fbpx
Skip to content

WDW Radio # 737 – Interview With Character: Disney Cast Member Rob Lott

Join me this week as I sit down with Cast Member Rob Lott as he shares his journey, story, and lessons from onstage, backstage, and even as a friend of some of your favorite characters. From the Hoop Dee Doo to the Dapper Dans to Tokyo Disney Sea, we discuss not just his career, but the hows and whys of creating Disney magic.

In this episode, Rob shares his journey in show business, specifically his experiences as a performer and puppeteer at Walt Disney World. We discuss Rob’s background, his childhood dream of being in show business, and the support he received from his family.

We also touch upon Rob’s time working at Tokyo Disney Sea, his role in Turtle Talk with Crush, the dynamics of the ensemble cast in the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, and the importance of creating memorable moments for guests. Rob also talks about his post-Disney career, coaching, consulting, and creative development services. The episode concludes with Rob offering advice to aspiring performers.

The story of Rob Lott gives us a glimpse into the world of show business. Born and raised in a small town of Green, Ohio, Rob had clear aspirations from a young age. He was drawn to the stage, the theatre lobbies, the people, and the magic that takes place behind the curtains. Despite having a secure path towards Ohio State University marching band, Rob decided to take a chance and audition for a role at Walt Disney World. With luck on his side and the talent to back it up, Rob landed a puppeteer role at Disney’s ‘Legend of the Lion King’. This opportunity opened doors for Rob towards other shows like ‘Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends’, ‘Voyage of the Little Mermaid’, and ‘Bear in the Big Blue House’. His passion for show business even transcended international boundaries when he became a part of the barbershop quartet, Dockside Porters, in Tokyo Disney Sea. Rob Lott’s tale is an exemplary illustration of turning passion into a career. Rob Lott’s tale is an exemplary illustration of turning passion into a career, and he shares practical advice for those looking to pursue their own dreams.

KEY MOMENTS

  • The Journey to Walt Disney World [00:01:14]
    Rob talks about his experience auditioning for and getting a job at Walt Disney World’s Hoop Dee Doo Review.
  • The Start of Rob’s Career at Walt Disney World [00:03:55]
    Rob shares how he got hired as a puppeteer at Walt Disney World and his role in the show “Legend of the Lion King.”
  • Rob’s Interest in Puppetry [00:06:06]
    Rob discusses his fascination with puppetry, including his love for the Muppets and ventriloquist Ron Lucas, and how he learned to be a puppeteer.
  • Shout out to supportive parents [00:10:17]
    Discussion on the importance of parents supporting and encouraging their children’s passions and interests.
  • Rob’s journey to working at Walt Disney World [00:11:12]
    Rob’s experience of starting his career at Walt Disney World right after high school with the support of his parents.
  • Performing at various shows at Walt Disney World [00:14:35]
    Rob’s roles as a performer and puppeteer in shows like “The Legend of the Lion King,” “Pocahontas and her Forest Friends,” “Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” and “Bear in the Big Blue House Live on Stage.”
  • The Tokyo Disney Experience [00:20:59]
    Rob discusses his experience working at Tokyo Disney Sea, including going to the parks every day and the cultural differences he encountered.
  • Language and Cultural Challenges [00:22:29]
    Rob talks about the challenges and expectations of performing in English at Tokyo Disney Sea, as well as the cultural differences he encountered.
  • Respecting Cultural Norms [00:25:12]
    Rob shares a story about the importance of respecting cultural norms and following the expectations of the Japanese culture while working at Tokyo Disney Sea.
  • The excitement of performing on stage [00:31:51]
    The speaker discusses their excitement and joy when they have the opportunity to perform on stage and receive responses from the audience.
  • The unique experience of Turtle Talk with Crush [00:32:48]
    The speaker talks about the unique mix of scripted lines and improvisation in Turtle Talk with Crush and the special moments created for guests, including a one-on-one conversation with a child.
  • Creating memorable moments at the Hoop Dee Doo Review [00:41:10]
    The speaker shares their journey of getting the role of Six Bits in the Hoop Dee Doo Review and the comedic element that helps bind the cast together.
  • Flora Long’s Role [00:43:27]
    Flora Long’s role as the voice of reason at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue and the reliance of the cast on each other.
  • Ensemble Cast Mentality [00:44:26]
    The adoption of an ensemble cast mentality at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, where everyone supports each other and pushes each other to shine.
  • Sustaining Enthusiasm and Energy [00:49:20]
    How the cast of the Hoop Dee Doo Revue sustains their level of enthusiasm and energy for multiple shows per night, every day of the year.
  • The responsibility of being interesting on stage [00:54:38]
    Rob discusses the shift in mentality from trying to be interesting on stage to being interested in what is happening around him.
  • The sense of legacy in Hoop Dee Doo [00:56:14]
    Lou and Rob talk about the unique sense of legacy that Hoop Dee Doo has, and the responsibility of carrying on the show for both performers and audience members.
  • The on-the-spot creation of content in live shows [01:01:25]
    Lou and Rob discuss the spontaneous and creative nature of live shows, where performers have to quickly come up with content based on audience interactions.
  • The birth of Blue Trumpet Creative [01:06:05]
    Rob discusses how he started Blue Trumpet Creative during the COVID-19 pandemic to help teachers and performers transition to virtual platforms.
  • Coaching, consulting, and creative development [01:07:48]
    Rob explains the three main services offered by Blue Trumpet Creative: coaching to remove anxiety and nervousness, consulting to improve team dynamics, and creative development for various projects.
  • Creating memorable experiences with Blue Trumpet Creative [01:09:58]
    Rob shares an example of a creative project he worked on with Blue Trumpet Creative, involving a flash mob proposal with singers and musicians.
  • [01:17:04] – Pursuing Opportunities and Kindness in the Performing Industry
    Rob discusses the importance of saying yes to every opportunity, being kind, and gaining as much experience as possible in the performing industry.
  • [01:17:44] – Planning Another Night at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
    Lou suggests organizing another event at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue to gather people and enjoy the performance with Rob and the rest of the cast and crew.

Thanks to Rob Lott for joining me this week. You can find Rob on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robalott and at Blue Trumpet Creative

Have you ever seen the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue? Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.



Comment and share your questions, thoughts, and tips in our WDW Radio Clubhouse Community on Facebook or call the Voicemail and be heard “On the Air” at 407-900-9391

Listen to this week’s show and use the form below to enter our weekly trivia contest for a chance to WIN a Disney Prize Package!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Street, City, State, Zip Code
Book your trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Destination… or anywhere through our friends at Mouse Fan Travel. Contact them for a free, no-obligation quote!


Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello (00:00:02) - It takes people to make the dream a reality. And for a company that is rooted in storytelling, it's the people who are the storytellers, both on stage and off. And there is an art and artistry to sharing the gift of bringing laughter and joy to countless people of multiple generations from around the world that come to visit the Disney parks. And one of those talented performers and artists is my next guest, Rob Lott. You may not know him by name yet, but I know you know many of his friends. So I want to welcome actor, director, reader, writer, thinker, podcaster and according to him, a speaker upper Mr. Rob Lott. Rob, welcome to the show.

Rob Lott (00:00:57) - Thank you so much, Lou. I'm so happy to be here. I was. Yeah. We'll get to this in a little bit. But I. I remember standing on stage and seeing you out in the house and I had an opportunity to make my plea from the stage to be on the show, and I took my shot.

Rob Lott ([00:01:14]) - And so here we are.

Lou Mongello ([00:01:15]) - Here we are. And so to be clear, the stage you are talking about is the stage of.

Rob Lott ([00:01:20]) - The Hoop dee doo review.

Lou Mongello (00:01:22) - Yeah. So we'll we'll get to that. That was a it was for me. I'll tell you, man, that was like such a fun, cool. Very unexpected. Right? We we've sort of met before, but we've never actually spoken. So. Yeah, this is this is going to be a fun, interesting, I think, conversation. So let's start with you. Right? Let's I'm a I'm a big fan of sort of the the superhero origin story. So tell me about, you know, the little kid from Ohio that just, you know, stars in his eyes that dreamt of being in show business.

Rob Lott (00:01:56) - Yeah. So I absolutely that's exactly what it is. That's exactly what it is. That's exactly what it was. I grew up in a town. It's a city now, But at the time, it was a it was a small town of Green, Ohio.

Rob Lott (00:02:09) - And I've long said, you know, I grew up in green Ohio. I went to Green High School where our colors are orange and black. And, you know, it was just that kind of a city, that kind of a small town that was like, we don't need to we don't need to explain ourselves. This is just who we are. This is what we do. And, you know, I was I was about I want to say I was about like 4 or 5 generations Ohio. And, you know, it was just one of those things in the Midwest, you you are born, you are raised, you grow up, you live and you work and you die there in that same place. You know, nobody I shouldn't say nobody, but it's just, you know, it's a very common thing to just stay where you are, live your life there. And I knew that I wanted to do other things. I've known from a very I'm a very rare breed of people that has always known what he wanted to do, and that is that I wanted to be in show business in some way, shape or form.

Rob Lott (00:03:00) - And I didn't I didn't care if it was on stage backstage, you know, just I just wanted to be around it. I wanted to be around those people. I wanted to be around what was happening on the stage. I was drawn to it. I was drawn to stage doors. I was drawn to theater lobbies. I was drawn to just I just want to be there. I just want to be around it. And there wasn't, you know, I grew up in a community that certainly valued the arts. And at the same time, there wasn't a whole lot of opportunity to make that my living. And so when the time came and I graduated from high school, I was all set and ready to go to Ohio State and I was going to play in the Ohio State University marching band. And that was the plan. That was the goal. I was going to study music and and, you know, find find my find my way that way. But it was that summer right after my high school year, my senior year of high school, that I, a buddy of mine said, hey, they're having auditions down in Orlando for some gigs down there to work at Walt Disney World.

Rob Lott (00:03:55) - And Rob, I know you, you like that. You should go down and audition. And so I thought to myself, okay, I'm not going to put all my eggs in this basket. I have a plan here in Ohio. But you know what? I'll go and I'll audition and we'll we'll see what happens. If it's if it's a no, then it's a no. And I'll have my other thing to do. If it's a yes. Great. Um, so I came I went to to audition at Doctor Phillips High School, and they were looking for puppeteers. And I just happened to be right place, right time with the right talent. And I auditioned and they offered me the job right there in the room. And they said, So when can you start? And I said, I don't live here. And they said, okay, so when can you be here? When can you be living here? I said, Can you give me a month? So the audition was in September and I started my first day was on October 16th of the year 2000.

Rob Lott (00:04:51) - I was hired for a show called Legend of The Lion King, where, you know, I see the look on your face. You remember it. And I'm sure a lot of your listeners remember it. It's where Mickey's film Magic is now. And we told the entire story of The Lion King every day, 32 times a day in a in an 18 minute show. We did the entirety of it over and over and over again. And so, yeah, I was at the time when I first started, I played the roles, I started in Mufasa and then went into Scar. I was what was called all the Big Mouth Puppets, so Mufasa into Scar into Adult Simba and yeah, and then I learned some other roles there as well, where I got to learn Cub Simba and then get to do some other fun things with that. And so, yeah, I started out as a puppeteer at Walt Disney World. So wait, I got to stop.

Lou Mongello (00:05:43) - You there, right? Because every kid who might be listeners like Mom, that's what I want to be a puppeteer, too.

Lou Mongello (00:05:49) - So are you are you trained as a puppeteer or like, did you take your Toys R Us, Kermit the Frog puppet and just sit in front of the mirror all day? I'm not saying I did that as a kid, but maybe a couple of times thinking this is that's the one. This is my shot. I am going to have a career as a puppeteer.

Rob Lott (00:06:06) - No, that's the one. Basically, I grew up and, you know, I don't know if I don't know if it was chicken or the egg. I don't know what has drawn me to puppetry. I've always been a fan of good puppetry, you know, Of course, Muppets, of course, Sesame Street. I watched Sesame Street long past when I should have stopped watching Sesame Street. And I think it was it was a couple of things. I enjoyed the writing of the sketches that they would do, like, you know, the kind of the takeoffs and the and the things, you know, making fun of just pop culture at the time, but then making it educational.

Rob Lott (00:06:37) - I enjoyed that, but I also enjoyed the puppetry aspect of it. There's a ventriloquist named Ron Lucas. He had a special that was the number one special for the entire decade on the Disney Channel. It was the number one special for the entire decade of the 1980s on the Disney Channel. And I watched his his special was on after school every day, all the time. And I would come home and I would just watch it over and over and over again and again. Just also a great character creator, great, great ventriloquist, but also a great puppeteer. And so I watched a lot of that. And I've always been good at kind of watching things and being able to emulate it, being able to mimic it, being able to copy it and go, okay, I see what they're doing. And I, I think I can do that myself. And so that was something, yeah, it was exactly. I didn't have any kind of special training other than being able to watch and see it and then being able to copy it and emulate it.

Rob Lott (00:07:32) - But then you get to Walt Disney World and there's a whole team of specialists, literally what are called puppet specialists that teach you all of the shows and all of the teach you all the puppetry for all of the shows. And so shout out to James Tilson, Scott, Tilson James, Don Moyer. These guys got me started and gave me a place to be as a puppeteer there at Walt Disney World. And so, yeah, that was where I started. Well, and.

Lou Mongello (00:07:59) - I like this this story too. And you know, part of what I do from from a business side of things is I love this idea and I know that you were young, but there was there was risk involved, right? Because you were enrolled like you had sort of your, you know, quote unquote, your plan, your roadmap. I was going to go to school. I was going to go do this thing. You now have to say, mom, dad, I'm going to put college on hold. I'm going to go play with puppets in Disney World.

Lou Mongello (00:08:25) - But I do but I love this because it's sort of the what if, right? Because it's the what if it works as opposed to, you know, having the regret years later. What if I would have tried? I wonder what happened, if I would have taken that that opportunity. So at a young age, you know, that's that's a it is a relatively large risk to take in in pursuit of this thing that you knew you wanted to do.

Rob Lott (00:08:48) - Yeah. My I am so I am so blessed and so thankful for the family that I was born into, the parents that raised me. My sister is a is a she's an author. She's a writer. She's a published and has written some some New York Times best selling books. And she is great with that. But she started actually as a second grade teacher. That's what she wanted to be from a very early young age. And and so in having conversations with my older sister, my my mom would say, well, there's really only one way that you get to be a teacher.

Rob Lott (00:09:24) - If that's what you want to do, then you need to go to school and study elementary education and then do your student teaching and you get your teaching certificate and then you are allowed to teach second grade. That is that's the path. That's the only way that it's going to happen for you. Rob You want to work in show business? Uh, there's no one way to do it. And even if you were to go to school for it, even if you were to get. Your degree in theatre or music, there's no guarantee that you get to make a living right away at that. And so they recognize that. And in doing so, they said, Well, here's this opportunity right in front of you. College is always going to be there. It's always going to be available. But here's an opportunity for you to do what you love, do what you're passionate about. Do this thing where your where your passion lies and why wouldn't we support that? So shout out to the parents. I know I'm doing a lot of shout outs here on your show.

Rob Lott (00:10:17) - Shout out to the parents who are supporting and encouraging. There was a there's a a a verse, a Bible verse that my parents had. And it was this idea of raise up a child in the way that they should go. And they something that occurred to them and was was shared with them is going very often parents want to raise a raise up a child in the way that the parent thinks the child should go. Right. But really, if you look at it, if you look at the text, it's raise up a child in the way that they should go, pay attention to their passions, the things they're naturally interested in, the ways that they want to spend their time, pay attention to those things and encourage that push them down that path. And that's what happened. And so that's why I was able to right out of high school, pack up a car. My mom drove down with me. She flew back, left the car with me here in Orlando, and I got started working at Walt Disney World.

Lou Mongello (00:11:12) - I love that man because it's not just the support, but the trust in you and that you knew what you wanted, you knew what you wanted to do. And I tell people all the time sometimes, you know, the support doesn't necessarily come from our parents or siblings or even close friends, but it's finding those people that believe in what you do. As you start to tell the story about your sister, I'm like, he's going to say, you know, your sister is a neurosurgeon and she won a Nobel Peace Prize on the side. So you need to do that, too. You're so but I love the fact that they saw that they saw that vision and then probably got a couple of free hoop tickets as a thank you.

Rob Lott ([00:11:48]) - Well, I will say, yes, it is true. My family, my parents, especially, have not bought a ticket to Walt Disney World in probably since. Yeah, 1999.

Lou Mongello (00:11:57) - And you saved them tuition, too, which is nice. That's right. As having two kids in college now I understand what it would a blessing and benefit that is.

Lou Mongello (00:12:05) - All right so you you're in Legend of the Lion King in fantasy and you're being taught by the best of the best of the best in a place that obviously I'm assuming you had either been to or wanted to visit or loved sort of the Disney parks as a kid.

