Now that our show is set, and we are well into our regular performance schedule, the cast and crew have most of our days free before the show at night. We generally have a lot of freedom to explore our current city and fill our days however we choose. The exceptions being company travel time to a new city, press obligations, and understudy rehearsals.
Monday is our ‘travel day’ where we either fly or drive (depending on distance) to our next performance location. The company manager organizes and pays for these travel arrangements. There is an option, that applies to company housing arrangements as well, to take a ‘Buyout’ and make your own travel plans. If you choose to do this, the company reimburses your for the cost of the group travel and you can use that toward getting to the next city by your preferred method. People do this if they want to leave earlier or later than the group to go home, visit family/ friends in a nearby city, or just have a day to themselves. If your costs exceed the company's, you must pay the difference.
Another daytime obligation can be participating in press activities to advertise the show in a current or upcoming city. These include interviews for local TV news or radio stations, phone interviews for newspapers or blogs, appearances at local businesses, talkbacks, outreach, or masterclasses. We are paid a lump sum for these appearances as part of our contract. Here are some examples of press events I’ve participated in:
Lastly, the stage management team conducts weekly, or biweekly understudy rehearsal. This is an opportunity for the understudies to practice the roles they don’t perform every night to keep their performances ready to go at a moment’s notice. They do a barebones run through of the show without costumes or set, but go straight through as if it were a performance. For this show, there are two ‘teams’ of understudies because one person may cover multiple roles- so one week an understudy will do the run through playing one of their roles all the way through, and the next week they’ll flip and do the other. If you are not an understudy, you do not participate in these rehearsals, so there are gaps in the cast and the dance captain or swings usually end up running around, filling in and playing multiple roles. It’s a pretty fun/ funny way to practice the show. Understudies are paid extra, usually via contract 'riders' for their additional rehearsal time and responsibilities.
Apart from those obligations, we have a lot of free time, which can be both good and bad! I am the type of person who thrives on routine and schedule, so the touring lifestyle can be challenging, but because we are always in a new place, it’s easy to find new things to see and do to fill the time in a productive way! One of my favorite things about touring is exploring and learning about each new city we visit! With at least a week in each city, you have the opportunity to briefly immerse yourself in the culture and get a feel for what each place is about. It is such a unique opportunity to get to visit so many places I’ve never been, and perhaps wouldn’t have a reason to visit otherwise! I love educating myself about the history of the region, and noticing the differences in architecture, city planning, culture, the demeanor of local people, and what they seem to value and enjoy. It is also very interesting to note how audiences react differently to the show in each place we visit. That helps keep us on our toes every night! Even though we are performing the same show 8 times a week, it never feels the same because the feedback from the local audience is never exactly the same from city to city!
In addition to exploring on my time off, I try to find local dance classes to take or teach, practice voice, exercise, work on the blog, stay in touch with family and friends via computer, phone, and snail mail (my favorite), grocery shop, do laundry, and get massages. When our hotel/ housing is more than a half of a mile from the theater, the company provides us with rental cars which gives us more options for activity during the day.
I am currently with the cast on a flight headed to Knoxville, TN after a great week in Baltimore, MD. We performed at the Hippodrome Theatre which was beautiful, and the audiences were very kind and responsive. Baltimore is the closest we get to New York for quite a while so we had our creative team, and lots of family and friends visiting this week, which was comforting :)
Stay tuned for the next post - I’ll write about what happens when we get new cast members, and how they get ‘put in’ to the show!
Here are some examples of my daytime adventures on tour so far: