We had the good fortune of connecting with Regina Thorne-DuBois and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Regina, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Brand success is something that I believe is difficult to define. Is your brand successful when it’s the most in-demand thing? Or is your brand successful when your vision for it becomes reality, money and popularity be damned? I believe in my case, the success of The Broad’s Way stems from the latter. In the early stages of my drag career, it was clear to me that performing musical theatre is what I wanted to do with my art. However, the majority of drag shows/bars/show directors don’t look for that type of performance style when booking their shows. So for a while, I had to suck it up and perform styles I wasn’t “into” in order to gain the “success” that so many drag performers craved. And while that led to plenty of bookings & tips, it wasn’t “success” to me. When I started devoting more of my time to creating and refining The Broad’s Way (an all-musical theatre revue show, featuring both singers and drag performers) *then* I began to find true success. By directing my energy into improving the show, building the cast, & creating the art that WE wanted to make, we cultivated an audience. Within a year, we managed to build the most consistently-popular Monday night show in the city. With the help of my amazing resident company & dedicated supporters, we not only started a secondary spin-off brunch show, but have also toured our show up to Dallas and Ft Worth. Success is relative, and can incredibly illusive. It comes in waves, and sometimes you won’t know you’ve succeeded until some time has passed. For me, having a dedication vision of what success looks like is what got me to where I am now. If I had to label it down to a specific “factor,” it would be that I knew what I wanted to do with my brand, and refused to let others tell me it wasn’t profitable, The strength you can gain from having someone tell you “no you can’t succeed with that” will astound you. Harness that strength, refine your craft, and prove the naysayers wrong. Build the success that YOU want, don’t let others define it for you.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m blessed and cursed to be a working professional with two passions. By day, I work as a stage manager when I can (aka when theatres are open…), and at night Regina becomes the star. While I keep both worlds relatively separate, each career affects the other. As a drag queen, I’ve been commended on my ability to run a show smoothly, administrate, and direct a team. Much of this comes from my education & practical experience as a stage manager. Being able to juggle all the details in a play or musical is just as much of a monster as scheduling 13 different performers AND booking special guests AND formatting shows AND creating performances AND dealing with payroll AND the list goes on. My role as show director comes so naturally to me because of my work as an SM. Amazingly, my job as stage manager has also blossomed because of Regina. To me, Regina equals strength. She’s the armor I get to put on when I go out & face an audience. So, when a cast of actors and designers and a director and crew are all looking at you, the stage manager, to make a decision, the pressure is just as intense as standing in front of an audience of drunk adults in a heckling mood. It took harnessing my confidence as Regina to begin trusting my instincts as a stage manager. When I started doing both jobs at the same time, I did the best I could to keep “Drag Regina” and “Stage Manager [redacted]” separate. Figuring out that was a bad idea turned out to be my biggest lesson. If you have strengths, find a way to marry them. Don’t compartmentalize what you’re good at. The combined product is something to behold. I’ve also learned that you are not defined by your failures. As a working director & manager in my mid-twenties, I know I have & will continue to fail. It’s human, it’s expected, and while it’s not necessarily welcome, it’s ALWAYS an opportunity to grow and become better. I have made mistakes in both careers, big and small. Sometimes they affected just me, sometimes my cast, sometimes on a much, MUCH larger scale. But I believe that how you recover from failure is what defines you as a leader. My story is as much my failures as it is my successes. Embracing it all is what makes me, me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
(Imagine. It’s 2021. COVID vaccine has been administered, it’s a Biden/Harris Administration, things are somewhat okay again) Places to hit: Michael’s Outpost, obviously. The home of The Broad’s Way, as well a host of other fantastic shows throughout the week & weekend. Hermann Park. I recently moved nearby and haven’t been taking advantage of it, but it was always a place I would take visitors to at least once while they were in town. Not the zoo though… Sam Houston National Forest. It’s’ a little bit of a drive out, but I absolutely love hiking & trail-walking, so it’s one of the closest spots to go that fits the bill. Stages Rep Theatre. Stages has always been home to some of my favorite plays in the city, so it’s at the top of a long list of theatres people MUST visit. Theatre Under the Stars. Goundbreaking, the musical theatre queen is going to recommend Houston’s home for musical theatre. Munch & Crunch: Twisted Grilled Cheese. You’ll thank me later. La Fendee. Get the gyro plate & double your pita order, you’ll thank me AGAIN. Empire Cafe. Cute energy, good food, GREAT drinks. Again, there’s so much more, but these are the big ones in my circle of Houston.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
You could give me 10,000 characters to Shoutout people who have helped make The Broad’s Way successful and it wouldn’t be enough. Nothing I have achieved would have been possible without their support, and no modicum of success is worth it without them to share in it. First and foremost, every member of the resident company of performers who have made & continue to make the show a success. The Broad’s Way is so much more than me, it’s Amanda Marie Parker, Athena Sapphire, Carmina Vavra, Chelsea Lerner, Jarred Popoff, Lauren Salazar, Marcus Hooks, Ronna Mansfield, Roofie DuBois, Seth Cunningham, Sloane Teagle, Suttyn-Leigh Seymour, Taelon Stonecipher, and Wesley Whitson. Each of them bring their own unique talents, skills, and ideas to the company that help create the best product we can. They are, without a doubt, the true magic of The Broad’s Way. What successful show would thrive without an audience? I am beyond grateful to all of our regulars, but specifically Alicia, Cullen, Lexie, David, Jerry, Tommy, Julie, Aili, Thomas, Jason, and so so so many others. There’s one in particular that I have to showcase though, and that’s Miranda Madole. She’s been a fan of the show since our 2nd month of operation (that means she’s been around for over THREE YEARS NOW), has photographed & recorded almost every show we’ve done for the last two and a half-ish years, co-operates our social media, has toured with us to DFW, films almost all of our digital content with us, and has become a friend & family member to each of us. She’s the original member of the Squadsway, and is as loved & appreciated as much as any company member. Lastly I have to Shoutout the mentors who helped me get to this point. Irene DuBois taught me the power in doing drag your own way. Leon Kaplan taught me the dedication it takes to run a show. Steve Barrett (my dad) taught me the firmness that leadership requires to move forward, alongside Lisa Barrett (my mom) teaching me the kindness that leadership requires to build a supportive team. Sam Barrett (my sister) taught me that I’m an absolute badass (feel free to censor if needed…) and I never need to settle for less than I’m worth. My best friend Aiden taught me the true meaning of building a “chosen family” and has become the brother I never knew I needed. I am what I am because of each of these people and more. I stand as tall as I do because of them. Each success is also theirs, and my gratitude to each of them cannot be measured.
Other: www.twitch.tv/TheBroadsWayHTX, the current place to watch our show every week at 9pm CDT.
Images by Miranda Madole, Regina Thorne-DuBois, Gavin Calais, @oathovoblivion, Thomas Kub