Louie Gravance learned at an age earlier than most the necessary building blocks to create a successful career in one of the most challenging industries: entertainment. At only twelve years old, he began working in California as a stage, film and television actor and would go on to appear in over thirty-five national television commercials. In 1987, Gravance was offered a summer job with one of the entertainment industry’s most successful conglomerates, The Walt Disney Company, beginning as a comic at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and soon thereafter embarking on a twelve-year adventure at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

During these twelve years Gravance immersed himself in the Disney culture, developing a...

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Speech Topics

*What You Learn in a Magic Kingdom

When a service employee asks the question, "What's in it for me," the honest and correct response is EVERYTHING."
Your team members need to know and understand that an investment OF themselves is an investment IN themselves.
This is not always an easy message to convey and convince your staff that "great service serves the server first."
Let me do it for you.
Just as I convinced and inspired thousands of cast members at Walt Disney World on their first day; lets illustrate to your employees how looking for opportunities to create magic for a customer can transcend their own careers and lives.

Creating magical service moments is not something only read in books or theory, it's actionable. But, as Walt Disney said, “It takes people,” to make it happen.
During this session I utilize my twenty-five years experience with service brands to prove we can isolate, identify, define and execute service excellence as leaders.
Onstage and offstage must work in tandem to maintain a culture of service-excellence, explored heavily in this presentation.


When a WOW moment in customer service takes place, it doesn't happen only for the customer, it occurs for both, simultaneously. Inspiring your team to make that connection is the single, greatest tool for maintaining a culture of service excellence.
Becoming a member of the Service Jedi requires discipline but offers many rewards. Master the ten major skills including:

Serve with Purpose
Serve with Showmanship
Serve by Listening

(This talk is also offered as a half-day workshop)


ALL organizations are constantly engaging their internal and external customers in a NARRATIVE of sorts. Regardless of what anyone is selling or providing, a story is conveyed through every single transaction, involving every single sense we possess. This narrative drives everything from customer expectations to employee satisfaction and even your very BRAND ESSENCE.
• What do we look like?
• What do we sound like?
• What do we smell like?
• What do we feel like?
Since all your team members are telling a story with every transaction, shouldn't it be the story you want to convey to your customers? Every day? Every transaction?
For over 40 years I’ve appeared on radio, network television, film, stage, in theme parks, as well as worked with corporate trainers in medicine, retail, foods, manufacturing, auto makers, insurance companies to name just a few. They are all, at their core, show business.


Think you need a theme park to engage customers/clients/patients? Magical moments in the customer experience are taking place in hospitals, banks, stores, funeral parlors and, yes, even online. Not only have I seen these moments in industries outside of entertainment, I’ve helped steer and facilitate them.

“Returning to purpose” is a major theme in this presentation aimed at service professionals who have been overwhelmed by TASK.


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  • Mad Cow Announces The Cast & Creatives For BUYER AND CELLAR
    Mad Cow Announces The Cast & Creatives For BUYER AND CELLAR
    Aug 06, 2018
    Louie Gravance...
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    Mad Cow Announces The Cast & Creatives For BUYER AND CELLAR
    Aug 06, 2018

    Mad Cow Theatre is delighted to announce the cast and creative team of Jonathan Tolins' Buyer & Cellar, an uproarious evening with a friend who has a story to tell, which will take the Zehngebot-Stonerock stage Aug. 10, 2018, as the final production of Mad Cow Theatre's Season 21. Mad Cow is elated to bring this irresistible one-man comedy to Orlando.

    A struggling Los Angeles actor takes a job working in the basement of a beloved megastar - and then one day Barbra Streisand herself ventures downstairs. Buyer & Cellar is an elegant, intimate, and delicious experience between actor and audience, which allows both to ponder the loneliness of celebrity and the love-hate relationship between gay men and the divas they adore.

    "Buyer & Cellar is an inventive, witty and laugh-out-loud comedy," says Mitzi Maxwell, Mad Cow's executive director. "You will fall in love with this play. It's a great way to spend a summer evening."

    Winner of the 2013 Drama Desk Award and the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding solo show, Buyer & Cellar premiered at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre off-Broadway in 2013 and soon transferred to the larger Barrow Street Theatre, where it had a 13-month run.

    The New York Times described Buyer & Cellar as "a seriously funny and remarkably sustained slice of absurdist whimsy on which both Barbra lovers and haters will be sold." The New Yorker called it "a fantasy so delightful you wish it were true."

    Louie Gravance plays Alex More, the solo character in this show. Mad Cow welcomes Louie to his first Mad Cow production. He spent many years as a Citizen of Hollywood at Walt Disney World and is a veteran of many stage productions. Philip Nolen, a veteran actor at Mad Cow (The History Boys, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Private Lives), takes on the role of Buyer & Cellar's director and is joined by set designer Cliff Price (Bad Jews), lighting designer Amy Hadley (Silent Sky, Bad Jews) and costume designer Alison Reid (The Little Foxes). Sound designer Ellie Petro is new to Mad Cow.

  • What Happened to Backstage?
    What Happened to Backstage?
    Mar 16, 2018
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    What Happened to Backstage?
    Mar 16, 2018

    “If a guest can see or hear you, we consider that ‘onstage’. If they cannot you are ‘offstage’,” I would illustrate to literally thousands of new Walt Disney World cast members during their first-day orientation. This same, simple, concept has been a cornerstone of my post-Disney consulting and keynotes.  But the partition separating on and offstage has become fuzzy.  More accurately, it has become almost completely transparent.  

