Hi Friend, Welcome to Episode 39 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Today you’ll hear my long-awaited talk with the multi-talented founders of LoJoWerkz, Tim Long and Jerome Johnson. I’m Sally Adams, your SallyPAL podcast host.
Every week I talk to people like the LojoWERKz team about creating original work for a live audience. We talk about practical matters such as finding a great stage manager, scheduling for a show, and booking the right venue. My guests and I also explore social issues such as "open writing" and inclusion, women's voices, and celebrating "otherness". Check out the show notes on the blog to get links to the things we talk about and see photos of my guests. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every week.
Check out sallypal.com/join for a cool free theatre resource. It’s never too late to sign up and have access to the Creator’s Notebook. I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. If there are things you want included in the Creator’s Notebook, let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I read them all. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.
LoJoWERKz Graphic Arts Version of Jerome and Tim at Work
LoJoWERKz Tim Long and Jerome Johnson met in 1991 at Okmulgee High School in Oklahoma when Tim was a young substitute teacher doing music and art on the side and Jerome was a high school kid into street dancing. Today the pair form the foundation of LoJoWERKz productions. The innovative stage and screen entertainment company blends hip-hop culture with traditional genres and has garnered some very high level attention. Tim’s companion art label, TuTchT IMAGING, creates graphic art featuring models of color.
Before collaborating on their first full book musical, A Song of Greenwood, in the late 1990s, the two LojoWERKz founders collaborated on projects for the church they both attended. Higher Dimensions Church in Tulsa, led by Carlton Pearson, encouraged the pair’s creative expression and led to a working partnership.
The Cast of "Roofless" from the 2016 Table Reading
LoJoWERKz' current project, Roofless, started as a dance concert directed by the inimitable Tyrone Wilkerson for American Theatre Company in Tulsa. They worked the Roofless script into a full-blown musical and were awarded a place in 2004 into the ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. When they were accepted, Michael Kerker, Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP, told them Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz was really impressed by their work.
Tim and Jerome have been mentored by Kerker and Schwartz since 2004. In 2005 they won the Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award. Since that time the show has been called “groundbreaking”, “genius”, and “the future of the musical” by people who know what they’re talking about.
Tim has a background in film. He’s a 1988 graduate of the famously innovative CalArts. And he and Jerome have been working on a new approach Roofless. They gave SallyPAL an exclusive reveal of what’s next for this amazing show and it’s going to expand the musical form on many levels.
Tim and Jerome already have some experience creating a blend of new and old they both love. In the short film HotFoot, Jerome choreographs famous hip-hop dance artist Lil Buck in a silent movie that also features Jerome’s eight-year-old son Sage.
I’ve followed Lojowerkz for a few years and it’s really great to see this pair experiencing the success they deserve. They're just good people and there’s more ahead for both of these extraordinarily talented friends. They talk about a lot of exciting new things happening in the worlds of musical theatre, film, and hip-hop, including Lin Manuel Miranda’s works, In the Heights and Hamilton, and the work of artists like Lil Buck. You’ll hear Jerome’s son, Sage, in the background. Also, his wife, Tyff, makes a brief appearance.
If you listen to the podcast, be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.
Concise Advice from the Interview:
9) Being an outsider can be an advantage. Use it.
8) Keep moving forward and surround yourself with smart people, you’ll eventually get where you need to go.
7) Listen to critique for the grain of truth but take advice from people who know what they’re doing.
6) Don’t try to reshape what you have to fit the marketplace, but do get in the system to get to the caliber of advice you need.
5) Submit your work once it’s performance ready.
4) Get into legitimate circles to hone your voice and your craft.
3) A great idea won’t leave you.
2) Know your voice.
1) Keep putting your foot on the gas and go.
Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You, too, can be a SallyPAL. Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. Thanks to Hannah for emailing me, it was awesome to hear from you!
If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my doobadooba fubar like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. You need to share your stories. Storytelling through plays, dances, music, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now, keep putting your foot on the gas and go!