Lessons from Showbiz

It’s been said that everyone in America has two careers: Their own business. And show business.

Lessons_from_Showbiz-11I actually started my career in showbusiness. No, I didn’t kick the Can Can in the Follies Bergere or perform death-defying stunts on the high trapeze. I worked in the shadows. The pits. The dimly-lit, back-up orchestras. For better than two decades, I was a freelance guitarist, arranger, and conductor for Las Vegas stage shows, touring Broadway companies, and short-run theatre musicals all across the U.S.

From 1972-1995, I backed up such showbiz luminaries as Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, Rich Little, Pearl Bailey, Theresa Brewer, Paul Williams, Mitzi Gaynor, Julie Andrews, Garrison Keillor, Roger Williams, Doc Severinson, Danny Gans, Abba and more. I was in the pit for touring companies of such classic musicals as “Funny Girl”, A Chorus Line”, and “Godspell”. And conducted shows in Vegas and around the U.S.

During those years, I was privileged to gain unique insight into the work of some of the best performers in showbiz. And while I rarely saw a show from the front, I actually had the best seat in the house. Because, from over the shoulder of a world-class performer, I could take-in the audience’s response to the performance—song by song … line by line … night after night. Call it my grad school in communication.

Great performers have an uncanny ability to connect with an audience. They have a knack for getting audiences to believe in their dreams … to lose themselves in their stories … to lift their spirits with a song. From elegant symphony halls, to swanky Vegas showrooms, to mammoth outdoor events, intimate cabarets and a few dive bars… as I observed these celebrated entertainers utilize their unique talents, the principles of connecting with an audience began to make themselves apparent. Soon after I began producing business communications, I realized that these principles apply equally well in corporate venues like sales meetings, franchise conventions and event marketing.

Over the coming months, I’ll share some examples.


Rick Cornish creates communications that inform, influence and inspire… helping organizations increase sales, promote unity and persuade their people to embrace change. Working in video, corporate meetings, event marketing and more; Rick delivers purposeful creative that drives business results and builds stronger brands.

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