    Perhaps this trend can be traced back to the 90s when restaurants opened-up their kitchens, office doors gave way to low-walled cubicles and we were suddenly told that all our service calls, “may be recorded for training purposes.”  The proscenium around the stage has been dissolving for some time.  In fact, does your business even have a “backstage” anymore?

    Take the current stab at disruptive business models that is Moviepass as an example.  For just under ten dollars a month the service allows one to see any single movie a day at most local theaters and mini-plexes.  A membership card is acquired and connects to a (still somewhat clumsy) phone app.  Moviepass has taken the step of dispensing with any service moment whatsoever occurring “off the grid.”  Everything is done onstage.  Everything.

    During months of trying to obtain and activate my own membership card I was to learn that Moviepass is impossible to reach by phone.  Speaking to a live person (by phone) is not an option, period.  Go ahead and try, they practically dare you.  Getting an answer to an email was equally elusive.  However, going to their Facebook page and posting, “This service is a mess and completely unreliable,” got my problem solved in under ten minutes—right there in front of a global audience.

    I question this tactic as an absolute in delivering service-excellence as it is tantamount to inviting potential customers to come watch how you make sausage before market.  Ever seen a picture of Jell-O being made?  No, and you won’t for a reason.  Yet, fully transparent, full-view service recovery for a global audience may be the new frontier in the customer experience.  An art to be mastered.

    Do we have a choice?  Since every customer (in one way or another) is now a content provider, perhaps we should perform as if every point of the customer experience is being broadcast on a twenty-four hour channel for YELP.  “Use or be used,” would be my counsel.

    Just as “show kitchens” forever altered the behavior (and trust me, they did) of kitchen and service staff behind the scenes at American restaurants, there is a good chance that social media will forever change the delivery of customer service.  Our new cultural need to be looked at all of the time means we’re all being, um, well, looked at all of the time.  Nothing is offstage, nothing.

    Finally, in light of what we’re learning about the conduct of powerful employers over decades and the #metoo movement, perhaps conducting ourselves as if our customers, clients, patients and guests are always observing is not such a bad idea.  They deserve it and the great brands we serve now require it.

    The title of my most popular talk has never been more true: “There’s No Business BUT Show Business.”

  • Science of Story: Use Your Hands!
    Science of Story: Use Your Hands!
    Nov 28, 2017
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    Science of Story: Use Your Hands!
    Nov 28, 2017

    “Ladies and gentlemen, the next hour will be PowerPoint free.”  Most of my presentations lasting an hour or less have begun that way for over a decade.  I do this to set clear expectations and create context.  It never occurred to me that, one day, this would become an applause line.  But it has.

    A great keynote is not just a speech, it’s a piece of theatre.  Most of the truly sensational, no wait, make that all the truly sensational speakers I know are talented storytellers.  Amazing storytellers.  Even the colleagues I refer to as “the great explainers” handle specific, statistical content through anecdotal methods as well as a well-placed graph or diagram.   As one of my own keynotes is titled, “There’s No Business BUT Show Business,” and public speaking certainly exemplifies this.

    Among the first things one learns in first-year theatre training is that a director should avoid “split-focus” when bringing a scene to life.  Yet, this is exactly what many are doing when entering a competition with PowerPoint for attention and focus. 

    The addiction and overuse of slides to guide a speaker’s presentation in our field is not only dumbing down the performance of the average speaker, it’s also dumbing down our audiences.  The moment a typical slide presentation is incorporated it sends a subliminal message to participants that says, “Relax, you don’t have to completely engage because my PowerPoint is going to do half the work for both of us.  I don’t need to really work so hard and you don’t need to listen so hard.”

    What great storyteller would implore listeners to stare at the scenery when attempting to create a collective-consciousness?  Singers are aware that a bare stage and a pin-spot are magnificent tools to bring an audience in and force it to listen closer, so why don’t speakers?  Practically all of us have a mother or uncle that can mesmerize a room at family gatherings using only their voice and gesticulation.  And they’re not paid thousands of dollars to do it, nor do they belong to speaking associations.  And when you think of it, isn’t grabbing attention at a community gathering to entertain or inform all any of us are really doing as professional speakers?

    Let’s be clear; I know that it’s long been trendy to bag on PowerPoint (especially by folks like myself who find themselves clumsy using it in the first place) and, to be fair, there are certainly instances when slides are a necessity rather than an enhancement.   Presenting graphs, statistics or specific brand-messaging require visual back-up that just couldn’t be conveyed as well with interpretive dance.  Well…in most cases anyway.

    When developing content for other organizations or helping someone prepare for an important talk, presentation or “show”, I have a strict “Ten-Slide-Rule”.  I ask, “Do you really need more than ten slides?”  My professional opinion is that if more than ten separate slides must be utilized it means your message may have morphed into nothing more than an information dump.  Pull back.

    I realize that, for some, the idea of appearing onstage sans a slide show will feel naked.  Also, as someone who made a living for years by making silly voices and sound effects with my mouth, this may come easier to me than most.  To that I say; if all else fails while telling a story you can always USE YOUR HANDS!  Trust me, it works.


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