On any given morning, you can find me listening to a podcast or four. I listen from the second I get up in the morning and while I get ready, to when I’m getting my lesson plans organized for the day, and probably on my commute home. There’s just something about getting to hear other people’s stories—people who are so generous with their time to share their experience with you, that you feel connected to them. My love of podcasts started with The Theater People Podcast, and I definitely just ran through the entire outro as I typed this sentence. I listened to it since its first episode, and loved how Patrick Hinds truly loved what he was doing and to whom he was speaking. Ever since, I have gone to Patrick for all things Broadway. Any listener could tell that this experience for him went beyond curiosity or fandom; he genuinely wanted to connect with his listeners and his guests. Patrick now has six podcasts under Theater People Productions, and I still contend I am his biggest fan. Of his six podcasts, Broadway Backstory season two is about to go live, and I thought this would be the perfect time to catch up with him. We talk about inclusion, the work that goes into a podcast, and much more.
StageSLP: How did you get into theatre?
Patrick: I got into theatre when I was really young. I loved the woman who was in charge of our little theatre group at the elementary school and I just loved it. I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and there’s an amazing community theatre system there. I tried to work at all of the community theatres, and my high school drama club was really good. This was also where my friend base was. I started taking it more seriously in high school, and I’d go into Boston on the weekends to take classes. I went to a summer theatre program called Walnut Hill, which is a six-week intensive sleepaway program. It started out as a hobby and became more of an obsession. I continued it into college, and that’s when I realized that acting wasn’t the right fit for me, so I had to find another way into the community.
S: What got you interested in podcasting? You just sort of jumped into it.
P: I just kind of loved podcasts. In 2012, I just loved them. There was one called Downstage Center.
S: Yes! It used to be on the Broadway station on XM before it merged with Sirius!
P: Yes! With Howard Sherman and The American Theatre Wing. And I loved it and always figured someone would start that up again, but no one did. So, I decided I was going to do it simply because I wanted it to exist. I didn’t know anything about making a podcast or have any significant connection to the Broadway community. And this was before it was thing—there was one other theatre podcast out there. Now it’s really user-friendly to make a podcast, but then, it was all figure it out as you go.
S: Now that you say it, it was you and The Ensemblist, and I listened to you both then, the second they came out. Still do.
P: Yeah, it was just us then.
S: So, this was a real passion project for you, and you’ve now turned it into a full-time job. Would you encourage kids, or really anyone, to pursue passion projects like you did?
P: Oh for sure. Before it was my full-time job, it was the creative outlet I never knew I needed. The thing about passion projects, and I say this to people all the time, is that they’re not always fun. You can be passionate about something and love it, but when you’re really trying to make it happen, it’s a lot of work. When I started it, I really had to remind myself of that. I love theatre, I love the actors, I love interviewing people, but scheduling, researching, making the interviews happen, figuring out the tech—it’s a lot of work. When I committed to a schedule for Theater People, I held myself to it. It wasn’t always fun, but it was definitely the thing I leaned on when I was having a hard time in any situation. I knew I had this creative outlet that people were responding to that held me up. I cannot stress enough that people should pursue their passion projects, but hold yourself accountable for doing what people say they’re gonna do, and when it gets hard, you keep at it. There are always going to be peaks and valleys, and it’s so rewarding.
S: For someone starting out with her own website, I hear you. It’s work, but I love it.
P: Especially if you’re trying to attract a following, people have to know you’re gonna do what you say you’re gonna do.
S: It’s been a learning experience, but a really good one.
P: It’s all about discipline.
S: This blog would not exist if I hadn’t found Theater People when it came out. I feel like you were one of the first people to give your listeners a seat at the table—you let us send in questions in the beginning, and made us feel equal. How did you come to include us in your conversations?
P: I really did want listeners to feel involved and engaged, and I also wanted to make sure I had enough questions. Honestly, people really wanted to have access to these theatre stars and were sending me questions anyway. The same thing that attracted me to Downstage Center was attracting people to Theater People—accessibility—and I really wanted to give them that experience. I wanted to build the audience by having the audience engaged.
