re taking it to heart and you know, we just, because we [00:02:00] just believe it, you know, I, I know what an, what a, a scholarship will do. It could change a life. It could change our. Larger community with allowing this talent to blossom.
[00:02:10] So, so it’s super cool that way. So they send their love and so it’s kinda a good way to get into the background. So I, my curiosity is you grew up in Youngstown. How. Did you come to this place of wanting to be in musical theater? This is before pro producing.
[00:02:25] So what drove you to kinda head down that lane?
[00:02:30] Joey Monda: Well, you, when you kind of like start connecting some of the dots, it actually makes really perfect sense for me. I was a hyperactive child. My parents did not know what. Outlet for my energy. I hated sports. Did not respond well when they signed me up for soccer.
[00:02:43] And so out of nothing but desperation we looked into putting Mia into theater and I, through friends of the family, we hooked up with the Youngstown Playhouse, which was a community theater in Youngstown, Ohio. And I got cast in my first production. You know, five or six [00:03:00] years old and that just kind of lit, you know, lit the light.
[00:03:04] There was no turning it off after that. I made some tremendous friends and the Playhouse family really took me in and that really became the foundation for a lot for basically my entire childhood all the way up through. . And then I will also say that, you know, my, both of my parents are very business minded individuals.
[00:03:23] Okay. My mom is the former, my mom’s the former dean of the College of Business at Youngstown State University. My dad ran a healthcare complex in Ravenna, Ohio, and so I grew up always having to bridge this left and right brain, you know, where my interest was very much in the arts and culture side of things.
[00:03:41] But my parents and my background and the, you know, Family life that I was living was very business minded and very type A and everything. And so I grew up always bridging these two sides of my brain. I also played the piano and so it was like that was one of my artistic outlets. And when I was at the Playhouse and doing other [00:04:00] regional theater, I did everything.
[00:04:01] I stage managed, I music directed. I worked backstage, I did the lights, I had exposure. To every single aspect of what makes a show happen. And so all of that in my rear view mirror, rear view mirror, it’s completely incidental that I found myself doing what I do for a living and living in the world that I do because it all is exactly back to.
[00:04:25] When I was five years old playing Stuart Little at the Youngstown Playhouse with
[00:04:28] Rodney Veal: ha I was gonna ask him what the play was that, was it Stuart Little and
[00:04:31] Joey Monda: was Stuart Little. And so that, yeah, that’s, it all is very easily trackable back to that particular moment.
[00:04:38] Rodney Veal: Oh, I, what was it like? Oh, because, because I know, I know for me, when I first saw Mihail Burakoff dance, and that was like my, when I saw him dance, I was like,
[00:04:47] That’s what I want. That’s that. I think I could do this. So when you, like, so like the light bulb blowed my ice got big. Did did that happen? Was there a light bulb moment in that process where you went Oh yeah. Oh yeah. . [00:05:00]
[00:05:00] Joey Monda: I mean, there, I wouldn’t say that there was a light bulb moment because it was just a series of so many things where, you know, I, I, when I did Stuart Little, I was con connected with.
[00:05:11] Elementary, middle and high schoolers that were doing theater regularly at their schools and in their communities and everything. And then I watched the kids that were older than me go to college for musical theater. Okay. And so there was always this path that others that I watched others pursue, where they could go and make a life out of this and go and figure out how to do it as.
[00:05:33] Left their small community at Y in Youngstown. And so that was somewhat of always the natural progression for me so that there was never a moment where I was like, that’s what I wanna do. There was always just kind of this, that’s the path I wanna follow. And I saw lots of people doing it. And then you know, in hindsight I went to Wright State for a musical theater performance major.
[00:05:53] I was an actor and I, you know, did voice lessons and dance classes and everything. Yeah. and [00:06:00] since I moved to New York, I’ve not done anything on the performing side of things because in hindsight, while I grew up thinking that I wanted to be on Broadway, what I realize now is that I actually just really wanted to work on Broadway.
[00:06:15] Oh. And so I, you know, this idea that what I get to do now is I’m involved in, like I said, all of the different aspects of what make a show and all of the different people and jobs. that go into that. And so it’s it’s never really been like that. If I had to track it back to a specific moment, it’s always just kind of been a natural growth out of the next thing and into the next thing where I can just continue to build a fou build on a very great foundation that places like Wright State and the Youngstown Playhouse have provided me.
[00:06:48] Rodney Veal: Oh, that’s so awesome. And I love the fact, well cuz you know, we’re both native Ohioans and you know, it’s like, there’s something about Ohio and, and the arts and, and let’s say I love the fact that you’re, [00:07:00] you know, it’s a natural progression and you talk about it and it’s not one light bulb. So you’re on the pathway.
[00:07:06] I mean, I don’t know, it seems to me your parents are very understanding of the fact that you wanted to pursue this pathway and the arts. I mean, you know, my parents were. Perceptive to as well.
[00:07:19] Joey Monda: Well, I’m fortunate. Yeah. I’m fortunate that they never resisted it. I think that, you know, my parents both saw that I was a really.
[00:07:27] Smart and very resourceful person. And so the idea that I was always gonna figure out a way to land on my feet I think they, they saw that that sort of just natural tendency that they had, you know, instilled in me and everything. And so I, I, I can’t speak for them and say that they were always totally comfortable with it or that they had blind faith that I was gonna make something of myself.
[00:07:50] Rodney Veal: I’m one of these , a lot of those.
[00:07:52] Joey Monda: Yeah, but it was def it was definitely trust and it was definitely I think they, they saw what a lot of other people in Dayton and other [00:08:00] people that have supported me growing up and throughout my life is that, you know, there was just such an un. Unabashed passion and enthusiasm for what this world was and how I was able to make one, one opportunity lead into another and lead into another.
[00:08:16] And so there was a constant sort of always forward motion, forward momentum that I was able to build on.
[00:08:23] Rodney Veal: Okay. All right. So let’s talk about right state then, because I mean, cuz that seems to play a real pivotal connection, like, you know, a role. On the pathway. I mean, yeah, talk about right shape because Jonathan McNeil, I, who I interviewed for, who’s doing such fantastic work at the Neon movies and Dayton, he was in the film department, so he talked about right shape from the perspective of the film department.
[00:08:45] Talk about Right Shapes theater department, why is it so special that we have a college that’s really dedicated proposition of musical theater as a, as a career track and a.
[00:08:57] Joey Monda: Yeah. Well, I, I think one of the things that [00:09:00] makes Wright State so wonderful and unique is the Midwestern values that you’ve kind of talked about.
[00:09:05] You know, there, there was very much sort of a regimented training program that you went through and then you graduated and you were typed and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Whereas right state, even from the moment that I did my college. The energy and the environment was very different than all of the other schools that I had visited.
[00:09:24] There was much more of a focus on individual artistry. . There was a focus on personal growth and there was a connection with the faculty to the students and the students to each other that I didn’t get to obs that I did not observe personally from any of the other schools that I visited. And you know, the ways that that ended up benefiting me through my four years at school was that.
[00:09:49] The program was very embracing of all of my many desires and my interests. So it wasn’t just that while I was at school for a musical theater major that I had to [00:10:00] do every perf, every production you know, they were very accommodating when I wanted to go work at the Human Race Theater Company or when I wanted to go music direct at a community theater in Dayton.
[00:10:10] When I wanted to take time to go to New York and work in the industry Wright State and the faculty were always incredibly accommodating and supportive of all of those different interests that I was able to have all while keeping me at the same standards and expectations of other students who did not have all of those different.
[00:10:30] Many desires. And so I was still required to do the same auditions that everybody else in the program was. But I was also able to play in the pit at the human race when they did the drowsy chaperone at the Victoria or you know, there, there was just always, I was able to be a production assistant on Carolina change.
[00:10:47] There was an embracing and an opportunity for me to go and explore all of these different facets of theater that I don’t think I would’ve received the same level of in support and encourage. from any other institution. And the [00:11:00] thing that also makes Wright State so remarkable and actually makes Dayton really special, is that there is a really proportionately outsized arts community for a city that is the size of Dayton, Ohio.
[00:11:12] Wright State was a hugely pivotal part of my personal artistic journey and my professional. . You know, one of the things that I think makes unique, makes Wright State so unique beyond other colleges that also have conservatory style programs, is that there’s a huge amount of focus and prioritizing of a student’s individual artistry which I did not experience.
[00:11:37] From any of the other schools that I was visiting when I was doing the college audition circuit there was an immediate sense in atmosphere that Wright State was focusing on each individual student, how to train them and how to make them the best artist that they can be rather than necessarily directly trying to pigeonhole them into what the industry.
[00:11:59] [00:12:00] Was going to expect of them or need them to be. And so that sort of individuality and focus on me individually that I really benefited from at Wright State was that that also meant that the faculty and the program was super encouraging and supportive of me and my many different theatrical interests.
[00:12:20] And so when I told them that I wanted to go work at the human race and play in one of. And the musician pit, they were supportive of that and they gave me the opportunity and the, they worked with me on a schedule that I was able to do. The same thing when I said that I wanted to go music direct at a community theater.
[00:12:38] They were able to support me and provide me with that sort of opportunity. In addition to also having a student run theater on campus that I ran for three of the four years that I was at school. So at Wright State, I was getting experience in singing, acting, dancing, which is what my degree is in. But I was also getting experience in producing, in directing, in.
[00:12:59] [00:13:00] Physical design in music directing. I was able to do all of those different facets and explore all of those different facets all while still being a musical theater major and having a faculty that was really supportive of me exploring all of those different areas. And so I’m, I love it. I’m incredibly grateful for Wright State.
[00:13:19] Rodney Veal: I love it cuz that’s because that was the question I asked Stewart. I said, well how, how does one go down a pathway of Boone producer? And he goes, well, Joey was producing a lot of student run theater in our black box for three or the four years. And I said, oh, that explains it . I’m like, because it, it does take that left and right brain sort of from your childhood to kind of be able to do.
[00:13:44] Navigate Absolutely. Both worlds. Yeah.
[00:13:45] Joey Monda: And so within that, you know, I was also able to navigate kind of the, the difficulties of politicking with my fellow students of politicking with the faculty members because you know, all of that and making sure that everybody understood all of the different facets that it [00:14:00] takes to put on a show and everything.
[00:14:01] And so yeah, that, that is sort of opportunity, and again, it’s not just the saying here it is, it was the encouragement that was really unique that I think makes Wright State really above and beyond. And I think it’s also really remarkable that in the, you know, in the last, what, five years Wright State has.
[00:14:21] two Oscar winners. You know, me having won multiple Tony Awards, like there’s a tr there’s a tremendous amount of success that has come out of a really small commuter campus public university. Yeah. And I think that’s a real, that’s a real testament to the artistic community and home that Right state fosters and at the really important place that it sits within a larger arts landscape in the Dayton region.
[00:14:48] Rodney Veal: I love it, and it’s so true, and I, and I, you know, I get to partake of it every day since we were here in Dayton. And I just, it’s just like how, it’s just, it’s just lovely. I just love the fact that I could make a living and a career [00:15:00] here in Dayton, Ohio, in the arts. I mean, did you go to New York going, I wanna go on the producing side, or did you go thinking you were going to maybe do the performing side? How did that transition, I mean, how did that happen?
[00:15:10] Like you get. Yeah.
[00:15:12] Joey Monda: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know that I necessarily came to New York with a really specific idea of this is what I wanted to do. Actually, in fact, I know I didn’t. So one of the things that I did during college while at Wright State, the summer between my sophomore and my junior year, I got a job interning and being the, the assistant for Seth Rusky, who is a Broadway personality and music director.
[00:15:34] Seth is You know, just everybody on Broadway knows that has been a, he’s been in the business forever. He’s not only just known but beloved by so many people.
[00:15:45] And so working for and with him was really actually kind of the catalyst for a lot of things. So I worked for him the summer between my sophomore and junior year at Wright State. But I always kept in touch with him. And then when I moved [00:16:00] to New York I actually had an internship working for a Tony Award-winning producer who was working on this big Broadway bound musical called Kinky Boots.
[00:16:09] And she, in addition to having this producing office, also had a general management office, a theatrical management office. Okay. And so for those of your listeners who don’t know, Which many of the, even the people in, in the business don’t really know. A general manager in theater is really the like chief of staff for a politician.
[00:16:31] Okay. Right, right. Politician. The politician has the ideas, the producer has all of the ideas and what, how they want to, what they want the show to be, how they wanna do it, and it’s really the general manager’s job. To go and execute it. And so the general manager is responsible for the budgeting and the contracts and the finances and all of that.
[00:16:50] Okay. And so this producer had a general management office as well, and that was my first experience within. The business [00:17:00] of side of show business and really seeing how do you put together a financial model? How do you put together a business plan? How do you work with advertising agencies and all of this that goes into not just the art that we’re creating, but how to make sure that there’s an audience to see it.
[00:17:17] And so that was really the moment that opened my eyes to all of the different facets of this business. and that just kind of again, I was fortunate and lucky to be able to turn an opportunity into another opportunity, into another opportunity. And that, that’s really how it all has spun out.
[00:17:36] Rodney Veal: I love it.
[00:17:36] Yeah, just, I mean, yeah, just a little show called Kinky Boots. I mean, it’s No, you know, yeah.
[00:17:41] Joey Monda: It was a little, yeah, it was a little, you know, skit.
[00:17:43] Rodney Veal: Little, little skit that they’ve, eh, some people might enjoy it. It’s a great show. And so you get this like, See it, it, what I gather from the fact is that you really just enjoyed this back behind the scenes world.
[00:17:57] This was like, you know, you like, because it really isn’t [00:18:00] behind the scenes. You’re in the world.
[00:18:01] Joey Monda: It’s not. It’s the intersection of all of my interests. It’s, yeah. I, it’s like I fell in love with the shows when, with musicals and plays when I was doing community theater and at Wright State. I fell in love with it and now I’m seeing all of the different facets of what that original production, what what it took to make that original production.
[00:18:23] And it’s all of my different interests of. How do you find something that is artistically really compelling and exciting, but then figuring out the financial model on how to make money off of it and how does that, you know, create a business that supports employees and supports an entire landscape and ecosystem in itself.
[00:18:44] And to do that. And so it’s like that, that sort of opened my eyes into all of the, it, it’s the perfect intersection of all of my interests and all of my.
[00:18:54] Rodney Veal: I absolutely love it. So we’re gonna take a little bit of a break. This is the part in the podcast that [00:19:00] happens. But when we come back, I’m gonna ask more questions of Joey and we’re gonna go into the Tony Award landscape, which is very fascinating to me.
[00:19:09] Great. We’ll be back folks.
[00:19:40] Rodney Veal: Okay, Joey, so all of this preparation, I mean, you’ve, you’re working on the little. Kinky boots, you know, that little primer for folks, the little skit. But that all that experience has kind of led you to the one experience after the next experience. So how did the experience of. Going into the, from the general [00:20:00] manager side to, like you said, the producing side, where you have a vision, you see, you know, you see the material.
[00:20:05] What, did you read the script for Hades Town, or how does that work as a producer to decide this is worth investing in? Not only just money, but time and energy and the whole, whole. .
[00:20:19] Joey Monda: There’s many different paths that a show can take to get to a commercial production in eventually Broadway. Most of them right now at least tend to have a not-for-profit or an off-Broadway production.
[00:20:30] And so Hades Town, I saw the show and it was originally at New York Theater Workshop off Broadway. And prior to Haiti’s Town being off Broadway, I had also been in the producing office and was one of the lead producers on the musical Alleg. Starring George Decay and one of our co-producers I knew was already working on Hades Town at the time.
[00:20:50] And so after I saw Hades Town off Broadway, my producing partner and I both loved it so much that we immediately called this colleague of ours and said, we have to be a part of [00:21:00] this as you keep moving it forward. And so that was really. , you know, that that was really the start for that particular production.
