Witty actor and singer Jacob Keith Watson is making waves on the Broadway stages. He appeared as Enoch Snow in the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Carousel. Jacob has also been seen on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler, Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet starring Sutton Foster, Craig Lucas’ Amélie, as Joseph Buquet/Monsieur Reyer in The Phantom of the Opera, Robert Livingston in the acclaimed Encores! revival of 1776, as well as Amos Hart in the National/International tour of Chicago the Musical.
Regional and Opera credits include the title role in Shrek with the Sacramento Music Circus, Waldo/Video Store Clerk in Benny & Joon at the Papermill Playhouse, Rodolfo in La bohème, Beppe in Pagliacci, Frederic in Pirates of Penzance, Borsa in Rigoletto, as well as productions of HMS Pinafore, Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie, Seussical, Six Characters in Search of an Author, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Othello, and The Doctor in Spite of Himself.
Symphony engagements includes Kurt Weill on Broadway and New York, New York both with Maestro James Holmes and the Kurt Weill foundation and the tenor soloist in Elijah, Messiah, and Carmina Burana. Jacob is an Arkansas native and proud past winner of the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition, the NATS National Music Theatre Competition and a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
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00:00:09] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider's view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and downs of risk taking.
00:00:26] KM: Before I introduce my guest today, I want to let you know, if you miss any part of today's show, want to hear it again or share it, there's a way. And son Gray will tell you how.
00:00:34] GM: All UIYB past and present interviews are available at Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy's YouTube channel, Facebook page, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s digital version, flagandbanner.com’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts, just ask your smart speaker to play Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. And by subscribing to our YouTube channel or flagandbanner.com’s email list, you will receive prior notification of that discussed. Back to you, Kerry.
00:01:01] KM: Thank you again, Gray. My guest today is the Broadway actor Mr. Jacob Keith Watson, who is back in his home state and working in Little Rock’s Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Production of Into the Woods.
The play began April 19th and runs through May 15th with Watson as the leading male character, the baker. In reading Jacob's bio, it looks like this acting gig may be his first performance of I the Woods, but it is far from his first time on stage. At my last count, Jacob has acted in 15 plays across the work spectrum of Broadway, national tours and regional theater. To name a few and some you'll likely recognize, Carousel, Hello Dolly, Phantom of the Opera and Chicago. I love how he is and other actors’ resumes are unlike that of a traditional application for a job. At the top of the page it lists his height, weight, eye color, hair color and voice range. In no way could I ask those questions to a prospective hired Arkansas Flag & Banner. So, Mr. Jacob Keith Watson is five feet nine inches tall.
00:02:10] JKW: That’s right. Sure, five foot nine, wink, wink.
00:02:13] KM: Oh! 200 pounds, blond hair, blue eyes and sings a baritenor high C. It is my pleasure to welcome to the table the hard-working performance artist, actor, baritenor and lead male role of Into the Woods at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Mr. Jacob Keith Jackson.
00:02:33] JKW: Hello.
00:02:34] KM: That sounds just like a theater voice, doesn’t it? So, you look just like a baker. And you said you're a baker at heart.
00:02:42] JKW: I am. Yeah.
00:02:43] KM: So, you're from Arkansas.
00:02:44] JKW: I am originally from Wynne, Arkansas.
00:02:46] KM: What do your parents do?
00:02:47] JKW: They're both retired now. My dad was – For a long time, he coached football at Truman High School in Truman, Arkansas.
00:02:54] KM: I bet you played football.
inaudible 00:02:54]. You played defense.
00:02:56] JKW: I did play football. Quite a bit of football. I was actually offense.
00:02:57] KM: Really? On the offense line?
00:03:00] JKW: And we had a very interesting offence. I was on the offensive line, yeah, yeah. And so, after coaching football, he was the principal of my high school for quite a while.
00:03:07] GM: Ain't that just Arkansas?
00:03:08] JKW: It’s so Arkansas. And then my mom was a teacher at the school as well.
00:03:13] KM: Kids of teachers grow up to be the best kids. We've had lots of people on here who are teachers’ kids.
00:03:20] JKW: Make sense to me.
00:03:21] KM: Yeah. They know how to teach kids. You know, they should teach parenting in school, in my opinion, because I was in shock when I had my first kid. And my daughter hates this when I say this, but I'm going to say it anyway. We call her the burnt pancake. Because you know how the first one you throw out because you're kind of learning? You’re kind of testing?
00:03:40] GM: Yeah, she hates that.
00:03:41] JKW: You still eat it. But you know – Yeah.
00:03:44] KM: But you learn on the first one, you know? But teachers actually – Yes. But teachers actually learn how to parent as a college degree. So, you just end up with these great parents. Do you have any siblings? I hope they have more.
00:03:58] JKW: I have two older sisters.
00:03:59] KM: What do they do? Are they actors?
00:04:00] JKW: They’re both speech pathologist.
00:04:03] KM: Oh, teachers.
00:04:03] JKW: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
00:04:06] KM: So, did you always want to be an actor?
00:04:09] JKW: No. I think it kind of hit when I was between junior and senior year of high school I saw production of Les Mis at the Orpheum in Memphis. And I saw – I was like, “Oh, that
guy looks like a linebacker, and he's singing really high. And he's got a big beard. I think I could do that.” And so, that's kind of what sparked the whole thing for me was seeing that production.
And I've done some shows in high school and stuff like that. And all of my teachers and everything were so supportive and wonderful, but that was the moment that switched the flip for me.
00:04:37] KM: You could always sing.
00:04:38] JKW: In some way. I sing in church some, and then I sing in choir starting probably sophomore year of high school.
00:04:44] KM: I don't think people realize that you can learn to sing.
00:04:46] JKW: Oh, yeah. Anybody.
00:04:47] KM: Anybody can learn. You might not sing like Whitney Houston.
00:04:50] JKW: Yeah, but you can sing.
00:04:52] KM: Yeah, I wish I'd have known that, because I love to sing, but I sing terrible because I don't ever do it. So, I highly recommend that people sing as – When you're into music in junior high, just join some choir and sing in school.
00:05:06] JKW: Why not? Why not?
00:05:09] KM: So, did your mother teach you to do that? Is a teaching mother the best teacher?
00:05:12] JKW: No. She was a business teacher. She taught business classes and computer classes and stuff like that.
00:05:18] KM: So, I bet she doesn't like you're an actor. She’s like, “Honey, that’s not very stable.”
00:05:22] JKW: No. They are incredibly supportive. They've always been – Never once made me feel like I shouldn't go into this business. I'm very lucky in that way.
00:05:31] KM: Did you go to college for I it?
00:05:32] JKW: I did. I went to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. Studied musical theater down there. And then moved to New York after that.
00:05:40] KM: You've been in New York ever since?
00:05:41] JKW: Yeah.
00:05:43] GM: What is it about OBU and training good musicians?
00:05:46] JKW: I don't know. That's why I went there in the first place. It was like it was the only musical theater degree when I was coming out of high school in the state. It might still be. I'm not sure. And they just had such great teachers. So many good voice teachers.
00:06:00] GM: In Arkadelphia.
00:06:01] JKW: Yes. Very shocking. But great, great education. Great training.
00:06:06] KM: Well, there is a close relationship between religion and theater.
00:06:10] GM: And there's a lot both in Arkadelphia.
00:06:12] JKW: That’s correct.
00:06:13] KM: I mean, OBU is a Baptist –
00:06:15] JKW: Right. Correct.
00:06:16] KM: And you can’t barely be a preacher without having some performing talents. I mean, really. You can’t get – I mean, I’m not trying to dish on – But how did religion even begin? Didn't it begin –
inaudible 00:06:26]. Performance. Yeah.
00:06:28] KM: Yeah. And I mean, who wants to dress up in all those outfits anyway? Unless in you're theatre. I mean, we’re Episcopalians. So, those guys all wear dresses.
00:06:37] JKW: Oh, yeah.
00:06:39] GM: Costumes and props.
00:06:40] JKW: Oh, yeah. The whole thing. The whole thing.
00:06:43] GM: Rigamarole.
00:06:42] JKW: Aha.
00:06:44] KM: It is quite a production on Easter Day. That's right. So, you left right out of college. Went straight up to New York.
00:06:54] JKW: I spent a few months in Shreveport, Louisiana, working with the Shreveport Opera as a young artist.
00:07:00] KM: You sing that good that you can sing opera. You learned to sing that good.
00:07:02] JKW: Well, it’s been a while since I’ve sung that way. But at one point in time in my life, I could sing like that, yeah. And now I do mostly theater stuff.
00:07:12] KM: Do you still live in New York?
00:07:13] JKW: Yeah. Well, we live right outside of New York. We're in New Jersey. We moved out. We bought a house out in New Jersey four or five years ago.
00:07:21] KM: You have to listen to New Jersey jokes all the time?
00:07:23] JKW: Yes. People think New Jersey is awful. And if you talk to people and all your friends in New York City, they think it's terrible. And then they get out there and they see how beautiful it is once you get past the initial industrial park right next to the city. And it's gorgeous. It's called the Garden State. You know what I mean?
00:07:39] KM: Yes. Lined with trees. The streets are lined with trees.
00:07:41] JKW: Yeah, exactly. It's beautiful.
00:07:43] KM: Old houses.
00:07:43] JKW: So, they kind of shut up once they visit. You know what I mean? They leave us alone once they come out.
00:07:49] KM: So, you've lived in New York all through the pandemic.
00:07:53] JKW: Well, so, luckily we were right outside the city. We were in New Jersey. So, I didn't have – It wasn't as complicated as it was for a lot of my friends who were still dead. Like, stuck in the city.
00:08:04] KM: What your wife do?
00:08:05] JKW: She's an interior designer.
00:08:07] KM: You both have unstable jobs.
00:08:08] JKW: Correct.
00:08:11] GM: Yeah, but that was super fun for y'all.
00:08:14] JKW: Well, we renovated our house. She was still working in a real estate capacity at the time. She was doing staging for a real estate team during that period. And that picked up. That was wild. And so, I kind of – I turned towards. I helped her a lot. I helped her move and do installs and stuff like that. And then also renovate our house.
00:08:35] KM: Do you have children?
00:08:36] JKW: No kids. Two cats, Lucci and Ophelia.
00:08:40] KM: Oh, opera.
00:08:41] JKW: Exactly. Exactly.
00:08:43] KM: So, son Gray has been meaning to ask you this about your voice. You’re called a baritenor.
00:08:48] JKW: Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.
00:08:49] GM: Oh, yeah, we were going to talk about this. So, somebody used that term with me once. He was the conductor. I think still is the conductor for Opera Philadelphia. And he's this extremely eccentric Italian man. And he asked me what voice part I sing. I told him I did church music. And I told him, I was like, “Well, I'm kind of like a high baritone, low tenor.” And in this just crazy, thick accent, he’s like, “Ah! A baritenor.” And I was like, “Is that a real thing?” And he's really eccentric. So, I just went with it. And then never heard it again until I saw it on your paper. I just think it's a funny word that somebody actually uses. Or it’s funny because nobody actually uses that word. Yeah. It’s good though.
00:09:28] JKW: Yeah, it's interesting. That word, kind of like it started probably – It's been around for just a little while, but really now it's like a real thing. Because there's like musical theater tenor, which is kind of –
00:09:43] GM: Which I felt like was more derogatory than baritenor. Yeah. Oh, you're a musical theater tenor.
00:09:48] JKW: Yeah. It's got the different sounds. It’s like a different kind of thing.
00:09:52] KM: Wait. So, which one's higher?
00:09:54] GM: They're both kind of unofficial terms. So –
00:09:57] JKW: Right. Yeah. They're kind of made up terms. It's interesting, because if I were doing opera, my voice would have landed – Definitely, I would just be a tenor. If I was doing opera, my voice is definitely tenorial. But if I were in the musical theater world, they don't really have tenors like that anymore. They don't write songs like that classical kind of sound anymore. So now, I'm called a baritenor because I have a heavier sound to my voice than most tenors in the musical theater do. And I can kind of fake a baritone sound. So therefore, I'm a baritenor.
00:10:28] KM: So, you wrote you wrote on your resume high C. Gray, what would you call yourself?
00:10:33] GM: Maybe a baritenor with like a high A on a good day. Yeah, you know?
00:10:37] JKW: Well, see, that's the thing too, is baritenor is so – It’s so inclusive.
00:10:41] GM: It’s a funny word.
00:10:41] KM: Is that lower?
00:10:42] GM: Yeah, a little bit lower.
00:10:44] JKW: Yeah, there’s like a lower version and a higher version. It’s very strange.
00:10:47] KM: You can tell I know a lot about music. All right, this a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the performing artist, Mr. Jacob Keith Watson, in town to play the role as baker in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production Into the Woods, a Stephen Sondheim play. Still to come, the play’s premise, the
play’s use of local talent, and the fun local twist, the director, Addie Gorlin-Han, has added to the stage production. It's a surprise. We'll be right back.
00:11:23] GM: You're listening to up in your business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed along with Kerry's experience and leadership knowledge.
In 1995, she embraced the Internet and rebranded her company as simply flagandbanner.com. In 2004, she became an early blogger. Since then, she has founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. Began publishing her magazine, Brave. And in 2016, branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast.
In 2020, Kerry McCoy enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com, an online company specializing in American-made plaques, signage and memorials for over 20 years. And more recently, opened a satellite office in Miami, Florida. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.
00:12:23] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Mr. Jacob Keith Watson, the lead actor in the Arkansas Repertory’s Theatre production Into the Woods. All right, Mr. Jacob Keith Watson – So, why do we use all three of your names to confuse dyslexic people like me?
00:12:42] JKW: Well, for one reason, for a very purely practical reason. When I went to join the Actors Union, there was already a Jacob Watson on the list. And so, I had to then find another option. And I consider Jacob Keith – Keith is my father's name. It's also my proper middle name.
00:12:58] KM: Is there a J.K. Watson?
00:13:01] JKW: No, but I was afraid of being –
00:13:01] KM: Sounds like a writer.
00:13:02] JKW: Yeah, the J.K. Rowling and J.K. Simmons, who I do love. But I kind of wanted – It was like, “Yeah, he can have that. That's his thing. We're both redheaded bald guys
inaudible 00:13:12]. You know what I mean? I don't want to confuse anyone anymore. And then the other thing was most of my favorite actors used all three names. So I was like, “Okay, I'll just do all three of them. Why not?”
00:13:23] KM: Before we talk about the actors in the play, let's talk about – Tell our listeners what the premise of the show is. It's a medley of fairy tales.
00:13:32] JKW: Correct. So, the first half is very much all of these famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales kind of interwoven into – It's like, what if all of this happened in one forest? You know what I mean? And everyone's wishes, and everyone's dreams and hopes, they all come true in the first half. And then in the second half, you deal with the consequences of getting what you asked for, which is not always a good thing. And so, the second half kind of is more the reality of what happens in the real world when everything goes right in the first half. What actually happens in the world? So, it's a really interesting – Be sure to stick around for the second half, because I know some people are like, “Oh, that was lovely. I did it. The plays over. Everyone's happy. And everyone's good.” But there is a second half.
00:14:19] KM: Why are plays and movies so long these days?
00:14:22] JKW: That's a great question.
00:14:25] KM: Did you go see go Batman?
00:14:27] JKW: I haven't seen it yet. No, but it's on HBO Max, and I was going to watch it the other night. I was like, “It’s three hour long.”
00:14:31] KM: You didn't have half a day –
00:14:33] JKW: I'm fine. Yeah, I'm going to give it some time. But the truth is, is if it's – The thing I always say is if it's really important, and it's really telling a story, and it's really of quality work, you won't even notice that it's been three hours.
00:14:51] KM: I don't know. I get stoved-up sitting around for three hours. I don't care how good it is.
00:14:54] JKW: You'd be surprised. I watched a production, there's a play called Long Day's Journey into Night, which is by Eugene O'Neill. I saw a production of it with Jessica Lange, and Michael Shannon. And it was four and a half hours long. And I went to a student matinee. I was there. It was at the Roundabout Theatre, and it was just me and a bunch of high school kids. And those high school kids were enthralled for four and a half hours.
00:15:16] KM: What’s the name of it?
00:15:16] JKW: Long Day's Journey into Night. Gorgeous play. But it's long. But that's what I mean, if it's done well, and it's quality, and it's really telling the story, you'd be surprised what you'd sit through.
00:15:28] KM: So, I didn't realize this. All of the fairy tales are Grimm?
00:15:33] JKW: In some version, yeah. The baker and the baker's wife are not. It's harder to track where they came from. They don't really fall neatly into any of the fairytales.
00:15:42] KM: I was going to ask you, are they part of Rapunzel Rapunzel?
00:15:46] JKW: No, they're not. They're not really a part of any of those.
00:15:48] KM: So, they're just not a fairy tale at all.
00:15:51] JKW: There is one. There is a thing. And they're kind of loosely based on a couple of different fairy tales combined into one. And it's really kind of the device you follow
throughout the show, is these two people. And they're kind of like the – There's the fairy tales going on. And then they're kind of like, “What's the harder
00:16:12] KM: Yes. So, the baker and the baker's wife are the center point through the whole movie, and you're the baker. And then all these fairy tales come in, like you're saying, interject junctions throughout the movie. And the fairy tales are Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel. Is that all of them?
00:16:36] JKW: Yeah. And then you also have all of the princes involved with Cinderella and all of that. And somewhere along the way, Snow White and sleeping beauty sneak in. And the characters are not actually there, but they're discussed at some point. And to be clear, it is very much a massive ensemble of people that make this thing happen.
The baker and the baker's wife just don't happen to be actual fairy tales. They kind of have more of a human story that happens through it. There's not really a lot of magic that happens with them. Whereas everyone else has like magical things that happen. So, that’s kind of the differentiation.
00:17:11] KM: And the reason it's called Into the Woods is because all of these characters go into the woods.
00:17:14] JKW: Yeah, in order to get your wish, you have to go into the woods to find these things. And they all butt heads and collide.
00:17:22] KM: Do y'all use the woods? Or do you use a library in the production of the play?
00:17:26] JKW: We use both. We've got both.
00:17:28] KM: So, this is really interesting. Addie Gorlin-Han, the director, decided to start to play in the library, which is not in the original movie.
00:17:38] JKW: Right.
00:17:38] KM: Talk about that.
00:17:40] JKW: Yeah. So, the original concept is very much a fairy tale. It's just kind of the story and they go into the woods. And that's the thing. Addie is really passionate about using local things to tell whatever story they're telling. And she chose the Clinton Children's Library, the Hillary Clinton Children's Library, as the location for this specific story. Since it's a story book, it's the fairy tales, it's all about books, and all of this stuff. So, there is a through line for books in the library. And we use a lot of book props, and puppets are made out of books and all kinds of fun things in that way.
But she wanted to use something extremely local to this area to tell the story and to make the setting for people to be like, “Oh, I recognize that thing. I've seen that thing before.” Meanwhile, everything's covered in vines. There's fog everywhere. And it feels like the woods. But the architecture is very much of the Hillary Clinton Children's Library.
00:18:40] KM: And the first act is short.
00:18:43] JKW: Yeah.
00:18:43] KM: If you go on – So, for our listeners, if you go online and you go to therep.com. And she did a little YouTube video on there. And she talks about the set, and she talks about everything you just said. And she says in that clip that it's more. To me, when the movie that I watched before I came here with all the famous actors, which we'll talk about, was pretty much equal – I would say the first act was longer than the second act. But she flipped it. She made the first act shorter than the second act? It's what she says or referred to. Have you noticed that?
00:19:22] JKW: No, I haven't really paid much attention to the length of any of it.
00:19:26] KM: She said the emphasis is on the second half because it's where the teaching comes in and
00:19:30] JKW: That’s correct. Yeah, I do agree with that. The first half is very much the stories you know. Everything happens the way you think it's going to happen to an extent.
There's lots of fun surprises along the way. But everybody gets what they want. Everybody gets their wish. Everybody gets the thing they were chasing.
00:19:44] GM: The happily ever after.
00:19:45] JKW: The happily ever after. And then the second half is the part where, like she said, the teaching comes in, where the information that you need to walk away from the theater with comes in. And so, it hits a little harder and hits in a little deeper way than the first half does.
00:20:00] KM: So, Gray, you played this part in school.
00:20:01] JKW: Oh, yeah?
00:20:02] GM: Sort of.
00:20:02] KM: He was the baker.
00:20:04] GM: So, you're familiar with Into the Woods JR.?
00:20:06] JKW: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
00:20:06] GM: Yeah. Where they consolidate the first half into like a PG version. And then the whole show ends with the happy ending. Yes. Yeah. In my junior year of high school, I did the baker.
00:20:15] JKW: Oh, fun.
00:20:15] GM: Yeah. I know, right? It’s a good play. It's a good role. It's really fun. But I had no context for what Into the Woods JR. was in relation to the real show. So, when I finally kind of like looked into it after all that was done, I was like, “Oh, this is so much more dark and interesting than the children’s version.”
00:20:32] JKW: Yeah, totally.
00:20:33] KM: So, the children's version stops after the first act, the happily ever –
00:20:36] GM: Yeah, in terms of the story. Yeah.
00:20:38] KM: And then the second half is what we're going to get to see at the rep and what you see in the movie.
00:20:46] GM: The real – Yeah. And the sort of original version.
00:20:46] JKW: And I will say something that Addie is really passionate about is, of course, to a certain age, she wants this production to be available to almost all ages. So, she doesn't think you should talk down to children when you're teaching them. You should talk to them as though this is reality. This is the way things actually are. And she wants this production to be that for people with young kids and young families to bring their kids and not feel afraid to stay for the second half. To nobody be afraid to stay for the second half. It gets dark. There are things that happen. But that's life. That’s the way it is. And it's really important, I think.
00:21:24] KM: So, what's your lead song?
00:21:26] JKW: There's the big song at the end of act two.
00:21:28] KM: You've changed?
00:21:29] JKW: Well, so, there's that one, which is called It Takes Two, which is the one to do with my wife, which is my favorite number in the show. I love doing it with the superstar Simone Rose, who's playing my wife, the baker's wife. She's unreal. But that's probably my favorite number to do in the show. And then the other big number I sing is at the end of act two. It's called No More.
00:21:52] KM: Are y'all going to sing together that song?
00:21:54] GM: Absolutely not. I don’t remember – Also, I don’t remember any of the words.
00:21:57] KM: You know, what I love about Into the Woods? The harmony. There are so many nice harmony –
00:22:02] JKW: So many harmonies. So beautiful.
00:22:03] GM: Sondheim is good at that. I mean, Sondheim is good at that. All his shows have interesting harmonies, fun melodies.
00:22:09] JKW: Yeah. And lots of words. So many words.
00:22:14] KM: Giants in the sky.
00:22:16] JKW: Classic.
00:22:17] GM: See? You’re singing.
00:22:18] KM: I can do one line.
00:22:19] JKW: You did it. That was it. That was it. And Our Jack is Fabulous. He sings the mess out of that song.
00:22:26] KM: Oh, Your Jack is Fabulous. How old is he?
00:22:28] JKW: I think he's a senior at Little Rock Central, I want to say.
00:22:30] KM: Is he short or tall?
00:22:31] JKW: Tall.
00:22:32] KM: Well, how can you have a tall Jack?
00:22:33] GM: He was the best person in that photo, it seems like. Yeah, he’s awesome.
00:22:37] JKW: It’s great. Stand next to him and I'm like, “Hey, kid.”
00:22:39] KM: So, if you watch the Disney Channel, I couldn't believe the people that were in the movie. If you watched the Disney version, James Corden plays the baker, which you’re playing. Emily Blunt is his wife. Anna Kendrick is Cinderella. And then Christine, I don't know how – Here's one of these names I don't know how to say. Baranski?
00:22:57] JKW: Yep, that's it.
00:22:58] KM: Yeah. And then you've seen her everywhere. And then Chris Pine is the prince in the movie. God! He’s so hot.
00:23:08] GM: Well.
00:23:09] KM: Have y’all seen? Gray –
00:23:11] GM: I can't remember.
00:23:13] KM: He's not aging as well as he was when it was showing. I just watched a movie of him the other day. Every time I see his name I’m like, “I'm going to go watch him.” Well, you know, something with those really hot guys.
00:23:21] GM: I hope you're not listening, Chris Pine.
00:23:25] KM: He's still fine. Don't get me wrong, but he was so hot in this show. And then Meryl Streep is the witch. How awesome is that? Johnny Depp is The Wolf, of course. Perfect typecasting. And Tracey Ullman.
00:23:38] JKW: Yeah.
00:23:40] KM: And Josh Brolin was in there somewhere. And I don't even know where he was in the movie. But there are so many people that put this production on. Are you using this many people in your play?
00:23:50] JKW: Oh, yeah.
00:23:50] KM: How many people are in it?
00:23:52] JKW: On stage, I think we have – I haven't counted, but somewhere between 20 and 23 people on stage plus our off-stage understudies.
00:24:00] KM: So, should we go ahead and tell them who the giant’s wife is?
00:24:05] JKW: I think we have to. It's Hillary Clinton.
00:24:09] KM: Is in the play.
00:24:11] JKW: Hillary Clinton.
00:24:11] KM: She's not in it. It’s her voice.
00:24:12] JKW: She’s not – It's your voiceover. Yeah, yeah. Surprise.
00:24:14] KM: So, she comes in from –
00:24:16] JKW: All the speakers.
00:24:18] KM: And it makes so much sense that Addie, the director, loved Hillary Clinton's Library. Where's Addie from?
00:24:24] JKW: She's originally from Minnesota.
00:24:26] KM: Well, she loved Little Rock. She just spouted on about how much –
00:24:29] JKW: She’s so passionate about it. Yeah.
00:24:31] KM: Aha. And she loved Little Rock. She's has a lot of local cast members. And she loved Hillary Clinton's Library. And then trying to tie it all together, asked Hillary for cameo. And she said okay.
00:24:44] JKW: Exactly. Ain’t that incredible?
00:24:47] KM: Yes.
00:24:47] JKW: Yeah, yeah. So cool.
00:24:50] KM: Did you know –
00:24:50] JKW: Will Trice? The artistic director.
00:24:53] KM: Did you know Will Trice from New York before?
00:24:54] JKW: We knew of each other. We've known each other for a few years because he was in New York for a long time. But we never really crossed paths, but we followed each other on all the social media and all that kind of stuff. There's like a weird Spidey sense with all the people who make theater when you're from Arkansas originally. If out doing it, you kind of have a thing where you're weirdly connected. And yeah, I'd never met him or really chatted with him prior to this. But I'm so grateful that I was able to come back and do this.
00:25:25] KM: So does he – Who cast the people? The actors?
00:25:28] JKW: I think there's two casting directors. There's a local casting director, Felicia Dinwiddie, who is the company manager and casting associate for the rep. And then there's a gentleman named Jason Styres who is a New York casting director that they've used to help bring in some of the New York talent.
00:25:47] KM: How do you apply for this job? How do you go
inaudible 00:25:49] tape?
00:25:50] JKW: It’s kind of all over the place. Yeah, it's kind of different depending on the job. Nowadays, it's mostly videos. Prior to COVID, I would say it was mostly you go in-person. They send you some – Your agent submits you for the job. And then the casting director kind of whittles down who they want to bring in. And then from there, it's kind of up to the director and
the artistic director to decide who they want to do the show. But then you would come in with audition materials and do it.
But the way we do it now is you send in a video. And if they want to see you in-person, then you maybe come back for a callback. But a lot of times, they'll just say, “Hey, try it this way.” And then you send another tape in. So yeah, yeah, it's interesting.
00:26:29] KM: You like it better or worse?
00:26:30] JKW: I personally really like doing videos, because I can just do it and leave it. I don't have to go into the city.
00:26:36] KM: And you can redo it and redo it.
00:26:38] JKW: You can, yeah. I think that the trap of them is that if you keep going, sometimes you just get stuck and you just keep doing it. And you’re banging your head against the wall. Exactly. So, most of the time, I try to do three or four takes. And then what I ended up using 99% of the time is the first one I did anyways.
00:26:59] KM: Do you get the script? How far in advance?
00:27:02] JKW: When actually doing the show?
00:27:03] KM: Mm-hmm.
00:27:04] JKW: It kind of depends. Sometimes you get it a couple of days before. Sometimes you get it a month or so before.
00:27:10] KM: There's so much to memorize. How do you do that?
00:27:12] JKW: I know. It's tricky.
00:27:13] KM: So, you can't be an actor unless you have a great ability to memorize stuff?
00:27:17] JKW: It's definitely part of the skill set that's necessary. Some people are better at it than others. But I would say, in some form, it's a good brain exercise to be able to memorize.
00:27:30] KM: If you don't say it exactly like it's written, does the director get mad if you get in there and ad lib a word or two because you can't remember it right?
00:27:39] JKW: It kind of depends on who you're working with. Generally, no. But there is a certain amount of honor and integrity you want to bring to the piece. As an actor, I think it's part of your job to do your best to bring the intent of what was written word for word. Sometimes the brain just goes away. We call that going into the white room where you're just, “What? What am I doing?” And so, you just start making things up and trying to get back on track in some form. So, it happens. But you do your best to memorize.
00:28:07] KM: Does it happen live?
00:28:09] JKW: Oh, yeah. Well, that's why we call it the white room because you're just –
00:28:12] KM: Glaring.
00:28:15] JKW: Gone. But yeah. So, the goal always is to be word for word for what the original intent was.
00:28:19] KM: So, when did you get this script?
00:28:22] JKW: I got the script, I want to say, three weeks, four weeks before we started, before I started this. I was in the middle – I was doing another show at the time out in Berkeley, California. And so, I worked a little bit on it there. And then I was doing another workshop of another musical right before this. So, I didn't really have time to work on it then. But I did my best to show up as memorized as possible.
00:28:44] KM: So, when did you start getting serious about learning it?
00:28:47] JKW: I would say when I got it, when I got it. It's a lot of material. And then when I got here and when I finally got to working on it. It's interesting, because with certain shows, you also don't want to be too memorized when you show up, because you don't want to – You can fall into the trap of memorizing it. And then you've memorized the way you're going to act it, too. You know what I mean? And so, you kind of want to learn it as you're going sometimes so that it still feels more organic and more human as opposed to, “This is the way I'm going to do it because I memorize it this way.” No matter how the person across from you is doing it.
00:29:21] KM: How long is the play?
00:29:23] JKW: I think 2:40.
00:29:26] KM: And you’re on stage most of the time.
00:29:28] JKW: I do have a couple of breaks. But I'm on stage in some form quite a bit, yeah.
00:29:32] KM: So you had to memorize three hours’ worth of words and songs. Why are you laughing, Gray?
00:29:39] GK: It’s very exaggerated, mother.
00:29:41] KM: Doesn’t seem like it to me. I can't even read his name without making a mistake. Sometimes I have to do 30-second commercials and they have to hold up a flashcard over the guy's head because I can't even memorize 30 seconds.
00:29:52] GM: Memorization is just like singing. It's a skill that you can build, you know?
00:29:55] JKW: Yeah, yeah. And lots of people on the show have lots of things to say and sing in this show. So, we share that burden together. That two and a half hour burden is shared amongst many folks.
00:30:09] KM: I really admire people that do that kind of stuff. I can't imagine – All right, this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with the
stage actor Mr. Jacob Keith Watson, back in his home state to play the role as baker in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production Into the Woods.
Still to come, Mr. Watson's career. What it's like to be on Broadway, or to be on a national tour? And last tips for those who dream of a career in acting. We'll be right back.
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00:31:14] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Mr. Jacob Keith Watson who is back in his home state as the lead role in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production Into the Woods, a fun play chocked full of life lessons for the whole family.
Before the break, we talked about the play. So, if you’re tuning in, you might want to go back and listen to what the play is going to be like if you're going to go see it, because it kind of puts it in context for you. It's a fairy tale full of medley of fairy tales. All Grimm Fairy Tales. And then there's life lessons that are good for the whole family. And then it's interesting to me how you talk about how fast you have to learn all that memorization and the songs and the camaraderie that comes from working together and the way it's organically unfolds. And I can't imagine being an actor or an actress in doing this every day. I noticed that the rep has a new play every month. I'm like, “How do they do that?” Not sleep for 30 days? For 30 days straight? What does Will Trice do? Just not sleep for a whole four months in a row?
00:32:24] GM: Probably.
00:32:25] KM: Jacob, do you plan to be an actor all your life?
00:32:29] JKW: Yeah, I think so. I think more than that, I think I definitely see myself being involved in theater for the rest of my life, whether that's as a teacher, or administrator in some form, or a director. I definitely want to be involved in the theater as long as possible.
00:32:46] KM: Well, your parents are teachers. I already see the writing on the wall. When you get tired of traveling and you decide to settle down, it’s going to be teaching. You live in New York now or New Jersey?
00:32:57] JKW: Yeah, we live in New Jersey.
00:33:00] KM: You think you'll stay up there?
00:33:02] JKW: I'm not sure. We've talked about – Now that everything is so digital and most auditions are via tape and via video recordings, we've talked about what it would look like to maybe move closer to family. Who knows?
00:33:15] KM: Where's your wife from?
00:33:16] JKW: She's originally from Memphis.
00:33:19] KM: Oh! So, you are both southerner?
00:33:21] JKW: Yep, yep, yep, yep. And we grew up – My hometown was 45 minutes from Memphis. Now, my parents live in Jonesboro. So, it's a little longer. But I mean, two hours from Memphis is not that –
00:33:31] KM: Is your dad still teaching football?
00:33:32] JKW: Nope. No more. They're both retired.
00:33:34] KM: Nothing.
00:33:35] JKW: Yep.
00:33:37] KM: Starting out, did you have a contingency plan? Did you think – I mean, you went to school to be an actor. What was your backup plan? Because let's be honest, most people don't – Or do they? Maybe I'm wrong. It seems like most people don't really end up staying in the business.
00:33:51] JKW: Well, it's interesting. I think if you'd asked me this prior to studying it and becoming a professional actor, I'd be like, “Yeah, I think contingency plan is a great thing. A backup plan is a great thing.” And then after having done it, I realized why people leave the business. It's rarely because they're not working or because they can't hack it or whatever the culture likes to make jokes about, “Oh, that person can hack it. So, they quit the business and moved away.” That's not really a thing. What it is usually is people recognize they want something else out of their life and they choose to go do something else. And it's a great thing. And I applaud it. And it takes a lot of courage and curiosity. And it's very exciting to me when people do that.
So, for me, personally, I entered school thinking I was actually going to go teach probably. I'd never thought – I wanted to be an actor. And in my head, I was like, “Yeah, I could do this.” But then you go to a small school and you think, “Well, no one's really ever been on Broadway from the school. So that's kind of a pipe dream.” And then somewhere along the way you say, “Okay. Well, actually, I'm going to do it. I'm going to go do it.” And the switch is flipped?
00:35:03] GM: There you go.
00:35:04] JKW: Ooh! That took a minute.
00:35:06] KM: You're having a Kerry moment.
00:35:08] JKW: The switch has been flipped, and you decide, “Okay. Well, I'm going to go all-in on this and go for it.” And so, I never really had a contingency plan. And I still don't have a contingency plan.
00:35:21] KM: There are so many acting opportunities today. It's not like the old days when you had three channels and two movie studios.
00:35:26] GM: And Broadway was like the only goal.
00:35:28] JKW: Right. Exactly. Yeah, there's so many places – That's what I tell students all the time. It's like, “Broadway is a great thing. Like, it's a great goal to have, if that's what you really want to do. But you can make theater in so many places. There are so many great places like Little Rock to be a theatre maker.” We've been told that there's only one place you can do it. And that's not true.
00:35:49] KM: Think about the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. People love it.
00:35:53] JKW: I've had such a great time.
00:35:54] KM: Actors love it. Would you call it a regional theater? So, your repertoire is Broadway, national tour and regional theater. So, the rep is a regional theater?
00:36:03] JKW: Yeah, that'd be regional.
00:36:03] KM: If you had to rate it from one to 10, what would you rate it?
00:36:06] JKW: 12. It's great. Having a great time.
00:36:07] GM: Look up. Sucking up. It is really good, though. It’s unique. It’s very unique for a town our size.
00:36:15] JKW: I actually really love the space, too. The theatre itself is really, really cool.
00:36:19] KM: So, let's talk about the three genres that you've done. So, Broadway. Is that a show every night?
00:36:27] JKW: Oh, yeah. It's eight shows a week, six days a week.
00:36:29] KM: How do you keep your voice in place?
00:36:32] JKW: Technique, rest, exercise, lots of water, lots of sleep. It's tricky.
00:36:39] KM: What happens if it just gives out on you?
00:36:41] JKW: Then you take time off.
00:36:43] KM: And you have an understudy?
00:36:44] JKW: Yeah, you have an understudy?
00:36:45] KM: How often does the understudy get used?
00:36:48] JKW: It depends. It really depends on how difficult the show is. It depends on when you're doing it. It depends on all kinds of things.
00:36:54] KM: Have you been an understudy for a famous person before?
00:36:57] JKW: I've been understudies for Broadway famous people? But not like a famous, famous person.
00:37:02] KM: Not like a movie person.
00:37:03] JKW: Yeah. Weirdly, I have not – In that circumstance, I haven't had to go on as the understudy for that particular role. I ended up – Actually, they had to leave for a little while. And then I ended up taking over the park for six weeks.
00:37:19] KM: What was the part?
00:37:21] JKW: Enoch Snow in Carousel. And so that was my first principal lead role on Broadway. And so, I was always the understudy prior to that. And then that person had to take a leave for six weeks to go do another thing. And I took over for that period. And then I never went on before that.
00:37:36] KM: Is it true like they say in the movies that these stars are threatened by the understudies?
00:37:41] JKW: No.
00:37:42] KM: I didn't think so. That’s just movies.
00:37:44] JKW: No, we're all doing it together. Yeah. So many movie things.
00:37:47] GM: Life happens. And, like, that's exactly the point of an understudy. Yeah.
00:37:51] JKW: Yeah. Like, your kid is sick, stay home. I'm not trying to take your job. You go do your thing.
00:37:56] KM: So, the difference between Broadway, Broadway is eight shows a week. But when you're doing a national tour –
00:38:01] JKW: Also eight shows a week.
00:38:02] KM: No.
00:38:03] JKW: No. You're not doing eight shows at the rep. Are you?
00:38:06] JKW: We’re doing seven shows a week here. We're doing Tuesday through Sunday.
00:38:11] KM: Oh! So, it's just as many shows. For some reason I thought when you did regional or national tours –
00:38:15] JKW: It kind of depends.
00:38:16] KM: So, if you're doing a national tour, let's say, at the Robinson. So, they'll bring in – I just went and saw Hairspray. And it was a national tour. But I think it played eight shows. But it may have.
00:38:29] JKW: So, the here's the trick with national tours. And this could be a very complicated conversation, because then there's non-union national tours, and then there's union national tours. We're not going to get into that. But you can do what's called a split week on a national tour, which means you do four shows in a place like Little Rock and then you travel the next morning and then you load in and do four shows in Shreveport, Louisiana. So, you will have technically done eight shows, just maybe not in one location.
00:38:58] KM: Two locations. Boy, that seems even harder.
00:38:59] JKW: Yeah, it is very difficult.
00:39:00] KM: Of all the ways you’ve done –
00:39:02] JKW: Sometimes they'll do one night a week. They’ll do one a one show a day, and you travel the next day and –
00:39:06] GM: And they truck you from city to city every day.
00:39:08] JKW: Yup, bus and trucks.
00:39:08] KM: The poor guys that have to go in first to set up.
00:39:11] JKW: That’s the real thing. Yeah, the people who do the load-in and load-out is awful.
00:39:15] KM: Oh, I can't imagine. So, you've done Broadway, national tour, regional tour. Of the three styles of work, which one's your favorite?
00:39:24] JKW: They're all wonderful for different purposes. I've really found a love for regional theater that I didn't know I was going to have, because you are going into these places and you're offering a service. You know what I mean? When you're doing regional theater, these houses are offering something to the community. Broadway is – Yes, it is art. It is attempting to bring something new into the world. It's wonderful. But it's also purely business. It's trying to make money at the same time. National tour is an offshoot of that. Whereas regional theater is something built for this community, by this community, for this community, which is really exciting to me to be able to offer that to people.
00:40:02] KM: Your director was so into it in her YouTube.
00:40:06] JKW: Yeah. She's fabulous.
00:40:08] KM: I think people don't realize that Little Rock's got so much to offer. We interview all kinds of people all the time that say, “I come here and I had no idea you're going to have a ballet, and you have a symphony and you have this regional theater that's wonderful.” And then you go up to Northwest Arkansas, and they really got it going on up there.
00:40:25] GM: Have you been to Theatre Squared?
00:40:28] JKW: Not yet.
00:40:28] GM: Yeah, speaking of regional theater, yeah.
00:40:31] JKW: I know a handful of people up there. I've chatted with them. But I love to at some point.
00:40:33] GM: It’s cool. Yeah, the new space is incredible.
00:40:37] KM: Do you have a favorite show you've done?
00:40:39] JKW: Ooh!
00:40:40] KM: So, let's just go over some of your shows to jog your memory on Broadway. Carousel, Hello, Dolly, Phantom of the Opera, 1776 Robert Livingston Encores?
00:40:52] JKW: I played Robert Livingston at the company on Chorus in New York, yeah, in 1776.
00:40:57] KM: Is that your favorite show?
00:40:58] JKW: No. I loved it though. It was great.
00:41:01] KM: Violet Preacher?
00:41:02] JKW: Violet was probably my favorite show I've done for numerous reasons. But mostly, one, it's connected to Arkansas in some way. It's about this girl. The whole synopsis is very interesting. But it's about a person who's trying to get healed. And so, she takes the bus. Kind of it's during the 60s, during the Civil Rights Movement. She takes a bus from North Carolina across the country to Oklahoma to a healing preacher. But she makes stops in Memphis. She makes stops and Fort Smith and all this kind of stuff to get to Oklahoma. And, two, the reason it's my favorite is because it was my first professional – My first Broadway show. And it's also how I joined the Actors Union. And it's really where I learned how to be a professional actor. Just watching so many like Tony Award-winning people. And it was incredible to be in that small room with only 10 to 15 of us making that beautiful show and learning so much from those people. And it was a really, really special experience.
00:41:58] KM: have you been to Tony Awards?
00:41:59] JKW: I did. That was the first time I went.
00:42:01] KM: Did y'all win an award?
00:42:02] JKW: I think we want a couple of things. I'm not sure.
00:42:06] KM: Did Neil Patrick Harris happened to be the emcee?
00:42:08] JKW: No. It was actually Hugh Jackman that year, I think.
00:42:11] KM: Nobody's ever watched Neil Patrick Harris on YouTube do the opening for the Tony Awards. I watch it all the time. Seriously, I watched it 12 times. I even turned it on this year and showed my husband. And he was like, “Oh my gosh! You want to watch it again.”
00:42:28] JKW: It’s so good. It’s so good. It’s so good.
00:42:31] KM: Yeah. It’s getting bigger. I can't sing. All right, regional theaters. You've done kind of the same ones in the regional theaters. Othello. Oh, that sounds awful.
00:42:47] JKW: That was at Arkansas Shakespeare Theater. That was when I was in college still.
00:42:50] KM: As You Like It.
00:42:52] JKW: Also there. That's the one where the monologue is all the world to stage. All the men and women are merely players. It's a good one. I love Shakespeare personally, but you have to have people who really know what they're doing presented to you. And then you will understand it in a way you didn't expect to.
00:43:10] KM: All right. This is our last break before we come back and finish our interview with a performing artist, Mr. Jacob Keith Watson. Watson, a baritenor, is singing his way in our hearts as the kind hearted baker in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production Into the Woods, a Stephen Sondheim play for the whole family.
When we come back, we'll get Watson's take on the future of theater. And last, get tips for those who have the acting bug. We'll be right back.
00:43:39] AGH: Hi, I'm Addie Gorlin-Han. I am the director of Into the Woods here at the Arkansas Repertory Theater.
00:44:15] ANNOUNCER: Into the Woods now at the Arkansas Repertory Theater until May 15th. Tickets at therep.org.
00:44:22] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Mr. Jacob Keith Watson who is back in his home state as the lead role in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production Into the Woods. So, you have the best laugh. We were just talking about it. And so, I asked, do you laugh in the play? And you said yes. And you also –
00:44:41] JKW: Lots of laughing, lots of crying. You’ll have all the things.
00:44:42] KM: How do you cry?
00:44:43] JKW: Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't.
00:44:45] KM: And it’s okay if it doesn't?
00:44:46] JKW: Yeah.
00:44:47] KM: You just fake it. You just learn how to laugh.
00:44:48] JKW: No. You just keep going. You just keep going.
00:44:51] KM: You just learn how to cry. And even if you're not crying for real, you just look like you're crying because you're an actor and you can make it look like you're crying. Is that right?
00:44:59] JKW: Well, yeah, you play the story. And whatever happens happens. That's the goal. And you as an audience member will also laugh a ton. And you'll also cry a ton.
00:45:09] KM: So, if you're just tuning in, we've talked about life on the road, life and Broadway. How to take care of your voice? Don't bother having a contingency plan if you want to be an actor, because there is so much work out there today.
00:45:24] JKW: I have a caveat for that that I will add. I will say that it is also very important to have other passions as an actor. This can't be your only thing that you're passionate about. You have to have other things you're chasing, other things you dream about. Because that then makes you a better actor. It makes you a more full human in order to do that. And also, sometimes those other passions can lead to ways of making great money that allow you to do even better jobs and even better shows and more interesting pieces of theatre. So, it's an interesting thing.
00:45:53] KM: Great advice. Yeah, if you don't have any life experience, how can you be an actor? Where do you draw from?
00:45:58] JKW: Yeah, exactly.
00:45:59] KM: You don't look like someone's ever had any problems in your life. You have great parents.
00:46:04] JKW: Well, we've all had things.
00:46:06] KM: You have?
00:46:06] JKW: Yeah, we've all had things. Yeah.
00:46:09] KM: So, I've heard that when you get up there and you're about to cry, that you're supposed to think of when your dog died or something. That will make me cry in a heartbeat. I could just think of that.
00:46:18] JKW: Yeah, relive your trauma.
00:46:20] GM: Yeah, right.
00:46:20] KM: Is that what you do?
00:46:21] JKW: No.
00:46:21] GM: That sounds very like old school method –
00:46:24] JKW: That is very old school. Yeah.
00:46:26] KM: Well, how do you get your tears out? How do you do it? Where do you pull from?
00:46:28] JKW: I mean, everyone, actors and everyone alike, benefit from like vulnerability practices, right? And I think, as an actor, it's something that's a part of what you do. And so, if you practice allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open on a daily basis, it's going to be much easier when you're on stage in front of people too.
00:46:48] KM: People have a hard time being vulnerable. I think that's one of the things I admire about actors so much, is I sometimes watch them, even in movies and stuff, and I just think, “How do they have so much faith and trust in the cameraman and the editor that they're just going to get up there and cry, and snot, and do all this stuff? And just bare their soul and give it everything they've got? And trust the people that are supporting them?”
00:47:16] JKW: Yeah. It does take a lot of trust. It does. Yeah.
00:47:19] KM: Yeah. Advice to want to be actors? Do you have to be a triple threat?
00:47:25] JKW: Coming from someone who is not a dancer, no. You don’t.
00:47:28] KM: You don't dance?
00:47:29] JKW: I move. I can do some things. But you're not going to pay me a lot of money to do a lot of dancing. So, no. I think there's a space for all kinds of people in the theater specifically, that it's not what it used to be that you had to be a song and dance man in order to be in the musical theater. It's not like that anymore.
00:47:50] KM: If you were starting out again, is there anything you do different?
00:47:54] JKW: Hmm, that's a really good question. No.
00:47:56] KM: Because you learn from it all.
00:47:57] JKW: Yep.
00:47:57] KM: If you are going to give advice to somebody starting out, how would you tell them to start?
00:48:02] JKW: Just start. Do it anyway.
00:48:04] KM: Go to school? Is it worth going to school?
00:48:07] JKW: Depends. Some people, it's really worth it.
00:48:08] KM: You know, Jennifer Lawrence didn't even graduate high school.
00:48:11] JKW: Yeah. Some people, it's really worth it. Some people need the incubation period of just learning how to trust themselves and trust people around them. Some people are completely fearless already and can go for it and don't have to worry with that. And then there will be a time where those fearless people have to relearn that fearlessness. It's kind of a cycle. It's not as easy as we're all in different phases in different parts of the journey. And sometimes they take steps back and steps forward. And classes are required and –
00:48:35] KM: Do you think you'll be acting forever?
00:48:39] JKW: I think so. In some form, I think – Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I think I'll either be involved in theater in some way for the rest of my life.
00:48:48] KM: Even if you end up a teacher.
00:48:50] JKW: Yeah. Yeah.
00:48:51] KM: What's the future of theater? Were you in New York when COVID hit? Were you trying to get jobs?
00:48:53] JKW: I was. I was around it. Well, there weren’t any. Everything was canceled. Everything was gone.
00:48:58] KM: So, you worked for your wife?
00:49:00] JKW: Mm-hmm. I did. Yeah.
00:49:01] KM: And anything else? Did you consider getting out of the business?
00:49:05] JKW: Yeah, absolutely. I think for that first year, I really did not consider myself an actor. That first year of being off I kind of was like, “Oh, I was pretty tired. I was pretty rundown. I'd done a lot of stuff up to that point.” And I think I was like, “What does it actually look like to not be in the theater, or as an actor at all? Let's see what it looks like.” And for that first year, I did. And there came a point where I was like, “Oh, much to my wife's dismay sometime, I'm to be an actor. This is what I do.” That switch was flipped again. And I was like, “Yeah, this is what I do. This is what I have to do. And this is what I'm supposed to be doing.”
00:49:41] KM: You just didn't feel fulfilled.
00:49:44] JKW: Yeah, I didn't. I felt there was like a piece of me missing.
00:49:48] KM: So, how much do you travel a year?
00:49:51] JKW: It kind of varies. I would say, prior to COVID, I try to not travel very often. I really like to be home. I like to come home at night and be with my wife, Elizabeth. I don't like to be out, out on the road very often. But after COVID, first of all, the work, you have to take it. Second of all, I've been presented with a lot of fun opportunities that haven't just happened to be in New York. So, I've traveled some. But it really varies kind of depending on season. When I
did a tour for a year, and I was never home, which was I did not like that at all. But I've only been home probably two weeks in the last six months. It's not been good. It's been tough.
00:50:31] KM: How hard is it on your marriage? She got a boyfriend or something?
00:50:35] JKW: No. Absolutely not.
00:50:36] KM: No. Of course not.
00:50:38] JKW: She’s actually in Memphis with their family right now.
00:50:40] KM: What in the world? That's too – Is this why actors are always getting divorced because you lose touch with your wife?
00:50:48] JKW: Maybe it is. Maybe it is. I don't know. I'm lucky that we have a great relationship. And we have great communication in that way.
00:50:53] KM: And there's Skype.
00:50:54] JKW: Yeah, exactly. There's FaceTime. And we've kind of figured out how to make it work for us.
00:50:59] KM: I've just really enjoyed meeting you. So, my last question, when you get off at Broadway and you have to drive home in New Jersey, what time do you get home?
00:51:06] JKW: It kind of depends. Sometimes if I'm taking the train, it could be one o'clock. If I'm driving, usually earlier. But it's tough. Yeah,
inaudible 00:51:15] tough.
00:51:15] KM: If you're going to have kids, you're going to have changed your life.
00:51:18] JKW: Well, a lot of people do. A lot of people do when they have kids. They realize, “Oh, this is not maybe it.”
00:51:23] KM: Aha. You don’t see your kid for six weeks, you come back and he's an inch taller.
00:51:26] JKW: Exactly. I'm going into the city when they're going to sleep, or coming home from school, or – Yeah, it's tricky. Yeah, but I don't have kids. I've got cats. And they're always around. And they're always awake or asleep.
00:51:36] GM: They’ll be awake at 1am.
00:51:38] JKW: Exactly. Sleeping on my head.
00:51:40] KM: Jacob Keith Watson, I have enjoyed you so much.
00:51:44] JKW: Same here. Same here.
00:51:46] KM: I really enjoyed this interview. And for you to remember us by, here's a desk set with the US flag, of course, the Arkansas and the New York. But I really should have given him New Jersey.
00:51:54] JKW: Oh, that’s fine. I’ll take New York. I work in New York. I work in New York.
00:51:58] KM: There you go. Thank you so much.
00:51:58] JKW: This is lovely. I love this. This is great.
00:52:01] KM: Oh, thank you. We love you. We love you. I look forward to seeing you at the play.
00:52:03] JKW: Yup, come find me.
00:52:05] KM: It's time for us to go. So, in closing, I'd like to tell our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. And that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or
your life. I'm Kerry McCoy, and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
00:52:26] GM: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio show and choose today's guest. If you'd like to sponsor this show or any show, email me, grayatflagandbanner.com.
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