Rob Lott (00:12:20) - Yeah, so much so. So my mom mentioned her before. My mom is was in the 1980s. She was a a world class top ten in the country, Tupperware sales lady, Tupperware lady. And so, as you might recall, the headquarters of Tupperware are in Kissimmee, Florida. And so it was pretty standard, pretty regular that they would bring everybody to Kissimmee, Florida, from the region and bring everybody down on this side of the country. They would bring everybody everybody here and Orlando would be bombarded with minivans from all all around the country, Tupperware lady minivans filled with their with their their kids and their families. And and so they would do 2 or 3 days of training of here's all the new products for Tupperware and and yes.

Rob Lott (00:13:12) - And then we would treat the rest of the week as vacation and so we would go and visit the parks. At the time my parents would buy the seven day the park hoppers that never expire. So we would use 2 or 3 of those days a year and then come back the next year and use 2 or 3 more days and then come back the next year and just keep adding to as needed. And so yeah, I have very vivid memories of growing up visiting Walt Disney World, not necessarily every summer, but pretty much every summer as I was probably until I was, I want to say probably seven, 8 or 9 years old. And yeah, and my my mom has a story of me sitting on Main Street, USA. I don't necessarily remember this, but sitting on Main Street, USA watching the parade go by. And I looked up at her and I said that I want to do that. And she said, Well, sure. Okay. Yeah.

Lou Mongello (00:14:11) - So I'm still trying to get.

Rob Lott ([00:14:13]) - A little choked up every time I tell that story. Yeah.

Lou Mongello (00:14:15) - As you're telling the story, I'm sort of picturing in my mind's eye the parking lot of the conventions that are just filled with Ford aero stars and mom coming out, spraying stiff stuff in their hair, getting ready to go into the convention centers, dragging, dragging their kids behind. All right. So you're you're a performer at of The Lion King where.

Rob Lott (00:14:35) - The Legend of the Lion King. What is that next? Then there were there were other shows also that I learned as a puppeteer. There's a show called Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends at right there at Animal Kingdom. It was across from where Festival of the Lion King used to be there in Camp Minnie. Mickey. And so I played Grandmother Willow and Sprig for that. And then also learn Voyage of the Little Mermaid. I learned Sebastian for that one, and I also ended up learning Ursula as well. And and then there was also a show called Bear in the Big Blue House live on stage there at Disney.

Rob Lott (00:15:08) - No, I'm going to Disney.

Lou Mongello (00:15:08) - MGM Studios. I'm going to be the one who. Yeah, my kids. We spend a lot of time on the floor of Disney, live on stage and bear in the big house.

Rob Lott (00:15:16) - And yeah, so I was pip and pop to start with the little purple otters. It was one puppeteer that performed both of those characters at the same time, which was it was incredibly it was super fun, but also very challenging because you just had to isolate your right hand from your left hand and have them have these completely different personalities and different, you know, they both would have one. There was a thing called the otter wrap and one guy did the majority of the wrap and the other guy was kind of the hype man behind doing it. So they would both say some things together, but they wouldn't say same the same thing at the same time. And it was it was a very you know, when you when you master the otter wrap, it was like, okay, you've done it.

Rob Lott (00:15:54) - You've done it. You are now a bona fide puppeteer at Walt Disney World. So that and then, yeah, that became Playhouse Disney Live on stage now. Okay, So, so here's what's going on behind the scenes then while all of that is happening is that I'm getting together with a couple of guys just on our own just for fun, and we are singing barbershop harmony and doo wop and rock cappella type stuff, just getting together at each other's houses and somebody has a pitch pipe and we'll just start singing these tunes and bringing stuff from our high school music days and all that stuff. So we're doing that. And lo and behold, there was an audition for Hong Kong Disneyland was about to open, and they were looking for a cast of Dapper Dan's to go there. And so we went. Now we weren't very good. Okay, let me be very clear. We we were not very good. We went and we auditioned and we got about a song and a half in and the casting director waved his hand and thought it for sure it was, Thank you, guys.

Rob Lott (00:16:58) - That's all we need. Off you go. But instead he goes, okay, so here's what I'm going to do. The group that's in Tokyo right now, I'm going to send them to be the Dapper Dan's in Hong Kong. I'm going to send you guys to Tokyo. It's a 13 month contract. All of you need to say yes. I'll give you the month. I'll give you the weekend to think about it. But the contract starts in about a month. Wow. And so we all looked at each other wide eyed and. And so I spent a year then working at Tokyo Disney Sea with the Dockside Porters, which is a barbershop quartet there. So, yeah, these are kind of the kind of the big headline chapters.

Lou Mongello (00:17:33) - Yeah. I mean, we could spend an entire day just talking about Disney Sea. But again, these opportunities that present themselves that you have to sort of almost immediately make this snap decision. You know, it's different going from Ohio to Orlando. It's a little bit more accessible now.

Lou Mongello (00:17:50) - All of a sudden, you need to pick up your life, what you can fit into your carry on bag and go across the world to a country I am assuming you've probably never visited before to in a language that you're probably not all that familiar with. Oh, that is true. Yeah. So talk to me about that experience, what getting to Tokyo is like and even yeah, you know, culturally the the Japanese culture, the Japanese Disney guests, it's sort of very different than it is here in America. Talk to me a little bit about your experience at the most beautiful Disney Park on the planet, I think, which is Disney, see. Yeah.

Rob Lott (00:18:27) - And I, I was not prepared. And listen, if for for listeners that have visited Tokyo Disney and Tokyo Disneyland you get this and I and I've never heard anybody dispute this but for those of you who have not heard who have not visited all of the hype that you hear about these parks and how beautiful and how over the top and how just it is, everything is just extra all the time.

Rob Lott (00:18:55) - Everywhere. Everywhere, all the time. And and so I don't think that we can overstate how beautiful these parks are and how stunning and how exciting they are. But getting there, yeah, it was we were allowed to big giant bags. And so yeah, you pack up your life and you head there. This was a little bit, you know, cell phone. Everybody having a cell phone was not quite yet a thing. So you know, everybody's kind of still communicating through email. And, you know, Skype was not yet necessarily a thing. So we were kind of communicating once we got there, if we wanted to call home, we had those, you know, phone cards, you bought minutes on stuff like that. And but yeah, once we got there, yeah, the, the Disney parks there and the guests who visit there are incredibly they are incredibly kind, incredibly, um, they are compliant of. And when I say that, what I mean is like if you ask them from stage, if you ask an audience to do something, they're like, Yep, we're doing it.

Rob Lott (00:20:03) - Whereas in the United States, you got, you got to push a little bit more. You got to you got to build a little bit more trust. You have to like, Hey, hey, everybody, what do you think about doing this? And you can't right away say, Hey, everybody, follow me. We're learning this choreography. This is what we're going to do as a crowd. But over there they are in it. They love it there. And they just want to be respectful. Like incredibly. Yeah, yeah. So so yeah, we ended up because it is owned by a it's owned by the Oriental Land Company and they licensed the IP of Disney. This is all public information. Um, so as I was hired as a contractor, as a foreign performer, contractor there and we all actually they built a big giant apartment building for all of us foreign performers who came. So it's about a 300 room apartment building. And we would, you know, it was a village and we would come and go from each village on a regular basis.

Rob Lott (00:20:59) - Every morning we could they would give us a train ticket and we would go to the train station, which was a little bit of you know, it's about a quarter mile walk away from the apartments. We'd hop on the train train would take us to the parks, and we would go in through the employee entrance. But because we were contractors and not necessarily employees of Tokyo Disney, see, we did have to buy purchase annual passes, but that was a really easy decision to do because again, when else are we going to be there? And so we bought annual passes. And so pretty much every day, every night, you know, after work, we would go around the corner. Sorry about that. We would go around the corner and and go into the park and experience the park every night and go to the different restaurants and go and do the different attractions and things. And it's it was fantastic. It was it was a great life for for 13, the 13 months that I was there.

Rob Lott ([00:21:55]) - It was fantastic.

Lou Mongello (00:21:57) - I'm sure there's there's moments that you probably, whether you were performing for guests or acting as a guest, there were pinch me moments like, I cannot believe I'm getting paid to to be here. Yeah. And I get this question all the time and I think we sort of know the answer. But from a a performer perspective, you're obviously singing songs in English, talking. The challenges or the opportunities that the cultural and the language differences present.

Rob Lott ([00:22:29]) - So we were working in an area called the American Waterfront. So Tokyo Disney Sea is about all of the different ports of the different ports all around the world. And so we were working in the American waterfront area. And so our show director, when we got there, our show director goes, Gentlemen, would it be okay if you only spoke English? And we said, Yes, that would be fine. That would be okay. Now, we did have a few songs and we certainly knew some phrases, important key phrases in Japanese, and we did have some songs that we sang in Japanese, but for the most part our show was in English and and it was encouraged and expected that we speak English.

Rob Lott (00:23:12) - And and that was actually as you went around as as foreigners in this country, again, respectful and just very welcoming this it's a very hospitable culture. And so we would sit down at restaurants and it would be a very similar thing of our server would come up and say, Would it be okay if I practiced English with all of you? Yes, that would be just fine. Yes, we we would welcome it. And so it there were certainly some things. Now there's also a, you know, an element of culturally do what is best for everyone. And and also culturally, let's do what we've always done because doing what we've always done has been working. And so we are going to always do the things the way that we've always done them. And there was one day that we decided and again, our director told us, All right, guys, you have the run of the waterfront. You you get to go wherever you want, be wherever you want you, you run this place character wise, story wise, everyone loves you and you have friends in all of the different storefronts.

Rob Lott (00:24:21) - You've got connections everywhere. So wherever you go, whatever you do, you are welcome. And you can go around and do whatever you want, you know, within the within the story of what we're that what we wanted to do was sing together. That was always what we wanted to do. So that was the story. But one day we decided to come out a different door than we had ever come out. And Lou, I tell you, there was no less than three months of meetings to ask us, why did you come out that other door? And we kept saying after about the third meeting where they would come in to our dressing room and they would say, we just need to get to the bottom of this. Why? Why did you go out that other door? And we would say, well, we did it just that one time and we'll never do it again. Okay. Okay. And a week later, they come in. We must know why did you why did you come out that other door? And so there were certain things that we had to remember.

Rob Lott (00:25:12) - Okay, we are visitors here and we need to do things the way that they expect us to do it. I just spent some time out of the country recently and a friend, a friend of ours that was working on the project also. They said, It's not my culture. I don't have to understand it.

Lou Mongello ([00:25:28]) - All right?

Rob Lott (00:25:29) - I just need to comply. I just need to follow along. I just need to do as they tell me to do. And so that, you know, being there is amazing. And like I say, they are incredibly hospitable to people from all around the world visiting. And they know they know that Tokyo is a destination and it's a it's a worldwide destination. And they want to be that and they're welcoming that. And at the same time, there are some things where it's like, well, you're here, please do as we do, as we.

Lou Mongello ([00:25:53]) - Respect has to go both ways. Right. The respect exactly right. That you expect you have to give to to others and the way things are, too.

Lou Mongello (00:25:59) - So yeah, but I mean, in terms of it's also a culture of service. Like I always tell people, if you think that the service at Disney Parks domestically is incredible and the best anywhere, Tokyo, Disneyland and Disney City, they sort of turn it up to 11 and Absolutely 11.5. Right. All right. So the end of your 13 months, what happens and how do you end up back in the States?

Rob Lott (00:26:24) - Yes, I come back to Orlando. And and so the guy who had initially hired me, he and I became friends who hired me back in October of 2000. We became friends. We're hanging out a lot. And he calls me up and he goes, Hey, Rob. So, um, would you be interested? Although you were a puppetry puppeteer with us for almost five years, would you be interested in taking all of that and teaching it to other to new performers? Basically, as I mentioned before, the puppet specialists that would teach us. So would you. We have an opening for somebody to kind of to do that as their main gig.

Rob Lott (00:27:01) - Would you want to do that? And I was like, Oh man, yeah, sure, yeah, that sounds great. So I was then given the opportunity to become a puppet specialist as part of the entertainment show Quality team. So this is something that that your listeners might find interesting, you might find interesting. There's a team at the at the time. We do things a little bit differently now but. At the time. This was 2006, 2007 when I started. There's a team of about 100 people who keep an eye on all of the parades and shows and their job. Our job at the time was to maintain the quality to the expectation of our guests and to the expectation of our creative team. And so we knew. So if you can kind of spot them where if you are watching a parade or especially like, you know, some of the shorter parades at Magic Kingdom, some of the cavalcade and things, you can kind of spot them where they're following along the parade route just just a little bit on the outskirts of where the crowd is.

Rob Lott (00:28:00) - And they have a notebook or they have their phone out and they're following along. And what they're doing is they're going to go back after the parade or after the show and they're going to talk to the cast and they're going to say, hey, just as a reminder, remember, these kicks are 45 degrees, not 50, not 50 degrees and not 90 degrees. So that's that's what these kicks are. And remember that we all step off on on our left foot for this on count seven of this part of the show, you know, and they're keeping an eye on those things to make sure because what happens is shows, shows drift. And especially if you're doing if you're doing the same show day in and day out over and over and over again, it drifts where we find new as performers. We find new and efficient, more efficient ways of doing things. And I've been kind of saying for years, efficiency is not necessarily even though it's part of our our five keys, efficiency is not necessarily a friend to entertainment and show business.

Rob Lott (00:28:58) - We do take the the the the path of most resistance. That's where you get stories. We do take the you know the the route that is more pretty uh.

Lou Mongello (00:29:11) - Which is is the final key. Right. It's the last sort of key in the hierarchy.

Rob Lott (00:29:16) - Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, so along those lines, it is something that we, we're not necessarily but performers though we have a way of going, Oh, it's easier if I do it this way. It's easier if I round the corner this way or. Oh, you know what? This sounds a little if, if I say if I say the line this way, it gets a different response. I'm going to try it that way. Or if I, you know, if I sing it this way, it's going to create a different chord. And so there there are people whose job it is to say, no, no, no, I totally get it. But here's what we're doing. I get that you want to have that variety, I get that.

Rob Lott (00:29:47) - But at the same time, let's come on back and let's do it the way that we that we have written and expected you to do it, because that is what our guests are expecting.

Lou Mongello ([00:29:55]) - Respect for the process. Again, same thing here. 100%. Yeah.

Rob Lott (00:29:58) - Yeah. So I was brought on to be one of those people for the puppetry of Walt Disney World. And I started at a show called Finding Nemo the Musical and was teaching all of the new performers there how to manipulate Marlin and Dory and Nemo and Crush and Squirt and all of those characters, Bruce, that are involved in telling the story of Finding Nemo. They're at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theater in the wild. And so I started doing that, and now I was doing that. And while I was teaching that, I learned I ended up just kind of learning the show as you're prone to do. And so what was fun is that. I would whenever somebody was missing from rehearsal, it was very easy for me to be like, I'll just I'll just stand in their place, say their lines and, you know, sing their lyrics and do their puppetry.

Rob Lott (00:30:53) - And, you know, rehearsal can continue even though we're missing this one individual. And I would kind of jump in for all of those different roles. And after a couple of months of this, the show director pulled me aside and said, Rob, is this something that you want to do? Do you want to be a performer? And I said, Well, I mean, yeah, it's it's in me. Sure, I would love to do that. And so they, they said, Well, why don't you come to some auditions and let's let's see what we can figure out. And so I went to an audition, didn't learn Finding Nemo, but what I Finding Nemo adjacent is a show called Turtle Talk with Crush there at Epcot. And I ended up getting to learn that and be good friends with Crush there at Epcot. And I was doing that. And also during that time I got a callback and was able to my audition, got a callback and was able to learn the hoop to do review as the role of six bit Slocombe.

Rob Lott (00:31:51) - And now but I was what's called an out of unit sub. And so what that means is basically like they have to go through everybody who is a status performer before they call me in because I was I was somebody working in a different job, a different status, different thing altogether. So to just keep the books straight and easy and understandable, they just had to go through and make sure that they called everybody else first before they called me in. So I rarely got to do these shows. But when I did get to do the shows, I just I just bubbled over with excitement and joy and happiness, and I was like, Oh, this, I love this. I love this too. I love the behind the scenes, but I also love this part of getting responses from audiences and hearing that applause and hearing that laughter. And if anybody has ever had the opportunity of standing on a stage and when you say something and the audience laughs, it is immediately and irreversibly addictive. And you'll you will you will continue chasing that laugh, chasing that applause for the rest of your life.

Lou Mongello (00:32:48) - Well, that's what I want to talk to you about, starting off with with Turtle talk with Crush because you went from. You know, you were on stage, but you were off stage. You were hidden as the puppeteer and as the voice. And then you get a taste of that as a performer on stage in Tokyo. Disney see. Now, with Turtle Talk, it's sort of this weird mix up of the two, right? Because you're you're interacting with guests and kids, which is a whole different dynamic. You I'm assuming you have, you know, some scripted lines to go off of. But there's a lot of improvisation that takes place in here. And I also think that you are gifted with the resources and responsibility and opportunity to create memorable and emotional moments for these kids. And I I'm going to cry. I remember going with my son and watching his brains fall out of his head because Crush was talking only to him. You were sort of having this one on one conversation that he remembers.

Lou Mongello ([00:33:58]) - And we remember talking to me a little bit about that dynamic and what sort of goes into that role as a as opposed to the ones that you had before.

Rob Lott (00:34:08) - You're absolutely right. And the my my favorite experience with Turtle Talk, I happened to be around when this show happened and it was that, um, there was a on New Year's Eve, I was working on New Year's Eve and there was a show scheduled for 1150 11 five 0 p.m. on New Year's Eve. And do you think what do you think how many people are clamoring to be over in the land pavilion and sorry, not the land pavilion, the seas, the seas with with with Nemo? How many people are clamoring to be over in that area as opposed to where the main event is about to happen in ten minutes? And I was just like, what? Why? Why is this on the schedule? Why? Why is this happening? And so so again, I just happened to be present and in walks this just one lone family, one family.

Rob Lott (00:35:13) - And they sit on the on the front bench and they're sitting there and I could tell it was like, listen, we tried. We tried to make it to midnight. We're not going to be able to do it. But man, okay, there's one we can do. One more thing before we go. What's that? One more thing. We found a.

Lou Mongello ([00:35:30]) - Bench. We found an exact bench and air conditioning. Yeah.

Rob Lott (00:35:33) - And what was great is. Crush came out. And just you're absolutely right. There's some scripted elements. There's some some stuff that Crush will typically always do. But. Crush came out and just chatted with this family for about ten, 15 minutes, just chatted and ask questions. Tell me about the human world. I'll tell you about the turtle world. Just just let's just have a conversation and strip away all the show elements. And it was exactly that of when you say, you know, your son is mine was blown off. Crush is talking only to me. How great you know I know that it does not.

Rob Lott (00:36:16) - Um, it doesn't check the box of. Well, we need to make sure that enough guests are cycling through this attraction on a regular basis in order to justify it being there, in order to justify the cost of all of that stuff. I know that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to do these one off, um, one family experiences. But man, when it happens, it's my, it's my most favorite thing of just getting to spend that time individually and just. They. I believe that those are the moments. Those are the moments that are that are core. You know, we're laying we're setting the table for core, core memories to be made. And so, yeah, those those are the those are the times that stand out. And I just I remember that night and yeah, it's just getting to talk to that individual family. Or rather I remember being present while Crush was talking to that individual family and, and it was, it was great.

Lou Mongello (00:37:14) - But that's I mean, that's what it's about right? Because that is you can't put sort of reference or the you can't put an ROI on that moment for that family because that is going to be the memory that they have and that they share and that they tell others this is the moment that they become evangelists for this park because of that special time.

Lou Mongello (00:37:40) - It's not about the rides. It's not about what they ate, it's not about the character. It's that moment that they had that they're going to tell their friends, the kids are going to have their kids are going to tell their kids. And you're right, you can't sort of put a price on what that means. My kids have had those moments. They still talk. You know, my daughter's 19, my son's almost 18. They still talk about memories and special moments that they had in the parks with characters when they were six and seven years old. So that's the kind of moment that Crush was able to make for that family. Yeah, and that happens every day, right? It happens every day. Yeah. Sometimes on on smaller scales.

Rob Lott (00:38:17) - Yeah. Well, and you know, we used to have as you, as you may recall, the, the seven service guidelines and, and one of those was to thank each and every guest. Now you know, there's tens of thousands of guests coming through every day.

Rob Lott (00:38:34) - Not every cast member can thank each and every guest. But if each of us is thanking each and every guest that's in front of us. As the day finishes, every guest will have felt welcomed. They will have felt appreciated for their presence there that day and probably multiple times. And I think if all of us, if all cast members are looking for those opportunities, as the majority of us are, if we're looking for those individual opportunities to go, what can I do? I can't do something special for everyone, but I can probably do something special for you. And if everybody is looking for those opportunities, that's that's that's the secret sauce. I believe that that makes everybody walk away going, okay? Yeah, yeah, yeah. The parks were great, parades were great, the rides were great. But let me tell you about this one moment that happened. It was a random Tuesday at at [1:00] in the afternoon. And we had this interaction and we had this interaction with this cast member.

Rob Lott ([00:39:37]) - And I think that is the secret sauce that makes people again, I talk about chasing the laugh, chasing the applause for the rest of my life. I think people come back to the parks because they are chasing that feeling again. Yeah.

Lou Mongello (00:39:48) - And I think I think too, these are our lessons and inspiration that that it's not just at Disney. Like other businesses can take these things and apply it to what they do. I believe that every business is in the relationship business, right? Which is what Disney is in, and the ability to care at scale about every single guest in the way that is most reasonably possible, that these are the kind of things that that happen as a result. So. All right. So you are friends with Crush, but you are also given an opportunity, dare I say, a responsibility because the Hoop dee doo is no joke. The Hoop de do is, you know, if you know and love the Hoop to do you love the Hoop de do. And it is the reason why it is still the longest running stage show in America.

Lou Mongello (00:40:38) - And you pack the house every night. Talk to me about getting the role of six bits, who I think and I'm not just saying it because you're here, but having seen the show multiple times, you know, six bits is a special character because he has to do everything that the other part of the ensemble cast does. But there's something special about his role because of the comedic element that that he brings that I think really helps sort of bind the cast together 100%.

Rob Lott (00:41:10) - So we oh, well. So I'll tell the story of how we got how I got into it. I went to an audition and again, like I said, I got a call back and was and was invited then to learn the show. Um, and again because I have people will, will often say, Rob, how can I do what you do? And I was like, Well, I'll tell you what I did, but it's a very windy path. And so you can follow it as best as possible. But everybody kind of needs to find their own way.

Rob Lott (00:41:37) - And again, because I was able to step into those roles at Finding Nemo in the rehearsal room, the pressure was off and I wasn't nervous. I wasn't trying to have a job or keep a job or get a job. I just I was just standing in for these roles and I wasn't nervous about it. And so I was able to have fun with it and bring that personality. And so they kind of saw that from the other side of the table. The creative team show directors. They saw that from the other side of the table and they said, okay, here's there's something here that might work in other places on property. And so I went to my leadership at the time and I said, Hey, listen, so I'm an emergency sub for the Hoop duty review, but what if we flipped it? What if I was an emergency sub? It's a puppet specialist and I devoted more time to performing and they said, Well, that sounds like a win win. We'll still have access to you when we need you, but you'll be able to follow this dream and do this fun thing that you want to do.

Rob Lott (00:42:26) - And so so that's that's what happened. And I, I went full time into the Hoop to do review in October of 2013. And yeah, so we we did we we always the, the Hoop doo doo review cannot go down as a show you know different shows will go down for different reasons be it weather or technical issues or something like that. But the Hoop did you review just cannot it cannot be canceled. It cannot go down. And so we will always put on a show. We will always do something that is part of the DNA of that venue, the DNA of that cast and that show of just going, we will make something happen. And there was one. There was one day when we did not have a a Flora Long performer. Flora is for anybody who's seen the show. Flora wears the yellow dress. She is partnered with Jim Handy, the host of the show. And so we did not have a floor along. And so it was like, you know what? It's okay.

Rob Lott (00:43:27) - We'll figure it out. We will do, um, we will. We'll still be able to do the show, but we'll just, you know, everybody will kind of assume her role and some of the different ladies will pick up some of those lines. Some of the different men will pick up some of some of those responsibilities and duties that that Flora has. And so we'll be able to get it done and still do it. So we got into it and we started doing the show. And what I realized was Flora Long is the voice of reason at the Hoop Review. She is the one behind the scenes quietly just Jim is the host. Um, Dolly Drew is also a kind of a host. They're, they're, they're similar in their archetypes. But you know, Jim is the singer host and Dolly is the comedic side alongside six bits. And then we have their dancer, couple of Johnny, Ringo and Clair de Lune. And then there's Flora Long that is quietly, like I said, quiet.

Rob Lott (00:44:26) - We didn't realize until she was gone that there was nobody to keep six bits in line and. And so I was just going around doing things and I realized, oh, I need to find my own way to stop myself because typically Flora is the one to go, All right, six bits, come on back, stand here, do as you're told, say your lines, you know. And so, yes, all of that to say we are incredibly reliant on each other as a cast. It is. You know, I have a theory. The show opened in 1974 and there was a very popular television show on at the same time called The Carol Burnett Show. And I believe very much that there was a because of that style of performing ensemble, cast performing. And Carol Burnett is well on record of saying, my job is to make everybody else look great. And yes, it's my name on the show, but I'm going to make sure that everybody else finds their way downstage center. It's going to be funnier if they say this punchline rather than me.

Rob Lott (00:45:26) - Say this punch line. If you know it's it's going to be better if everybody else gets their chance. So I think early on, there was a there was an adoption of that mentality for the Hoop duty review of going, how can we shove everybody? We just continually keep pushing everybody else downstage center to shine. And if if there's that continual ensemble cast relationship of going, no, no, no, this isn't me, this is you and them going, No, no, no, it's not me, it's you, you, you're great in this. Okay, I'm going to take this really fast, but then I'm going to get out of the way and make sure that I'm clear for you to do what you need to do. And the ensemble cast is incredibly reliant on each other. The six of us that are on stage, as well as our two musicians and very much our technicians, we have three technicians on the show, one backstage, one running spotlight and one running audio. And it is a it is a group effort.

Rob Lott (00:46:13) - It is a team effort to make that show run. The appearance of it's right on the edge of falling apart. It is always on the edge of just this show could crumble at any time. And typically that's six bits fault that things are going to fall apart. But yeah, it's we're incredible. And I also say very much so that I get a lot of credit for the, for the, the way that I'm able to make an audience laugh. But man, oh man, does the rest of the cast sure make me laugh backstage. They are so dang funny and and people don't necessarily see that side of them on stage. They look at six bits. They look at Dolly as the the comedy team for the hoop to do review. But what you may not realize is how reliant we are of the rest of the cast knowing comedy, understanding comedy and knowing, okay, my job is to set up six bits. My job is to set up and do it in such a way to get the the the optimal laugh.

Rob Lott (00:47:15) - And so we're just incredibly we're a family. We love each other. We like each other. Um, and it's, it's an amazing, it's an amazing experience stepping on stage and just knowing, um, Amy Poehler had a, had a quote of, of she was Saturday night, Saturday Night Live and Parks and Rec. Amy Poehler and she had a had a she said something of. When you find yourself lost on stage. When you find yourself lost on stage, look into your scene partner's eyes and you'll feel better. And what she was not saying is look into your scene partner's eyes and your scene partner will fix it for you. That's not what she was saying. What she was saying was look into your scene partner's eyes and you'll feel better. And by feeling better, you'll be calm. You'll be able to gather yourself up and go, Okay, where am I? What's happening? What's going on? And all of us, anybody who's been on the stage for any amount of time at the Hoop T2 Review has had that experience of going, okay, I'm lost.

Rob Lott (00:48:20) - I'm just. Where are we? What's happening? I've lost my place in the show, what's happening right now? And you look into your scene partner's eyes and they. Sorry. I love these people so much. You look into your seeing partner's eyes and they look back at you and it is every single time. It is a look of you've got this and we're here.

Lou Mongello (00:48:41) - And I've got you. Right, I've got you. I'm there to. Yeah. And that's you know, that's when I said that, that the show was special. I meant it because, you know, with an ensemble cast, sometimes it's not always like that. There is somebody who wants to sort of be the star of an ensemble cast. But the relationship in that dynamic and what what we as guests I see as the inherent trust that you have with each other, no matter who's playing what role, because you might go one day and see somebody in a role, you might go the next day and it's somebody else, but you still get that sense of love and relationship and dynamic between each of you.

Lou Mongello (00:49:20) - And I think, you know, for this show, too, I've seen it multiple times over over multiple years and me to barring slight change, because I have to imagine, again, it's the same thing. You have a script, I'm using air quotes, but you also have some freedom and flexibility to to adlib and improvise. But one of the things I've always noticed is that you, for the most part, do the same show multiple times per night every single day of the year. But it always seems and feels like it's the first time you're doing it and it's the most important performance you've ever given. How do you sustain that level of enthusiasm and energy for something that, again, you know, is we understand it, it's not rote, but it's the same thing. So how do you sort of keep that enthusiasm level authentic? Because you know that the audience can feel it.

Rob Lott (00:50:21) - There's two things for me. So the yeah, you're absolutely right. The show, it's a scripted show. And and we have we have benchmarks of time because we do three shows a night.

Rob Lott (00:50:31) - So we there needs to be time to get this audience out and get the next audience in. And so we have to be mindful of those things. And so it is it's scripted, it's timed, it's planned. But at the same time, you are right. There are there are times there are places I always say, yes, you can lead the you can leave the roadmap as long as you know your way back. And so along those lines, I had the opportunity to be with the show, be on stage for the 40th anniversary performance. And there were a couple of things that were amazing about that. But one of the great things was they brought back the original cast, they brought back the original cast, seated them right in the middle of the house. And we got to in the middle of the show during what is typically the birthdays and anniversaries. We got to go around and introduce the originators of these roles. And I remember. When it got time for. This is a little bit of a sidebar, but when it came time I was going to introduce Brad, who originated the role of six bits.

Rob Lott (00:51:36) - And I. All I said was, let me talk for just a little bit about Brad. And there was a roar of applause from the audience. And the reason I'm getting emotional about this is because he was he didn't know it, but he was creating an opportunity for decades and for performers to he was laying the groundwork to create this character that people love so very, very much. And that original cast, we were chatting with them afterwards and we were saying, you know, how does it feel to have a show running? This is this is important. And this is what stuck with me. We asked him, how does it feel to be the opening cast of a show that has run for 40 years? And they said, oh, well, we were never thinking about 40 years. We were thinking about this show and this audience. And if you are thinking about this show and this audience, it makes it really easy to keep it fresh. And for me. You know, we we bust through those back doors.

Rob Lott (00:52:43) - We run up on stage and we start in on that opening number. And just about every single show, I can look out into the house and I can see somebody with the look on their face of going, okay, hold on, wait a second. This is real. There are actually people singing and dancing in front of me, live on stage. I've never actually experienced this. I've seen it on TV. I've seen it in movies. I've never actually experienced it. Been in the room. When a live show is happening ten feet away from me, I've never experienced that. And you see their eyes are just big taking it all in. Sometimes their jaw is dropped going, Well, I don't I don't know how to process all that is happening right now. So immediately. Well, of course now the show becomes for them, for me of going, okay, I'm just going to keep checking in with them of going. We you've heard about how amazing, how amazing live entertainment is. You've heard about how amazing live entertainment is at Walt Disney World is.

Rob Lott (00:53:41) - I don't want to let you down. All of those people who told you how great this is, I don't want to make liars out of them. I want I want you to have the experience that you were hoping to have even if you didn't know what you were hoping for. I want to give you that experience. And we always say about the Hoop Review, it's not the best show at Walt Disney World. It's the most fun you ever had. And that is that's an amazing mission statement. It's a great way for us to for us to be able to just go, hey, hey, listen, we're not trying to be the best show. We're trying to give this audience the best time they ever had so we can let things fall apart a little bit. We can let things go off the rails and bring them along with us for the ride, but. And in so doing, we'll be able to give them the most fun that they ever had. The second thing doesn't take as long to explain, but the second thing is a lot of young performers will spend a lot of time trying to be interesting on stage, and that is a recipe for burnout.

Rob Lott (00:54:38) - It's a recipe for because you get stronger and you stop sweating as much and you stop. You stop being as nervous. And so all of a sudden you're going, wait a second, I'm I need to work. I'm not sweating as much as I used to. I'm not as sore the next day as I used to be. Well, I must not be working hard enough. I have to do more. I have to do more. I have to do more. And what that does it. They're trying to be interesting on stage and put on a show for the audience. That is interesting. I had a mentor years ago say to me, Rob, you're very interesting on stage. Why don't you try being interested? Huh? And as soon as I flipped that switch, as soon as I changed that mentality of every time I step on stage, my job is not to be interesting. There's enough interesting going on all around us. We've got buckets of chicken being thrown all around the dining area.

Rob Lott (00:55:30) - We've got a banjo player who. What other show has a live banjo player? We've got a banjo player. We got a piano player, world class ragtime, piano players sitting there. We've got, you know, all this singing and dancing and costumes and comedy and crazy props and all this stuff. All of that is interesting in and of itself. My responsibility is to be interested in it and to point the audience in the direction of paying attention to the things that are most interesting. Thus. As long as you're interested. As long as you stay in that space of going. I am interested in what my fellow performers are doing. I'm interested in what the audience is giving us as far as their energy goes. I'm interested in all those things. Then it makes it really easy to keep the show fresh. So those are the two things.

Lou Mongello (00:56:14) - Well, I think there's something else that Hoop dee doo has that that. For the most part. I don't think maybe any other show has in in Walt Disney World, which is a sense of legacy, right? The when you meet the performers that help sort of lay the foundation for these roles and you have to carry that responsibility on not just for the performers and the people that you're working around, but for every single guest that is watching you for the first time or the 50th time, because you know, you have repeat offenders, repeat repeat guests who loved to come in because the show is so special to them.

Lou Mongello ([00:56:51]) - To them, because I think they do they sort of form a relationship with you. Right. The same way I think you form a relationship with the audience every single night.

Rob Lott (00:56:59) - 100%. I mean, you know, I get people on a regular basis, I'll be walking through the parks or I'll be just somewhere out and about in Orlando and somebody will come up to us and say, Hey, we're fans of Hoop. We're we're fans of Hoop. Do you do. And you know, and they know that I don't necessarily know them, but they stared at me for an hour and a half, one night and, you know, they know you. So. Yeah. And so they got to know me. They got well, they got to know six bits which. Which honestly is a little bit of an extension of me. Um, but yeah they, they do that the what you're talking about legacy and I think. I'm going quickly through my Rolodex of live stage shows at Walt Disney World, and I believe Hoopee Do is the only one that is truly a live.

Rob Lott (00:57:47) - And when I say live, it is we're in charge of the timing of everything else has kind of a prerecorded track, if not a prerecorded underscore that is keeping everything moving at a certain time at a certain pace. And it's going to when when you press play on the show, it is going to finish, you know, 22 minutes later, 25 minutes later, 18 minutes later. But who you.

Lou Mongello (00:58:10) - Do has you're sort of calling your own show.

Rob Lott (00:58:13) - Exactly. We are doing it. We're building an ebb and flow with the audience and going, oh, you like this kind of joke? Okay, we're going to everything. That's not that. We're going to skip over, fly through really fast, everything that is that we're going to spend some time on that and we're going to let the audience and again, it's doing this show for this audience. Um, the only other and I would bring this up, there's, there's two shows that I would point to at Walt Disney World that also have a legacy.

Rob Lott (00:58:37) - And their atmosphere shows though, and it's the voices of liberty and it's the Dapper Dan's. And I think very similarly because they are absolutely live and they get to choose how they're going to do their show. Um, you know, Dapper Dan's, they walk out and, you know, there's. There's a structure to the show. I also sing with the Dapper Dan's. I sing lead with them. And there's a structure to the show. There's an expectation of how the show is going to go. And at the same time, when you see the Dapper Dan's, the jokes are going to be different. The song order is going to be different, the song selection is going to be different. The interaction with the audience is going to be different. Same with Voices of Liberty. They get to choose. You know, they've got about 80 songs in their repertoire and you're going to hear 4 or 5 of those in the next 12 to 15 minutes waiting for the American adventure to begin. And so I think people go back to those again and again because they get to know the individuals that are in those shows.

Rob Lott (00:59:36) - They also there is a legacy of going, it's up to us to make this show great. It's up to us. The cast members that are in the show, it's up to us to make it great and make it consistently great every time. Because if we're if we don't, we can't point to, well, you know, the track was weird. We can't point to, well, this automation didn't happen. No, it's us. And so there is a responsibility with those types of shows that are truly live that I think audiences latch on to and they go, Oh my goodness, let's go to Hoop to do again, because you never know what's going to go, what's going to go wrong. You never know what's going to be different every show. Let's go, Oh, let's stop for the Dapper Dan's. Let's stop for a song or two. Let's, let's, let's get there early for the American adventure and see voices of liberty. Listen to voices of Liberty, because we're going to hear something we've never heard before, but it is maintained and built and honored by the cast that's in place.

Rob Lott (01:00:30) - Can you tell I'm a little bit passionate about this show and I.

Lou Mongello (01:00:32) - Love it, man. And I love and I can see it. And I and I know who who's listening can hear it in your voice, too. And I agree. But again, there's something you know, Hoopi, do you have to you have to work to get to. Right. You have to pay for a ticket. You got to take this bus. It is work, right? You have to work to get there. Like you got to really want to see the Hoopi do. And look, I've I've been, you know, so many times because I am drawn to the fried chicken. No, I am drawn to the fact that I know what the show is going to be, but I know it's going to be different. And one of the things that amazes me every time and it's a testament to you and the other performers and the crew that puts it all together. Is this on the spot creation of content creation? Like when you're sitting there and you're sort of just randomly going through the audience, The people who are in that audience are not planned.

Lou Mongello (01:01:25) - You don't know if the guy is going to be like, I'm from Saskatoon. You're like, Oh, I got to figure out a rhyme to Saskatoon and do it like, right here. Um, it's fascinating to watch, you know, the wheel spinning so quickly and the brilliance and the humor that comes out of of these performers that clearly love the the people who are in the audience and they love what they're doing.

Rob Lott (01:01:50) - I Yeah, it's you're you're correct. 100%. We love we love when the audience is an active participant with us. You know, that that makes to a degree, that makes the job fun and easy and different for us, you know? And so as soon as the audience no listeners, you don't need to take that necessarily as marching orders that every time that you go to the hoop to do review, you need to be shouting things at the at the stage throughout the entirety of the show. But at the same time, when something happens and we all were witness to it, you know, a, an interesting story of of an engagement, you know, when we're doing birthdays and anniversaries and we'll say, oh, these two just got engaged, Let's hear the story.

Rob Lott (01:02:33) - And there's, you know, a fun detail about about that couple. And we're able to then reference that later on in the show and bring that back and just remind the audience of going, Hey, this is live theater. And also we're doing it just for you. And we were all there. We were all witness to this fun, funny thing that happened about 20 minutes ago. And here we are bringing it back up again. And it's only going to work in this show.

Lou Mongello (01:02:56) - So you have performed in all of these different roles. And I want to talk about some of the things you do outside of Disney, too, but anything else? So currently you're you're still friends with some of these same performers, like.

Rob Lott (01:03:12) - My my main guy. Yeah. So, as you know, my wife and I were just in New Orleans and we had been in New Orleans pre-pandemic, and we went back and visited again and we noticed we're like, oh, my goodness. You know, it would appear they are rebuilding their musician community.

Rob Lott (01:03:29) - They are rebuilding their musician community and rebuilding these venues and places for people to go and hear live music again. They're in New Orleans and we love New Orleans for for all of that. But it was a reminder of going at Walt Disney World. We are rebuilding and we are rebuilding the the the number of performers we are rebuilding the stages that that they perform at. And so along those lines, there's also I know that the company has been actively looking to as best as possible, bring back as many performers as they can as quickly as they can. And I think that they're actively still doing that and looking for ways of bringing things back from that were pre-pandemic and the before times bringing those things back in some way, shape or form, but certainly bringing those performers back. And so everything that I used to do. So I was in, yeah, a turtle talk with Crush and Finding Nemo, the musical and Royal Majesty Makers and Dapper Dance and the Hoop Revue. Those were kind of my my rotation of shows in the Before Times.

Rob Lott (01:04:38) - And now that I'm back, I came back with the Hoop Revue, got brushed up at Dapper Dance. But truly my my hope, my I don't necessarily want to get back up right away with all of those other shows because I want my friends to come back to work. And so there's there's a lot of performers, a lot of my friends that are kind of, you know, piecemeal and subbing here and there for different things all around central Florida. And I want them to be able to come back and have a regular place. And so anyway, so yeah, so my mainstays right now are the Hoop Revue and Dapper Dance as well. And so yeah, back doing those things.

Lou Mongello (01:05:16) - So when, when the pandemic hits and the world shuts down and live theater shuts down, you know, again, it takes a very long time for that to to start ramping up. I remember when Humpty Do opened up again and what a beautiful and special and very emotional time it was. But I do feel and I think you do did as well, that sometimes through adversity there's opportunity.

Lou Mongello ([01:05:41]) - And during Covid you took what you learned, your experience and your expertise and everything that you have led and created and performed and built something out of it in that effort to help other people as well. Talk to me a little bit about what blue trumpet Creative is.

Rob Lott (01:06:05) - Thank you so much for asking. Yeah. So like so many people, you know, there's this there's this thing with flu like symptoms that was going around and and so I thought, you know, I was sent home from work one day and I thought that I had, you know, the next two weeks off. And so I kind of put out there into the world because it was just this weird in-between time of like, are we going to work? Are we not going to work? Schools were still in session, but also maybe not in the same way. And so I put a call out because everybody was doing, um, a lot of my, my friends who were, you know, high school theater teachers and college theater professors, and they were needing to kind of take all of their lesson plans, turn them sideways, because now we are now we're needing to do all of this virtually online.

Rob Lott (01:07:00) - And so I asked the ask the question, um, just basically putting it out there into the world on the socials. I said, Hey, I have some extra time if you to my teacher friends, if you need somebody to kind of come in and help kind of do some teaching and some some master classes or some just some Q&A of the of show business and what it's like to to make it in this world as a performer, then happy to do that. And so I had some people come along and they said, actually, we have a budget for this so we can pay you for it, which I was very appreciative and thankful for. And slowly over time, the idea of, Hey, what are you working on? How can I how can I help? What are you working on? How can I help? And I just kept because I was bored, you know, I was just sitting at home doing my own thing and I was bored. And so I was looking for things to do, looking for projects.

Rob Lott (01:07:48) - And people started saying, Oh, here's what I'm working on and here's how you can help. And so I realized I need to be fiduciary, responsible. Um, for, for some of those opportunities. And so in October of 2020, I started the company Blue Trumpet, creative and Blue trumpet Creative exists. It is coaching, consulting and creative development. And the coaching part is helping anybody who is stepping on any kind of stage to remove the anxiety, remove the nervousness and replace it with excitement and joy and knowing that it is stepping on stage as an opportunity. It can be a joy, It can be a fun thing. And blue trumpet creative can help you. Um, can coach you, whether it's an audition, a presentation that you're giving at work or you're pitching a new idea, or you're just going, Hey, I want to do a toast at my at my daughter's wedding, we can help to remove that anxiety and get you to a place of preparedness that makes it instead of being nervous.

Rob Lott (01:08:52) - Now I'm excited. So that's the coaching part. The consulting part is working with teams. I'm a big fan. Knowing what I've learned from the Walt Disney Company and other great companies that I've worked with, but also I'm just a huge fan of. The health, emotional health, the team health, the inner workings, the good health of companies, of what is going on behind the scenes and making sure that they have everything that they need for them to work well together behind the scenes so that what they are giving to their customers, what they're giving to their audience, what they are giving on their platform, is the best that it can be because what's going on behind the scenes is healthy and good and strong. And so I love working with teams And what the way I kind of talk about it is, you know, helping them find the leadership to to lead their creative, but also find them finding the creativity to be able to lead their leadership and make their leadership happen as a team. And so that's what the consulting piece is, is working with teams to make sure that they are operating at their optimal best.

Rob Lott (01:09:58) - And then creative development is just whatever I want to do. Um, it's just whatever is left. I got a call a couple of summers ago last summer to a friend was saying, Hey, there's this girl I've been dating and I really like her. She's very talented and I am not necessarily talented the way that she's talented. But I want to ask her this question and I want to make sure that it meets the standard of who she is. And will you help me create a proposal that that is fitting to who she is? And I said, oh, my God, absolutely. And so we created a a it was a little bit of a kind of a flash mob where they happened upon some street performers that were playing their favorite songs. So, of course, as they're playing their favorite song, well, of course we're going to stop and listen to it. It was a guitar and a harmonica player, and they're playing this song. It was Moon River. And what they didn't realize while they were listening is that all of our friends from the Voices of Liberty were gathering behind them.

Rob Lott ([01:11:01]) - And and so when the musicians stopped playing now, there was about 40 singers behind them that picked up and gave the lyrics to in their eight part harmony to Moon River, at which point then once that was done, the guitar picked back up and it was just the two of them. The couple then and the guy got to just lean over and have just a conversation between the two of them. And he got down on one knee and asked the question and she cried and said yes. And he stood up and she and he said she said yes, which was their cue to kick back into the key change of Moon River, at which point when that was done, streamers shot off and, you know, and all their friends and family came running in from around the corners. And and it was just a great, great time. Anyway, that kind of stuff is what I really enjoyed doing with Blue Trumpet Creative.

Lou Mongello (01:12:01) - Well, on behalf of anybody who's ever thought about getting engaged, I want to thank you for ruining it for everybody else.

Lou Mongello (01:12:07) - Like the one knee thing isn't going to cut it anymore for anybody who's listening because now you I'll send you a little.

Rob Lott (01:12:14) - I will send you a link to. We had a video crew there also hidden in the bushes. Yeah. And so they were hidden in the bushes. Not to be seen. We had a video crew and it's. I'll send you a link to the to the YouTube clip and you can. Yeah, I'll share it with everybody.

Lou Mongello (01:12:28) - Yeah. But what I dig about what and part of the reason why I wanted to mention blue trumpet is because I think, you know, I talked about sort of we're all being in the relationship business and I think to a certain degree, everything that we do right is sort of an audition for something or somebody. So having that sense of performative, being performative in the things that we do is really important. I'm sure there's a way people can apply it to what they do, and clearly you must never like to sleep, which is part of the reason why I dig you, because you also do one of those things called a podcast as well.

Rob Lott ([01:13:02]) - I do, yes. Yeah, I have I have a couple of podcasts.

Lou Mongello ([01:13:06]) - I looked at just like you have like 17 podcasts, I think going at once.

Rob Lott (01:13:10) - Ish. Ish, Yeah. So the main podcast that I'm, that I'm working on now, I do a podcast with my sister called Let's Talk Soon. And on that, our structure again, my sister being and being an author and a published writer, she, she and I, but also then having the history and relationship that brothers and sisters have. She's a writer. I'm an actor and director. And so we talk about the things that we are reading about, writing about thinking about and speaking up about. And then there's a podcast that I do called the Leading Creative Podcast, and it's all of the the lessons that I have learned. It's kind of a solo podcast. Sometimes I'll do interviews with other leaders of creative, but it's all the things that I have learned about the principles of leading creative and leading creatives and that intersection of leadership and creativity.

Rob Lott (01:14:01) - You can have all of the great ideas in the world, but if you don't have the ability to execute on those ideas and lead others in making those ideas happen, then what? Good is that creativity. Meanwhile, you can have bend all the leadership conferences, read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, have all these leadership principles in your head. But if you don't have anything new to say, anything new to add to the conversation, anything new to bring to the world, then what good is that leadership? So it's that intersection of leadership and creativity that the leading creative podcast is all about.

Lou Mongello (01:14:32) - Awesome. I will I will obviously link to your 312 different ventures and sites and socials that you have for all that you do, because in addition to the titles that I introduce you with, I think Juggler is also one of them too, because you are you're wonderfully juggling a lot. And I think more importantly, Rob, you are, um, you are sharing your gift of your talent and your expertise and with so many people in a way.

Lou Mongello (01:15:02) - And it's part of the reason why I wanted to have you on. You you just put positive stuff out there in the world, man. You make people happy. You make people laugh. You give people memories that will last them a lifetime, you know? And when I say and I don't you know, when I say I think you are the type of performer and cast member that Walt would be proud of, Right? Because that's what he wanted the cast to be. I mean that sincerely.

Rob Lott ([01:15:28]) - Thank you. Thank you so much.

Lou Mongello (01:15:30) - So Rob Lotz, thank you once again for coming on. All right. One last question, because I would be remiss if I didn't ask it for you from you, if somebody was like, mom, dad, I want to be him. I want to do what he does. I want to be the puppet guy, the performer guy. I want to go work at Disney. I know every role and every person is different, but if you had to give somebody one bit of advice, whether it is a little kid or the person that's been stuck in that career like, I want to get out of this, I want to do something else.

Lou Mongello (01:16:02) - What's the bit of advice you'd give to them?

Rob Lott (01:16:05) - Say yes to every opportunity that that comes your way. Say yes and pursue every opportunity. I was told when I first started at Walt Disney World, somebody said, Rob, I can tell you are ambitious. You want to do more things, bigger and better things. And so make sure that you set yourself a limit of working at Walt Disney World because you want to do other things outside of here. And so I set myself a limit of five years of working at Walt Disney World. And but it had a little caveat. It said five years, as long as I'm doing. But if I'm doing something new and interesting, then that five year thing starts all over again. And so along those lines, what I was told was say yes to everything for the first five years, and after that you'll be able to pick and choose. And so for anybody who's wanting to get into this industry, get into the and Walt Disney World or any of the other parks or anywhere, there's so many opportunities all around the country to perform its best to be in proximity to those locations.

Rob Lott (01:17:04) - It's but at the same time, the world is getting smaller and smaller. And and so a lot of a lot of performing can happen. Stages are all over the place everywhere. And so you can find a place to perform but say yes to every opportunity that you possibly can get, all the experience that you possibly can be kind. And the longevity in this industry is based on your kindness. It's you can be the most talented person in the world. You're not going to work very long if you are not kind. And so be yes, be talented, be in the right place at the right time with the right talent. But once you get there and once you get the once you get the job, be kind and and just say yes to every opportunity to get get as much experience as you can.

Lou Mongello (01:17:44) - I love that man. It is beautiful and it's perfect. And, you know, while we were talking, I'm like, you know what? I think we need to do this again. I think we did a night at the hoop to do before, one of the night before one of our group cruises.

Lou Mongello ([01:17:59]) - I think we need to do it again. Forget about just the cruise, just sort of get a bunch of people together on the floor of Hoop to do and come out and see you and the rest of the cast and the crew. Rob Lutz, thank you so much, man. I really, really appreciate you and and your time today.

Rob Lott (01:18:15) - Thank you. It's been a blast. Thank you.