Season 2
42 Minutes

E50 | Dana P. Rowe | When A Hit Musical Theater Composer Expands His Life


Dana P. Rowe is an acclaimed American musical theatre composer whose works have been performed all over the world. His musicals “The Fix” and “The Witches of Eastwick” were both nominated for London’s Olivier Award and produced by legendary theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh. “The Witches of Eastwick” is receiving a new concert staging in London’s West End this June.

In recent years, Dana has combined his passion for composing with a passion for coaching – not as a vocal coach, but as a coach and mentor to other creative entrepreneurs who wish to expand their impact in the world.

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THE IMPERFECT SHOW NOTES

To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.

These show notes come via the Otter.ai service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Dana P. Rowe  00:00

I remember looking up at the ceiling of my apartment my illegal sublet on 45th Street and going wow, it’s not going to be I don’t think the same from now on. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t in fact, the opening night of the fix. I gotta tell you this the other night of the fix. Cameron introduced me to a gentleman. His name was Lionel Bart. He’s the one who wrote all of her. Yeah. And I thought oh my gosh, the man who inspired me to write one of these of my own was at my opening night.

Achim Nowak  00:37

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started.  I am just so delighted to welcome Dana P. Rowe to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. Dana is in musical theater composer. His works. Many created in partnership with lyricist Paul Dempsey have been performed to great acclaim in London’s West End and on stages all over the world. Two of his musicals the fix and the Witches of Eastwick were nominated for the prestigious Olivier Award. Each was produced by legendary theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh their musical Zombie Prom, had a successful off Broadway run and has since received hundreds but productions around the world. Now I’m just scratching the surface of Dana’s truly impressive accomplishments here. Well, one hour and that Dana is also an executive coach for creative entrepreneurs and business leaders who want more ease and flow. I knew I just had to talk to him. And thankfully, Dana said, yes. So welcome, Dana.

Dana P. Rowe  02:08

Well, thank you. And thanks for asking. That, you know, it was exciting to get your invitation.

Achim Nowak  02:15

Yes. I’m so glad you’re here. And I like to start every conversation, especially when a huge part of your life is a highly creative, expressive work. People always wonder, was he like one of those musical theater kids from the time he was in elementary school? Was that always there? Uh, when did that show up in your life?

Dana P. Rowe  02:36

Oh, wow. That’s a power that that that one is, that’s you, if you don’t mind, I’d love to tell you how that began. I’d love to come well, when I was a little kid. You know, I love music, of course. But the main thing here is that I had a stutter. And when it came time to do the oral book report in fourth grade, you know, I was abysmal. It was terrifying. I came I you know, I would start to tell my story, because I loved to read and I would start to express what was going on in front of the class and I couldn’t get a word out. So, but because of my stuttering, my sort of safe place to be was at the piano. And that was where I first I always say that music was my first language. And because that was how I was expressing myself, and grew to form in Columbus, Ohio, we had indoor recess, because of snow. And in the school gymnasium, there was a piano there. So to make myself comfortable and feel at home, I started making music to go with my friends as they played, you know, Foursquare and kickball and Red Rover, Red Rover. And my very smart teacher, Mrs. Martin saw me do that. The next time it was time to do my oral book report. She whispered in my ear, she says, Dana. Next time make up music. Oh, your story. You know, Mrs. Martin changed my life. Yeah, because that’s what I do now is I create music for the emotional moment.

Achim Nowak  04:16

Oh, I got chills as you were saying that because I great teachers don’t just teach what they’re teaching. They see who we really are. And that’s what Mrs. Martin did. I mean, that’s just gorgeous.

Dana P. Rowe  04:29

Changed my life.

Achim Nowak  04:30

Yeah, no, I get it. That’s our listeners understand this because that lots of folks who have musical desires or they might do something in the in the local community theater, or a part of their colleges, let me take some music classes. But you have you created an illustrious, accomplished career like How How did it move into? Oh, I think I can Do this for a living

Dana P. Rowe  05:03

with great resistance.

Achim Nowak  05:07

inner or outer resistance?

Dana P. Rowe  05:09

Oh, I think it was more inner, you know, I thought okay, you know, music is my thing. It’s my jam. And so I was always very comfortable and musical situation. And actually, the end of that story is really kind of triumphant. I when I started telling my story to the class, then, you know, who was laughing at me? You know, they all laughed until I sat down at the piano. You heard that old phrase. And I started telling the story, and this is what happens when they go through here. And this is what happens when they go through there. They really literally couldn’t shut me up. So I was just so you know, passionate about telling the story. And I think that’s something that I love to do. And so, my father noticed that and he saw an audition notice in our local paper for they were casting local talent for a production of Oliver that was going through town with John Kenley. Get Kenley players was a big summer stock touring. Yeah. And he says, you know, you might like this. And so I auditioned for it, it was a production of Oliver. Got it. And I remember my folks also needed just weren’t listen, you don’t get too upset. If you don’t get it. There are a lot of people auditioning, you’ve never done this before. I was like, nine going on 90. And you know, so I thought, okay, that’s fine. I’ll go and, you know, cuz I could sing, I may not be able to do lines that easily at that point. But I could sing and so I got in I got cast is one of the orphan boys. At one of the rehearsals I was sitting there. And it was the first time that I heard all of these amazing singers around me. And I was like, 10 years old at that point. And it was magical. It just lifted me to another place. And I looked at this little vocal sides book. And I said, Sunday, I wanted the I want one of these of my own. And I really know that there was a moment there, that it’s sort of like I go, Oh, yeah, I don’t even know what that means. But I want one of those of my own sort of my life just kind of circuitous Lee, you know, made that. So…

Achim Nowak  07:21

As I’m listening to you, because we’re recording on Zoom, you’re illustrating this circuitous, which, which is wonderfully expressive. Our listeners can see that but but a point of what to make based on what you said, I remembered something from my own life that totally forgotten. You know, I grew up in Portugal between the ages of five and nine. And my parents, at one point, there was a big opera production of their Rosenkavalier at the opera house with major like German opera stars. And they’re the kids that come in at the end, my parents volunteered, and I had no choice. But I remember having a vocal teacher, so I would get the notes right at the end. But that experience of standing on the big opera house in Lisbon, and seeing the vastness of an audience and receiving the exchange of energy. The point is not that itself, but the fact that parents have the power to encourage us, your dad, encouraging you That’s beautiful.

Dana P. Rowe  08:17

Is it is interesting, I thank you for pointing that out. Yeah, it was a very sort of intuitive thing on his part, to say, he should try this because this is you know, you were talking about cleave, you know, who’s a good old boy from the hills of Kentucky. And for him to suggest that is Sunday. That was really a big deal. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  08:40

When we hear a musical theater, especially musical theater done at your stage of accomplishment, which is truly extraordinary. It’s easy to glamorize. It looks fantastic, you think it’s opening night, you wait for the reviews, you go to the Olivier Awards show, but this is sort of the sexy stuff, right? And then obviously does the creative process. It’s highly collaborative medium. You don’t always get what you want. If you take us to the whichever musical you pick, one of the early ones, were you while you went, Oh, I think I’m having a career here. And thinking like, what was fantastic about it in your mind. But what was also maybe challenging or frustrating if you can take us to both extremes.

Dana P. Rowe  09:26

I’m Yeah, it’s so interesting that you asked that because, boy, they’re both there. You know what you’re talking about my friend? Yeah, as I always often say, it’s just not as glamorous as you think. You know, it’s a lot of work. And you we have to be in love with the work. I can’t be in love with the glamorous moments. So that’s where I came to in my own being as composer, I think it was my collaborator, John, John Dempsey and I we sort of put together this production of The Reluctant dragon For back in Columbus, Ohio, we were at Ohio State University and we thought let’s write a musical he had I had seen him in the halls of the music school, exchanging quips about Sondheim lyrics with, you know, people and I go, Oh, yeah. Okay, that’s good. Because, you know, Sondheim was the lyricist in my brain. And we, I think we all most people who are in musical theater at all know that, you know, really extraordinary and, and I was, I was making stuff up, even when I was, even at that point, I would have voice students, and they would have to do a 16 bar, audition, and they would bring in music and we try to do cuttings. And I said, You know what, this just isn’t working. Let me just write something for you. And I don’t know what made me think I could do that. But I did. And I would write eight bar and 16 bar, you know, little ditties for them to show off their voice. And they would start they were starting to get cast. And then John, who I just only knew tangentially had heard about that. He said, Hey, would you ever want to write a show? And so we wrote The Reluctant dragon which got produced a player’s theatre Columbus. And that was exciting. Right after that. It was like, wow, I What do you know, I, if this might be worth while, and at this point, I was already well into my 30s. So I was sort of a late bloomer that way, because in my mind, it was never why. Who would possibly pay me? Or how could I possibly make money doing that? So we did that. And lo and behold, it was published and licensed. So I said, Hey, John, this is fabulous. Let’s do another. And then that’s when Zombie Prom was born. He said, Okay, let’s, let’s put together two words that don’t belong together. And that was back in the 80s. And back in the 80s, there was no such thing as a Zombie Prom. Yeah. So we wrote it. Now, there are zombie proms all over the world plus the show has been is pretty much a beloved thing for high schools and college groups. That was exciting. However, we were pretty much even though that opened and pretty much closed. It’s, it was really the core of my career for many, many years and my income, my finances, it was very popular. A, although the critics really kind of dismissed it. In less than either, I’d say six months after Zombie Prom opened in New York, that’s when we started writing the fix. And that’s when we got involved with Cameron Macintosh.

Achim Nowak  12:41

I just wanted to test this with you. Because the beautiful part of your story is that you are, in your own words, a late bloomer. And I think many creative people, it’s easy to feel, yeah, I’m passionate about this. But I’ll never be as good as Sondheim. Why even bother? Or I like to do this. But there’s so many other people doing this. Why would I stand out in any kind of way? Did you have those demons? Maybe you didn’t? Did you have to wrestle with them? I

Dana P. Rowe  13:14

think so. I think I mean, I would really kind of, I can’t imagine being a mere mortal and not wrestling with those, those very thoughts. And they’re, you’re really touching on something I think a lot of artists must come to terms with, it’s like, where am I in the scheme of creativity and art in the world? And really, the real burning question was, Is this really what I want to do, and if it’s really what you want to do, you will do it. You know, if you’re not one thing I have noticed, witnessed is a lot of fellow creatives who will, at a certain point, just drop off. It was the sort of, wow, something’s coming up here for me. And that is that we often construct a promise we feel should be fulfilled. It’s sort of an invisible promise, unspoken promise, if I do this and become an artist, then this will be provided to me. And there’s no promise, you have to love it. You have to do it because you love it and feel as if you have something to say, where you have to really rethink that and say, I’m doing this because I love it. But it’s not necessarily for everyone, you know, or for the world.

Achim Nowak  14:41

You so beautifully just described some narratives around why we do what we do or narratives that could be shaping and often we’re not conscious of those. And so we have these unconscious narratives that’s driving what we do. Also, I want to just get to the we were talking about the inner voices. But I remember being a writer, I have a bunch of books out. I’ve been all traditionally published all bought without me having written them based on what proposals I have an agent. But the amount of times people said, Oh, it’s so hard to get published. Do you really want to do that? Or it’s such a difficult field? Or traditional publishers, all assholes? Why don’t you publish yourself? I mean, all that stuff. From the outside, you know, did you? Were there voices around your story for yourself? Did you have to navigate those or not?

Dana P. Rowe  15:40

Yes. It’s maybe not really what we would, you know, I’m imagining it’s not what people think, though. There was a certain amount of success that I experienced. And it wasn’t until then, that I really had difficulty negotiating. Being a composer. That’s when it all really got real. And that’s when I had a big old crash and burn in my life. That’s when I became disappointed in that unspoken promise checked out for a little bit.

Achim Nowak  16:17

Yeah, so interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. But on a gut level, that actually makes a lot of sense. Now, I just want to I’m really interesting getting to the combination of stuff you’re doing now but I, since you, you know, you were produced by Cameron Mackintosh a legend. Like there are many musical, you know, theater people who would kill to be produced by him. And you had two shows produce just what what was it like for you and John to suddenly have a major force in the industry say, well, we like your work, and I want to produce it and what was that? Like?

Dana P. Rowe  16:59

Wow, Ah, I remember the day John and I had finished writing what is now the fix. And with the money the advance we got from Samuel French for Zombie Prom, we decided that we could both move back to New York. I’d all I had been in New York already. And then I made up my mind, I would come back to New York someday. Under my sort of like criteria that I would come back and not be living on peanut butter, and you know, Dale doughnuts, so that that was my is my I think that’s a good standard. Yeah, it’s 100. Right. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. So. So when when we got the advance from Sam French we had, it sounds so dumb. Sounds so dramatic. We had six months to live meaning we had enough money to live and subsist for six months in New York City, he and his apartment, me and mine, and we finished the fix and went to our eight then agent and said, We would like this to go to Cameron Mackintosh. Luckily, we had been introduced our general manager on Zombie Prom said, Hey, boys, I really love Zombie Prom. You are great. If you ever have any think you’d be that would be right for Cameron. He and I are pals and bing, bing, bing. I thought okay, I’ll keep that in mind. So our agent was like, Oh, guys, you know, this is really, you know, I don’t know, you only have one chance at a situation like this. But I knew. I just knew, you know that thing where you just know. And so he, I said, Look, we have connection with him through our friend. We’re probably going to submit it to him. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it. That’s fine. We’ll we’ll get it to him. And then he sort of did a very graceful backpedal and said, Don’t worry, I’ll do it. I’ll take care of it. I’ll get it out today. And within a week, I got a phone call from my agent. He says, Dana, are you sitting down? I said, Yeah. What’s up? He said, Well, Cameron Mackintosh wants to produce the fix. And he already has dates arranged at the Donmar Warehouse and Sam Mendez is going to direct it. I don’t know if you know, Sam, but he’s Oh,

Achim Nowak  19:20

I sure do. Do you know he’s better known as a film director these days but he was the odd shot theater director at the time, right.

Dana P. Rowe  19:28

He was he really really was and it could not have been more of a Cinderella story. If I tried and I remember looking up at the ceiling of my apartment, my illegal sublet on 45th Street and going wow, it’s not going to be I don’t think the same from now on. And it wasn’t. It wasn’t in fact, the opening night of the fix. I got to tell you this the other night of the fix. Cameron introduced me to a gentleman. His name was Lionel Bart. He’s the one who wrote off Oliver Yeah. And I thought, oh my gosh, the man who inspired me to write one of these of my own was that my opening night was full circle moment.

Achim Nowak  20:11

eautiful, a writer who’s an entrepreneur, but very spiritual void, a friend and well on Faisal hawk. He has a book out that you wrote seven years ago called, everything connects, and everything does connect. And but it’s our job to notice, right? I mean, this was an obvious one, it was hard to miss. Right, but so many other things connect. But the other thing that struck me about your story is that, because I think it relates to the work you’re doing as a coach, as well, this is you said, I’ve had this knowing or the sense that, yeah, Cameron Mackintosh might be right. You know, because also to be able to say, like, this is out of your league, but you know, bravo.

Dana P. Rowe  20:54

It hasn’t always been that way. I mean, one thing that I will say is that in moments like that, that are crystallin. And, you know, I can also, you know, kind of go back and take another and give you another.to Connect, as, you know, I went to London the first time in the late 80s, with my then partner, and we were, we went to see the show called Les Miz. Lame is absolutely gutted me for whatever reason, whether it was just that it was a big old dramatic show, and it was musical theater, and it just moved me and and it was at the theater called the palace. And I remember we came out and I was sitting on the steps of the palace, which I that makes me very happy to say that because it’s very much from Sondheim’s show, into the woods sitting on the steps of the palace, blubbering, and my guy said, Honey, are you okay? And I said, No, you have no idea. I know what I’m supposed to do now. And then less than 10 years later, Cameron was producing my show.

Achim Nowak  22:04

Word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast www.my, fourth active.com, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups were cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. We, of course, could spend hours in this lane of the conversation. And I feel like I’m being just a cruel host by depriving our listeners and myself by going on. But what really interests me maybe to frame it up properly. Listeners is so you have a strong public identity as a successful musical theater composer recognized, you know, well produced. How did this yearning or inkling or interesting maybe I want to do some coaching to where did that come from? I’m really curious.

Dana P. Rowe  23:16

Oh, I think you know, I sort of spoke just briefly about it earlier in that it was that big old crash and burn the crash and burn of 2002 Really, I mean, at that point, the Witches of Eastwick which was the other show that Cameron produced, had was in Japan and gone to Melbourne Australia it was on its way to being not only translated into Japanese but into sort of what is what do they speak in Slovenia slot slot Oh, this is terrible. I feel speaker Slavic languages a Slavic language in Slovenia, and so is on its way to being in now it’s over 13 language, but I became disenchanted with the promise that I thought the universe was, you know, required to give me I don’t know I just was Broadway or Yeah, super duper, you know, the next this the next that could financial stability forever and never having uncertainty in my life again, which is, you know, I don’t know, I’m doing a lot of work around trauma. Now, this is a little bit of a side note. And now I realized that we all respond to different moments in our life, depending on our resiliency at the time. For whatever reason, it was not a good time for me that way. So I sort of really made some really bad decisions around drugs and just you know, I had a moment where I call it my checking out place. And but I came back from that I think we do have a moment when you go wow, this is not so great. But I it may not have been my first inclination to do that. But it is my second inclination to come out of that, and to find my way out with a lot of help with a lot of love. As I was doing that, I realized, I’m always much happier. I’m in a better place. It’s kind of selfish, really, when I am not, in my own head completely an utterly tunnel vision on my career as a composer or in the arts, life opens up for me. When I’m helping others, first of all, there’s just that amazing, gratifying fulfilling moment when you see someone that you’ve been working with, spread their wings and fly. I mean, there’s just nothing you know what it’s like, there’s nothing like it, nothing like it in the world. It really is a parallel passion. For me. It is.

Achim Nowak  25:49

I appreciate the way you spoke about it. But my sense is you went a step further in the sense. You said, Well, I want to be I think you’re a certified coach. You. So you didn’t just dabble in it, you made there was an inner commitment to it. So how did you get to the inner commitment? Part two, because then my sense is based on what we spoke is, once you commit to something is usually has worked out for you, right?

Dana P. Rowe  26:19

Yeah, it really has. I mean, when I look back, it hasn’t always been easy, but it certainly did work out and it was worthwhile. There’s that whole thing of like, when you if it’s worth doing is worth doing well and worth doing right. And also, I always showed up as a coach, whether it was a vocal coach, whether it was director in a theatrical production, whether I was working with a cast, who was doing my show, I was coaching them in ways that I wanted to be intentional about it. I wanted to honor the fact that somebody was presenting to me here, I want you to help me with this. I believe that it’s my responsibility at that point, to know how to do it right, and how to do it well, and to challenge them. I’m not just going to be a cheerleader, you know, it’s about really challenging them to be the best that they can possibly be.

Achim Nowak  27:20

I just have a story, flipping into my head that relates to it overlaps, musical coaching and other coaching. So when I was 22, my acting teacher sent me to a vocal coach in Washington, DC. Her name was Charlie McLean bazefield. She was an old African American GrandAm had been in the original cast of Porgy and Bess. And I just remember scanning dirt, and I’m a horrible singer. I’m not being humble about it. I should not be singing in public. But I remember this, I’m 22. Here’s this elder lady dressed to the nines, like a diva, the pearls, the whole thing. And she looks at me and just said, breathe from your penis. And I’m tried and she said this. For years, she kept saying breathe from your penis. And I sort of got what she wanted. And to me, it’s a beautiful analogy, which is about going deep into your core, your essence, your soul and operate from that. And the other part, I’m telling this to you as relating to the coaching work we do. After about nine months, she said, There’s nothing else I can do for you. She said, you have this rigid German upbringing. I’m going to send you to a hypnotherapist who has sought for six sessions. And I didn’t even know what he was doing. But a year later, I remember I was lying on the floor of some auditorium. I had a role in Midsummer Night’s Dream somewhere. And I suddenly heard my voice and my voice had changed. And so she understood that something else had to be unlocked. Which the hypnotherapy did. I literally I have a deep voice now. That’s because of the hypnotherapy. And I might actually do reasonably well with a vocal coach right now. But a metaphor to the depth of the work we do as coaches. Right.

Dana P. Rowe  29:12

Right. It’s a it’s such an inside job, right? It has to come from way well, deep down inside. I love that that’s actually really kind of delightful. Again, delightful.

Achim Nowak  29:25

No, my sense is, and this is based on obviously, reading your website and what you do and but I like for you to speak to it. Because you’re a seasoned creative person yourself. You’ve had a great measure of success. And as you said, you also crashed and burned and came back and you’re supporting other creatives around, maybe fully more fully expressing their gifts, being able to change the story of what they can do in the world and having a larger expression of their gifts. This is my sense of what you do. Am I getting that right Getting it

Dana P. Rowe  30:00

right on. Yes. Right. So give us a glimpse

Achim Nowak  30:03

of if you have to maybe tell the story of one person where you go, this is how it shifted for them. You don’t have to mention their name, this can be anonymous, but but this is how they started. And this is what needed to happen for them to, to get to where maybe Spirit wanted them to go. And we just have to help them get there.

Dana P. Rowe  30:23

Like, it is about and you just mentioned it. You’re so intuitive I came I it’s really delightful to speak, easy to talk to it’s very well, it is you mentioned story. And it really is so important. I think if there’s anything I help them do is embrace their story. See who they are, there are two buckets really I think of it and they sort of whoops, they both sit in a larger bucket. One is for the creative entrepreneurs, helping them understand that they are product on the economic market, if you will, there. They are also here, not only to create art, but they’re here. You might hear the knocking of my radiator, just

Achim Nowak  31:07

I hear something I don’t mind.

Dana P. Rowe  31:12

I’m living in New York City and our building is like 120 years old. That’s the original issue. But so the creative entrepreneurs, they really get the artsy part of it down. The creative, the creative part, the flow, they understand what it means and they understand the full, you know, just the most amazing, exhilarating experience of creating something that was never there before. What they don’t always get is the business side of it. You know, there are I don’t know how many hundreds of 1000s of performers and entertainers in the United States alone who probably don’t make more than 25 or $30,000 a year. So to me, there’s a passion there, there’s a commitment there for me to help them understand that there are ways they can stand out their ways they can create an income. And with that comes a lot of inner work. There’s a lot of self limiting beliefs and ways of helping them do that. Helping them embrace their story, the very things that they shy away from probably the things that would make them stand out and invaluable to others. So helping them identify those things. For the you know, my beloved business folk who are in the world of corporate, who are business leaders. They know what it means to run a business startup. And by the way, just another little side note is like every show I’ve ever written is a startup, it has to make sense as a business. And that’s one of the first things we do is design, you know, what is the life or trajectory of this project. So for my business folks, it’s about embracing the creative part, it’s about in embracing their story, good bad highs, lows, they that’s what differentiates them from the other people who do exactly what they do. And helping them find that refine that I didn’t say, you know, mine refine and make it shine and that is career gold.

Achim Nowak  33:19

Now I’m going to say go to I think this might be the harder part and coaching creatives. Do you ever find folks where maybe their ambition exceeds their current skill level, and maybe part of for them to succeed? They need more training, they need more development. And part of your job is to hold up the mirror and say your passion your mission is great. Here’s where maybe you’re not getting XYZ.

Dana P. Rowe  33:47

Yeah, I mean, I would never want to step on someone’s dream. However, I mean, I think back to my my first year in music school, Indiana University School of Music and I, I was a double performance, major voice and to piano and I got in somehow, you know that way? My voice teacher I remember saying to him, so what do you think it was about, you know, three months into my first semester and it goes, you have a nice voice. And I love what I have a nice voice This is Yeah, it’s nice. It’s, you know, it’s not world class. It has its big sounding, but it’s not big. But it’s nice. You can teach you’ll probably perform here and there. And I was like, I don’t want to hear this. But you know, he actually did me a favor. It immediately started me thinking about well, I still love to sing I still love singing I still love to play the piano. How might I combine those and that’s really what sort of sent me on the path of being a vocal coach.

Achim Nowak  34:51

It sounds I mean, I this is a cliche, but you know, a little bit of tough love liberated you In a whole other way, right? Yeah.

Dana P. Rowe  35:02

And or, yes, thank you. It did. It truly did. I mean, it was one of those things where I went, alright, well, then what can I do? You know, and little did I know that eventually I was going to be writing my own shows, I really didn’t have a clue at that point. With the folks who may need a little more training, I have to be really honest with you. Those are not the folks that I generally am working with. These are people who are really quite accomplished, and not that I wouldn’t. But even the folks who are very accomplished, I encourage them to have multiple streams of income. And there’s something about that not only just financial stability, because they may be really wonderful writers, wonderful actors, I just extraordinary, talented folks. But having that multiple stream of income those multiple interests, makes them a better performer makes them a better writer makes it I will always encourage them to do that.

Achim Nowak  36:08

I’ve learned in my own life, when I worry about paying my bills, it does not positively impact my creativity. So it just makes sense. What you said, when we had a little chat before we recorded you had said something that just delighted me. Because you know, we talked about we’re going to talk about and you said oh, I know my gay grandpa, and you said it with great joy. That was like your face was beaming. So as we wrap up, what does it look like for you to be a gay grandpa? And how did that happen? And how does that feed your life and your soul?

Dana P. Rowe  36:47

How long you got? Because

Achim Nowak  36:50

for that one I have, oh, well,

Dana P. Rowe  36:53

okay, so I’m a child of the 70s. And let me tell you something that as much as I knew from the time I was a little boy that I was gay. And I didn’t even have a word for it at that point. But I always do. Also, I always wanted to be a dad. I wanted a family in the 70s. That’s what you did. You know, you found some you found a woman that you loved and said, Hey, let’s have kids. Let’s do this and late 70s That’s exactly what what happened. Then, of course, you know, we grow we learn. It was also a time of great naivete for me, you know, I really, you know, had no clue that you just don’t do that. It’s not going to be something you can just brush aside. So through many sort of conversations, and much sort of heartache, it was like, I think this, we split up, we went our separate ways. And for a long time, I have to tell you, I came I was beating myself up, I thought, How stupid of me how awful of me to impact. By that time, we’d had two children. And I was a dad, and that I have to say, of all of my accomplishments, that’s the one that lights up my heart. So I was pretty much I was pretty rough on myself. Then when they were actually quite young, and we were friends. You know, my ex wife and I, and she was really young. And she died. She died of lymphoma. And it was at that point that I realized, and of course, I see my children now and how it’s just, you know, they’re the best. And I realized that it wasn’t a mistake at all. Yeah, I was supposed to be there, dad. So that’s the story of becoming a father, as a gay man in the 70s 80s 90s 2000s. And again, I was a late bloomer, I finally found the guy. I’ve my husband, you know, just about 10 years ago, who was really and truly grandfather dead. He is now my co grandpa. We have three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. And they just liked us both up. What does it look like? It’s kind of like there’s nothing better. And of course, that’s from my view. You know, there are I’m sure, other people would argue, but for me, it’s pretty wonderful. And I have as I said, I have two wonderful adult children who love me and it was meant to be

Achim Nowak  39:32

I mean, I just I think our listeners will get that you and I just met the other day, but I, you exude radiant kind of energy. My sense is that’s just who you are. You don’t work at it. It’s effortless. You come across as a very lovable human beings so why wouldn’t your children love you? Right? It just makes sense to me. Yeah. Whoa. Last question that I asked every guest and this is not meant to rewrite Your story of your life but it based on what you know now today at your age if you had a chance to to whisper a few words of wisdom into the ears of young Dana, when he was eight or nine and getting a role in all of her What would you want him to know about life?

Dana P. Rowe  40:25

To me the other day, it’s interesting you’re asking would be if you’re confused, it’s probably not right. No. When it’s right, it makes them they don’t choose to be confused.

Achim Nowak  40:46

Ah, beautiful. So if our listeners want to find out more about your music, your work your your coaching for other creatives, where should they go?

Dana P. Rowe  40:58

They can go to Danaprowe.com. If they want to go straight to the coaching danarowe.com/coach. I go to my website, It’s all there. If they want to know more about you know, mining and refining and making their story shine embracing it. They can go to sparkstorytelling.biz. Which is another thing that I beautiful art of what I do.

Achim Nowak  41:28

Thank you so much for the gift of this conversation. I completely enjoyed it.

Dana P. Rowe  41:32

Oh, it was mutual. Thank you. Thank you so much. Goodbye.

Achim Nowak  41:39

Like what you heard, please go to my fourth act.com And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao

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