S: You’re getting ready for season two of Broadway Backstory and I can’t wait. I’ve missed this podcast so much, and I am all here for it. What can you tell us about it, and how is it different from Theater People?
P: Season two is a lot of dream shows I wanted to cover and people involved with the podcast wanted to cover. We’re doing two shows from this season, which was really exciting. We’re starting with Hamilton, Come From Away, Kinky Boots, Bonnie and Clyde, Light in the Piazza, Bring it On, and Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.
S: I voted for Bonnie and Clyde every day last season!
P: That’s one of my favorite shows of all time. What I love about this podcast is getting to talk to literally everyone involved in these shows and really get into how they were made from the idea to the actual production. Theater People is more focused on the guest I have on, what they’ve done, and Broadway Backstory is more of an in-depth look at these individual shows.
S: I think the best part about listening to any of your podcasts is your infectious enthusiasm for whatever you’re discussing, which just puts all of the listeners in the same mood. Do you always have that optimistic an outlook?
P: I would say there are days when I show up and I’m tired, but I’m really just an extrovert. The second someone else walks into the room, your energy is up. I’ve done a ton of research, I’ve seen the show they’re in, I’m excited to see them, and I genuinely have a lot of questions for them.
S: Your podcasts operate on collaboration with guests on most of your podcasts or your co-host Gillian Pensavalle of The Hamilcast for True Crime Obsessed. What advice do you have for kids who are just learning this skill?
P: It’s funny because I was just telling Gillian that you’d think I’d be more of a team player. I wanted to work for myself because I’m very specific about how I want things to be. Then I made a podcast for Disney and learned a lot about working with other people and companies. And working with Gillian has been incredible. We’re a naturally good fit, we’re both equally passionate, equally determined and we both really respect each other’s ideas. The key to working in groups would be, as Aaron Burr says, “Talk less, smile more.” Listen to everyone’s ideas, contribute the ideas that you have, and be flexible.
S: I love you guys together. I’ve told you both. I don’t know how you aren’t sick of me yet.
P: I love her, she’s so funny and I’m so glad we’re doing this. We have so much fun.
S: What have you learned from podcasting that you can apply to daily life, and what have you learned that you would want to pass on to your daughter, Daisy?
P: Podcasting has really been an exercise in learning how to listen, and that has really served me. Also, if you work really hard you can make something happen. The fact that I do this for a living now blows my mind every single day. I was a person who always had a job for the money, I didn’t necessarily like them. I’d hear people say “Follow your dream, do what you love,” and things like that. I think that can actually be really condescending sometimes, because it sort of comes from this place of privilege, and life circumstances don’t always allow for us to go after what we’re passionate about. Not everyone is in that position, so I feel very lucky and glad that I get to do that. For Daisy, I love that she knows these strong women, like Celia Keenan-Bolger, Laura Benanti, and Lesli Margherita. I love that these women care about her and ask about her and has these role models accessible to her.
S: I challenge my students and readers to do something that gets them outside of their comfort zone every week. What would you challenge them to do?
P: I think that getting outside your comfort zone is important. I think everyone has that one thing that they know they need to do, that they’re either afraid to do or they believe they can’t do it but it’s what they want or need to do. I would challenge people to do one thing to take a step towards accomplishing that goal.
At the top of every Theater People episode, Patrick starts by telling the guest how OBSESSED he is with them, and I think after this conversation, he knows that I am equally ALL CAPS OBSESSED with who he is and what he does for the community. I am so grateful I finally was able to tell him that had it not been for him and Theater People, I never would have started this blog. I cannot wait to see how my students and readers take on his challenge. Season two of Broadway Backstory is coming out on Tuesday, September 19th. You can find season one on all podcast platforms along with Theater People, BroadwayCon: The Podcast, The Broadway Podcast, True Crime Obsessed, and The Official Disney on Broadway Podcast on Apple podcasts and wherever podcasts are streamed. You can find him on social media @PatrickHinds, and be sure to check out the social media platforms for all of his podcasts.
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Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP