• Jeffrey Feola

To Broadway and Back...

During an assembly in High School, circa 2002, a speaker spoke about college, our futures, and what "could be".

The speaker asked us to look to the left of us, and then to the right. As we took in our classmates for one of the final times, the speaker explained that of the two people we looked at, one would go to college, one could drop out or venture down a completely different path.

At that moment, I felt a spotlight hit me. It was coming from directly above me. This wasn't a spotlight that anyone in the auditorium could see. I could see it though. I felt, in that moment, the universe telling me, "you will be one of the ones that goes to college, and you will be one of the ones that goes all the way. You are destined for greatness." In that moment, I knew there was no turning back.

Yes, I understand how pretentious that sounds, but from that moment on, I knew that anything I wanted could be mine. Not easily. I had no expectations that anything would be handed to me, nor did I want that.

I wanted to learn.

I wanted to work.

I knew I would have to climb the ladder towards success. I wanted to climb. I wanted to build relationships. .

I was, and still am, so much more interested in the journey, rather than the destination.

Rewind from 2002 to 1997.

Sadie Hawkins dance. School Auditorium.

Slow dancing with my date of the opposite sex, enjoying myself, I suppose.

Until something happened.

I heard a piece of music that shook me to my core, so hard, that almost 30 years later still affects me.

The first 10 seconds of Celine Dion's epic ballad - It's All Coming Back To Me Now sent lightning bolts down my spine.

I spent the years falling in love with this artist. I'll save you the obsessive stories of being a super fan. But, like that day when I felt the spotlight hit me, It was in those few years after this 1997 experience that I knew it would only be a matter of time until I was shoulder to shoulder with Celine Dion and I would get the opportunity to tell her the impact she had on me.

It happened.

While visiting my dearest friend in LA, we decided to attend a taping of The Price Is Right and it happened. I felt that light again, something telling me, it's going to be you.

The spotlight was right.

Maybe I was just meant to be in the spotlight without being IN the spotlight. I never had a back-up plan. The plan was to not fail. And if I did fail, I learned. So either way, I won.

I share these stories, not to brag, not looking for attention - I'm looking to share a message.

See something in yourself.

Make yourself the you that YOU want to be. Maybe the spotlight was never even there to begin with, but perhaps I WANTED to see it. I wanted to feel like, maybe, I was special and that good things were going to happen to me.

You, we, US - we have that power. The power to make what we want out of this little life.

College. NYC.

Love, Loss, Experiences.

A passion for producing, managing, and creating theatre fueled me.

I was born for this.

The career snowballed. Off Broadway rolled into an Out of Town Try out in Chicago, that turned into Broadway, that turned into National Tours, that turned into, finally, Hamilton.

and then...


Shattered. Closed. Devastated and depressed.

Back to Western PA I went.

The once place I never wanted to go back to. Years on the road in nice hotels and rental cars - why would I EVER go back?

The place I never felt like I fit in. The place that I never felt accepted.

The place where there was never anything to do.

Why would I stay?

"As soon as Covid is over, I'm going back on the road." I thought.

But then. I felt it again. The spotlight. The magical light above me, that only I could feel was telling me something.

I looked around. I still can't believe what I see. Crumbling buildings. An economy in need. A lifeless downtown. A blank canvas.

The last 20 years, I thought was "work", but really...it was training.

The work and the implementation is starting now. More to come on that. More to come on new spotlights, new projects.

But for now, I'm back in the place where it all began. I am writing from the very room where I was inspired by Broadway Musicals, and where I decided I wanted to live in NYC.

If I ever go looking for my hearts desire again

I won't look any further than my own backyard...

.....to be continued.

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