[00:21:07] And that’s still a very large part of my job, which is, you know, how great is that, that a huge part of my job is going and seeing shows around the world, .
[00:21:16] Rodney Veal: Right, exactly. Come on.
[00:21:18] Joey Monda: And so that’s real. That’s probably one of the easiest ways I would say of that.
[00:21:22] I go and I. Tons of stuff. I see tons of off Broadway shows. I see I go to London frequently. I see tons of theater to try to figure out and see what I think is gonna work on Broadway both artistically and financially. Which is figuring that out, which
[00:21:39] Rodney Veal: is, which is really important I think a lot of people don’t recognize.
[00:21:42] You can also, you can make an artistic product and you can also. Make money at it, which I, I always try to tell parents of students, you know, you know, you can do both. , they’re
[00:21:52] Joey Monda: not exactly, they’re not exclusive. And ultimately we need the pro, you know, Hades Town is a perfect example of something that’s artistically [00:22:00] really special and really unique, but financially also is, it’s a small musical.
[00:22:05] It doesn’t have a lot of actors. , it doesn’t cost a lot of money to run and operate. And so the intersection of those two things is really exciting to me. And that’s a regular drive for me as a producer is what are these things that are not just you know, big. Empty hollow shows, but things that actually, and that’s not to say that I don’t love, you know, big fun musicals because that’s what I originally fell in love with.
[00:22:33] My by birdie is one of my favorites, like, right. I love these big fun, fun song and dance pieces. But wh how do they fit into the world? How do they, is there a politic. You know, political motivation to them. Is there a social justice element of it? Like what are those, what is those intersections?
[00:22:48] Hairspray is a perfect example of that too. You know, hairspray is a big fun musical that has social justice at the heart of it. And everything. And so that’s, that’s the type of work that I’m so fortunate that I [00:23:00] get to spend every day, all day doing. Oh, that
[00:23:02] Rodney Veal: is such a cool thing. And like, and as, and so, I mean, the fact that you knew Hades Town was like, special.
[00:23:09] You, you knew, like, you, like I for our listeners is like, if, if something really strikes an artist, I mean, I, I was speaking from that for myself. I won’t speak for you, but I, you spoke for yourself so eloquently. You just get excited. It’s like you just feel like this electricity to your body and you’re like, you have to tell everybody, like, you gotta go see this play, or You need to see this dance production, and this is.
[00:23:32] Joey Monda: Primo, right? We all consume media. It’s the same things that you see a TV show and you’re just like, that was really surprising to me. That movie really got me in a way that I didn’t expect to do it. And you know, obviously being in this business and seeing as much stuff as I do you know, my tolerance is very different than somebody who might just see two Broadway shows a year.
[00:23:54] And so when something like that really speaks to me, I know that it’s elevated and I know it’s doing something [00:24:00] special. In that way. Wow,
[00:24:02] Rodney Veal: that’s such a cool thing. So Hayestown takes you to the gold. It takes you to the, to the to the, to the stage. How did that feel like you, you knew the spark was there and then.
[00:24:13] The show wins. It’s just, you know, best musical.
[00:24:15] Joey Monda: I mean, it’s thrilling. You know, I’m just a very tiny piece of a much larger co, of a much larger machine. But that’s the thing is it takes so many of these different people to make a show a success and to see. Not just the production as a whole, which the production is so special to see the production get nominated and recognized in that way.
[00:24:34] But also to see so many of our principal actors, you know, Patrick Cage had been in this business for so long. Andre had been in this business for so long. Yes. And to see these people get recognized at that. At that time and everything. It again, just speaks to the uniqueness of the moment and the power of what we’re all doing each eight times a week at the, at the theater.
[00:24:57] I love it.
[00:24:57] Rodney Veal: I love it. Your production company [00:25:00] also produced, inherit. And a slave play. And I’m really intrigued by a slave play because that came up in conversation at our board meeting at Dayton Live and I said, I think we could do it
[00:25:12] They said, I said, A Dayton audience ready? I said, we’ll make ’em ready. I mean, cuz I really wa I’m intrigued by the premise of that play. That’s, I was daring stuff. I mean, Jeremy Harris is doing.
[00:25:24] Joey Monda: Pretty. That’s pretty. Yeah. But that’s, I mean, that’s that’s the type of theater that I get really interested and excited by.
[00:25:30] And, you know, again slave Place started at New York Theater Workshop. That was, its first off Broadway. That was the Off Broadway production. And that one, there was something very clearly special about it, a because of the experience that you had in the theater. But nobody left that theater ambivalent about what they just.
[00:25:50] Everybody had a super strong opinion about what that experience was. Some people absolutely loved it and had, you know, a truly [00:26:00] world, world shaking experience. Yeah, mind blowing. Yes. And other people loathed it and thought it was divisive and awful and offensive and traumatic and all of those things.
[00:26:12] There was nobody that just left. Okay.
[00:26:16] Rodney Veal: I, I, what’s for dinner? You know, . No, that’s right.
[00:26:19] Joey Monda: That’s, and that’s what theater should do to us. That’s what I want. Theater. And that’s, that’s the type of theater I wanna see. So therefore, that’s the type of theater that I wanna put out into the world is theater.
[00:26:30] That you may not like it, but it creates conversation and it has a place and it’s exciting and interesting and new. And the inheritance was a similar way where, you know, mm-hmm. , nobody left that feed. At the end of part one because it was a two, you know, it was a two part play. Two part play, right, right.
[00:26:47] Exactly. Nobody left that theater feeling empty or it, it, it created such, it elicited such a strong emotional reaction from its audience, myself included. That the, it very clearly was [00:27:00] something special was there. We have to look at this and how do we find a commercial path forward? Now, unfortunately, both of those shows wild artistic successes.
[00:27:09] We did not find the intersection and hit the zeitgeist in the right way to make them the commercial successes. And so I continue, that continues to kind of be. My Moby Dick of how do we keep finding these shows and this, this art, movies, television, theater, podcasts, whatever it is that are exciting and artistically inspiring, but also how do we create a path forward for them so that they create finances and commercial success around them.
[00:27:38] Rodney Veal: Well, and I I, and that’s why I was so, so curious to talk to you, to, because you’re kind of in, in essence, and I hate the phrase gatekeeper because that’s not what you are, it’s, but you are in a sense. But just if we step back from any negative connotation of it, just you’re, you’re in the epicenter of art and culture and, and the country.
[00:27:58] And I would say even indeed the [00:28:00] world and plus London too, will add London to the World Station. And so, it is gotta be this kind of interesting place to be where you’re seeing all of this work and you’re seeing all this stuff. And I love how you said television because I know that and, and film, because I know you some, a couple of productions you’ve produced to be shown in in movie theaters and that seems to have been vitally successful.
[00:28:23] Joey Monda: Well, I’ll tie that’s what the audience, I will tie that somewhat into your comment about gatekeeper which in all, I, I don’t, I think the word is accurate, you know, negative connotation or not. It is true that I have privilege and that I have a deciding factor in what sort of work gets produced on the largest stage in the country and in the world.
[00:28:44] So there is a responsibility and there is a, a gatekeeper nature of that. And, . I don’t I don’t shirk away from that. I, that doesn’t scare me to say that because Yes, I want to talk about how we break down that gatekeeper mentality and how do we get rid, how do we right, right. Democratize. [00:29:00] But you know, the idea that.
[00:29:03] Broadway for me. As you can tell, I am so unabashedly passionate about it. I fell in love with Broadway being a kid in Youngstown, Ohio, and the way that I fell in love with these musicals and this art form was through recordings, cast albums, and video recordings. It was Donnie Osmond and Joseph. It was Kathy.
[00:29:23] It was Kathy Rigby, and Mary Martin and Peter Pan. It was the original Broadway cast recording of, bye-bye. , all of those things because I did not have regular access to go see Broadway musicals on a Broadway scale. All of those things contributed to my passion and my desire to be in this business. And so one of the things that I continue to feel, feel very strongly about is how do we expand Broadway as a brand and our Broadway shows and our stories beyond the four walls of these theaters in new.
[00:29:57] because the majority of people who will, who [00:30:00] want to see your show are either economically prohibited from doing so. They can’t afford a ticket, they can’t afford the cost to get to New York. And all of the, you know, domino effects that that is, or they’re geographically prohibited, which means they just aren’t close enough that the show is never gonna come to a theater near you or something like that.
[00:30:18] And so the idea of cinema distribution and cinema. Release for our Broadway productions is a really great way to break down both of those barriers and to to really come up against them because I can put, I can film my Broadway musical and put it in 700 movie theaters across the country for $18, and so all of a sudden, Thousands of people who would never have otherwise had an opportunity to see the show now have an opportunity to do it and more so all of those people who would probably not have been able to, who probably would not have spent a hundred dollars on a ticket to see something that they didn’t [00:31:00] really know if they were gonna enjoy it or not.
[00:31:02] But they’ll spend $18 cuz that risk is. Right, right, right. My belief is now all of those people who see the movie and fall in love with it are more, are more likely to go spend a hundred dollars on a ticket when the show comes through that their city on tour or something like that. It creates the sense of engagement and emotional attachment to a story that otherwise an audience member never would’ve.
[00:31:31] Rodney Veal: I love it. I mean that’s, and that is, that is that’s what we’re dealing with now with Dayton Live, is trying to get audience members to that place. And so, I mean, that’s one of the conversation we’re we’re having with Dayton Live because people have to have an emotional connection and a response to, to something to kind of make that, like, to your point, like, I’m willing to invest $75, $80, $100..
[00:31:54] Joey Monda: Especially coming out of Covid now where we have so much content and we don’t even have to [00:32:00] leave our couch. I can sit and have an emotionally fulfilling experience. I can have an amazing emotional experience. Just by sitting on my butt and investing in a new TV show or a new movie. And so we who are in the live performance sector, mm-hmm.
[00:32:17] have to figure out how do we tell people that you should prioritize this live experience at the same time and money that we are asking you to do. , and that’s really important. That’s a really hard thing for us to do and we have to figure out. But that’s, I mean, and us in theater, we need to be looking at all of these other industries that are similar but different.
[00:32:42] So how do sports engage their audiences? How do concert acts engage their audiences? Audiences? It’s, you know, I, we, we were talking about this before we went on the air, but right now coming out of Covid, Certain businesses around the country are [00:33:00] doing record-breaking business, theater, touring, concerts, touring are doing great business.
[00:33:06] And that’s because people are understand that there is, there is. It is worth their time in their money to have this experience in a room with a thousand or 2000 other people that they could not have in the isolation of their own.
[00:33:22] Rodney Veal: Right. Because we are social creatures by nature, human beings, we have to have that interaction.
[00:33:28] And there’s something about laughing and crying and stillness with a group that feels so good. It’s so satisfying. Totally. That I had forgotten that, you know? And Covid took that away from me. I think actually we were, we were on the stage at the Schuster Center naming, renaming the organiz. The day the governor shut it down.
[00:33:50] Oh. So I’m still, I was like I could see the president of the board and the c e o. They’re looking at me and we’re rehearsing. I said, what do we do? I said, we’re going to announce it. I [00:34:00] was, I was just new to the board and I said, and then we’re quietly gonna walk away and, and figure it out. That was three years ago.
[00:34:08] So I I to your point, it’s like figuring it out that now, We went through this journey of thinking that people wouldn’t come back, but they are coming back and they’re wanting it and they’re hungry for it. . It’s just how to figure out, and especially, and this is important for those who are listening who are producers of, of art in their own right and other fields and disciplines.
[00:34:28] It has to be a consideration of the new landscape. And I know that you had an interview. You, you, you had an interview with Jo Deer and you guys talked about that on stage. Do you kind of remember that conversation about, I think someone asked you the question about what’s, what, what’s theater gonna look?
[00:34:44] What, what is Broadway gonna look like in the future? because of the things that have occurred?
[00:34:49] Joey Monda: Oh, no, I don’t remember that because my answer, my answer, my answer vacillates on a daily basis on what it’s gonna look like. ,
[00:34:58] Rodney Veal: you didn’t think I was gonna, you didn’t think I was [00:35:00] gonna go that deep, did you? I was like, I, I asked people Joy.
[00:35:02] I really kind of like, okay, let me, I didn’t
[00:35:05] Joey Monda: realize this. Barbara Walters or Jonathan Swan interview. You really went deep into your, your background. Well, no, I mean, I think, look, there are people who everybody can always catastrophize, right? And people have been fearing the end of whatever business or whatever media they’re in for hundreds of years.
[00:35:27] The, the radio feared the television, television feared films. Like I am certainly not in the catastrophic place where Broadway is gonna cease to exist. . But there are some major structural changes that theater has to undergo in order to enjoy longevity and in order to maximize its potential. And that’s a real thing and that’s a real thing I that I I think is a cata.
[00:35:54] There is a potential for catastrophe if we don’t take it seriously enough. But [00:36:00] we’re in any of every, every business has generational tension where the next generation is frustrated by the gatekeepers and the old guard, and feels that they have new and innovative. Initiatives that they want to implement, and the old guard is slow to take it up and it’s slow to adopt these new ideas and everything.
[00:36:18] And so that’s not new. We’re having that same theater and theater. Oh, that same conversation in theater film is having that same conversation. Mm-hmm. , everybody’s having that conversation. But all of us that are involved in any sort of art or storytelling, Have to figure out how do we talk to as wide of an audience as possible?
[00:36:37] How do we get our stories out to the people who are the most likely and the most desirous to get to hear them and receive them and are gonna be the most moved by them? And that’s a big thing that I’m sure you’re talking about at Dayton Live, of how do we diversify our audience, not just racial, not just racially, but also economically, gender wise.
[00:36:59] People of different [00:37:00] backgrounds. How do we get, how do we instill kids that, you know, this idea that going to the theater is important from a young age. All of those things and those problems which are not new to our generation of producer are huge. They are more important now than ever before because of how precarious what we’re doing is because it is expensive, it’s increasingly mm-hmm expensive both to produce and to attend.
[00:37:24] And with, so competitive content out there. You can, there’s so much competition for eyeballs. You wanna talk about a free market economy. You have to figure out how do you, how are you gonna incentivize that audience above anything else? And so that’s all exactly, that’s all overwhelming, but really exciting to me because I think there’s a lot of really amazing people that.
[00:37:48] Looking at those questions head on and are as equally excited by coming up to those obstacles and figuring out how to face them.
[00:37:57] Rodney Veal: I love it and I, I love the fact that you, you flip the [00:38:00] catastrophic to the positive, which is such a Midwestern thing to do. That’s what we do. But also I think about, I think it’s Midwestern, but I think it’s an artists, I think it’s truly, generally in your art artists, we just make do with what’s happening.
[00:38:12] Like gimme. Keep you four feet of space and I gotta dance. Here we go.
[00:38:16] Joey Monda: In my business, I have no choice but to be optimistic and, the hopeful optimist because the finance, like the e the economics of theater make very little sense from a financial perspective.
[00:38:27] We just have to figure things out. That, and I, I do truly believe, because I know that the experiences that I have had, and I know there are more people like me that are out there, they may not love it as much as I do, but I know that there is the story for the right person at the right time, that they need to hear it at that moment in their life.
[00:38:45] And that’s gonna create a really life-changing experience for an individual.
[00:38:52] Rodney Veal: I love it. And so for those, those folks out there in the hinderlands, what would be your advice to be [00:39:00] enter into this world?
[00:39:01] I mean, you’re in it and so, and you’re, and you’re loving it and it’s not about the success. I think sometimes we overrate success and happiness. You’re happy, you’re a joyous guy.
[00:39:12] Joey Monda: Success is different for every individual and I have to, I constantly have that internal demonn as well, that’s looking at other peers of mine at different places of their own career and their own paths and I ha it, it success is absolutely.
[00:39:25] Subjective to each individual. But the thing that keeps me going, no matter how high or low I feel, it is an unabashed and unapologetic enthusiasm and passion for what I do. And so I think that is a huge thing, and that if somebody has, if you have any, whatever that passion in your life might be you have to trust.
[00:39:44] If you are passionate enough about it, you will find ways to make it a career. You figure out ways to be resourceful and how to just find, connect one opportunity into the next, into the next. And the other part of that just pure [00:40:00] passion is, Never being afraid to learn and just completely immerse yourself in what you want to do.
[00:40:07] I always say, you know, there’s that, that cliche of dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have. and that’s, I I very much believe that in theater, which is, you know, or in any of the arts mm-hmm. live the life that you want to have, not the one that you ha that you are stuck in. There is, there is truth where if you start to really secret that and you really start to put that into the universe, things change and things, it, it won’t happen fast, but.
[00:40:38] that those circumstances will start to change and you will start to look at different things that happen in your life as opportunities for growth and as opportunities for extension. And you know, that just ties in from one thing into the next, into the next to create a really beautiful line of of life, career success, professional and person.
[00:40:59] Rodney Veal: I [00:41:00] love it. I love it. That is the best advice that we could give. That’s why the podcast is called Inspired By. I want, you know, and you, and I’m hoping folks are inspired by your by Cause it is coming through and how you’re talking. I mean, you are, I’m watching the, the, the audience doesn’t have the benefit of watching you and you’re just.
[00:41:17] Animated and he’s in it and it’s like, folks, that, that just gets me going. I’m thinking, okay, I could do this. So
[00:41:23] Joey Monda: it’s the Italian, and I talk with my hands, .
[00:41:27] Rodney Veal: I, I’m a dancer. It’s all, I’m always doing this. I’m like, oh, it was like all of a sudden I’ve gone, you know, total BB Miller. So I got a couple questions for you.
[00:41:36] You are so immersed in this world of, of, of the arts. Anything that you’ve seen recently that just made you go, wow, that was pretty oppressive? I mean, I’m just kind of curious cuz I know what, what mine is, but I I’m kind of curious like what, what’s kind of sparked your interest?
[00:41:52] Something that just makes you go wow.
[00:41:53] Joey Monda: Well I am biased because I was a co-producer on it, but the recently now closed Broadway production of a Strange loop [00:42:00] I thought was yes. Okay. Artistically different and exciting. And I think that it’s one of, it’s a, one of those shows that we won’t really know how big of an impact it had for another 15 years.
[00:42:13] But I do think that we will look back on that moment in Broadway history and see a very clear turning turning point of the things we talk about in musicals and how we talk about them. And so a strange loop I think was artist. An outlier in something so unique, so exciting, and so special.
[00:42:31] Rodney Veal: I have a question about Strange Loop because I, I love the fact that what I know of the show, I was just like, this is, this is mind tripping genre bursting.
[00:42:44] On like lacking a categorization like I would reading it and going, I wouldn’t know how to describe this, but by God I wanna see it. It kind of remind, and so there seems to be this trend. And the reason why I said it, cuz my, my, my thing right now is everything everywhere, [00:43:00] all at once has just kind of blown my head, head open.
[00:43:03] I’m like, oh, oh, I, I, I found my love of cinema again. Yeah. Because of that movie. So I’m like, now I’m going to sing lots of films in theaters cuz I really wanna have the experience.
[00:43:15] Joey Monda: Yeah, both of those are great examples of imagine having that in idea in your head and having to explain it to somebody.
[00:43:25] Mm-hmm. like before. Now we have the thing is out there, we have the movie, we have at least the cast album. Yes, sir. You’ve seen the Broadway, like who sh it’s out there. You’ve seen clips. Yes. Right. But imagine that just being nothing more than an idea and having to describe that to somebody on what is in your head.
[00:43:42] It’s remarkable. It is truly remarkable to think of all of the. how some, how somebody could linearly come up with that and then sit down and actually put that on paper. Paper so that I could then read it or then somebody, a director could take that and put it on film. [00:44:00] It’s crazy. It’s truly crazy.
[00:44:02] Rodney Veal: And, and I think that, that there’s that trend towards now I, because look, give, put it in the timeline for me, like a strange loop is 20.
[00:44:12] Joey Monda: Yeah. So Strange Loop opened on Broadway in 22, but that was, you know, the Broadway production was the culmination of 20 years of development. Michael R. Jackson, the writer, had been working on that show since the early two thousands and Oh
[00:44:25] Rodney Veal: okay. That’s right.
[00:44:25] Joey Monda: That’s right. Okay. That Broadway production was just the, that, that moment of realization.
[00:44:32] for it. So it, it was a piece of work that was very personal to him in a number of ways, mm-hmm. . But he had been working with that, which is actually how I came, you know, initially met Michael and initially found the show was when I worked on a very early reading of it a number of years ago. But yeah, that, you know, that idea that it was something that he.
[00:44:51] So clearly new in his head and for 20 years did not stop pursuing it and did not get bored, or was [00:45:00] never, you know, never to the point of just, I’m gonna just shelve it and talk and look at something else. Right, right. That was something that was so, you know, that was so long in the making. So yes. Strange Loop opened on Broadway in 22.
[00:45:12] Okay. So
[00:45:13] Rodney Veal: there was, there was a, there definitely was a couple weeks ago. Just a couple weeks ago, which I saw, but it was, but I mean, the people who have seen it, cause I did talk to pistol folks in town who seen it. They raved. I mean, it was like they’re, they were like, it was bl, it blew my mind. And I was like, and they’re still processing it.
[00:45:31] So that tells me. It did what it was supposed to do, so I’m like, correct. Yes, yes, yes. Is, is there any way possible, speaking of film, is there any way possible of turning that into a movie ? I mean, I mean, I’m just throwing it out there.
[00:45:44] Joey Monda: Well, un unfortunately I don’t, we did not record. We did not do a live.
[00:45:49] Capture as we call it, in the business of the Broadway production. But that being said, Michael I know has a lot of conversations and is increasingly popular in the world of film and television, and so [00:46:00] I would not be surprised if in the next couple of years we hear of a major studio, a tour director deciding to figure out how to do a film adaptation.
[00:46:09] Rodney Veal: think that that would be awesome. I’m just throwing it out there. I agree with you. Right, . See that’s the whole thing. I’m like, so it is like, and so I always tell people all the time, and I, in our early listeners, it’s like you gotta be around other artists to kind of spark other ideas and just kind of throw them out there.
[00:46:24] So, I mean, that I, I just wanted to ask that question cuz I knew, you know, and I’m glad you brought up Strange Loop because that’s your second time. I mean, you really are like, Does it, do you just kind of ignore the fact that you’ve got these Tony Awards and really it’s just I love the work. That’s the added bonus.
[00:46:42] Kinda curious. A
[00:46:43] Joey Monda: thousand percent. I mean, again, none of us can, you can’t do anything in this business out for the desire of awards or anything because there’s so many things that are outside of your control. What’s the most important, like any art, is that you believe and are passionate and are proud of what you’re putting out there.
[00:46:58] And that what. [00:47:00] Putting your name on. And so that’s always first and foremost is the belief of that. We have no control over how, you know, awards are so finicky, it’s based, you know, do the reviewers and the does the, the, the nominating committee, is that the story they wanna hear that year? You don’t have any choice about a Broadway house.
[00:47:17] You know, when you get offered a theater for a show, you have to take it because otherwise you could be waiting for years and years and years. Years. Wow. So you don’t know what else you’re up against. There’s so many things about the awards, but ultimately here, what I will say that I appreciate about the what the awards do for me is that they are somewhat of a door opener to a lot of other people that don’t.
[00:47:38] that are not in our business regularly, that I can ultimately use it as somewhat of a calling card and that it does help make introductions or there is some sort of an assumed legitimacy that it provides for when I’m meeting new people that are not in the particularly potential investors or other people, you know, other artists.
[00:47:57] When I’m. Say, I want to tell this story [00:48:00] with you. It’s a, it’s a good thing that says, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve got experience doing it. And I have somewhat moderately good taste.
[00:48:10] Rodney Veal: Oh, I think it goes beyond moderately, but that’s the Midwestern in you. Joey, this has been a great conversation because I did know you before and I feel like the world is gonna, has come to know you a little bit more.
[00:48:21] So thank you for taking time outta your day.
[00:48:24] Joey Monda: Absolutely. I’m gonna actually be in Dayton in May for rehearsals for the human race theater production of Oh, really? That’s a new musical that I’m helping with develop with the.
[00:48:34] Rodney Veal: That is so crazy. Emily Wells just sent me an email saying, do you know of any actors who would, who would wanna do this role?
[00:48:41] Because I, you know, I know a few, I know a couple people , I know some people.
[00:48:45] Joey Monda: Yeah. We’re trying to make it, we’re trying to really get a, get a hometown feel for it and everything. So I’ll be there. I’m really excited. I was just with Emily here in New York last week and I’m really excited to be in Dayton for a lot of May as we get the show up.
[00:48:56] Oh, I
[00:48:57] Rodney Veal: love it. So, okay, so. You’re gonna be here in [00:49:00] May. Can we have a drink? ?
[00:49:02] Joey Monda: I We can absolutely have a drink. Absolutely.
[00:49:04] Rodney Veal: Okay. And I think Emily would love it too. So we get Emily and Kathy in there and it’ll be a love it. It’ll be just a party. . I absolutely love it. Small world folks. The arts small
[00:49:14] Joey Monda: world. I can get a little bit of a plug in there for the show too.
[00:49:17] Rodney Veal: I, I love that plug. That’s super awesome. . I love it. I just got that email. That’s so crazy. I get emails like that all the time, so I’m in that. I got. Realm of the world, which is fun for me. I just love be con being a connector. That’s all I, I love. I love my job. I love my
[00:49:33] Joey Monda: life. Second, that’s the sa, same, same exact feeling over here, Rodney, is that I can, I get no more fulfillment than when I can connect to really awesome people to go do something really awesome together.
[00:49:44] Rodney Veal: That’s great. Okay, well I’ll see you in May and our listeners will get to hear this experience and maybe do a little, where’s Joy Munda and Dayton, Ohio. Sort of like, like Where’s Waldo? All the theater groupies, all the kids, the theater kids will be out there going, how you [00:50:00] signed my book? You know, you don’t, don’t put it past them. . I love it. Thanks Joy so much. Appreciate it. Thanks, Rodney.