Tag Archives | Swing

The Life of a Swing

Post by Sammi Smith, company member and cast member in The Trouble With Words.

At 1:45am on a Friday night, I received the following text message:

“Hi… Are you able to go on for me tomorrow night?”

It was from Sarah, one of the cast members of Trouble with Words who I understudy for as a swing. I had performed for her once before, but had had several weeks’ notice that time because it had been my scheduled guaranteed performance, an advantage that Coeurage gives all its swings and understudies.

Several thoughts went through my head. First, was Sarah okay? And then, was this a permanent thing? I’m so excited! I have to get my shift covered! Will I remember all my music? I should go over the opener. I have to call my parents! Are all my costumes clean? No coffee for me tomorrow. Where are my ballet shoes? Josh and I need to practice the tango! I should shave my legs…

The work shift was the first obstacle. I was scheduled to work that night as a hostess. Saturday morning was dedicated to calling my co-workers to see if anyone was available. They weren’t. Next, I called my manager and explained the situation. Sarah and I both work there and luckily he likes us both. He was very understanding and said he would find someone. Phew!

Next, I had to assess the costume situation, send word to friends and family, and, of course, prepare. Slightly aromatic pants got a dose of Febreeze and a tumble with a dryer sheet. Luckily my parents had the evening free so they reserved two seats for the show. Then a vocal warm up and music review, singing along with rehearsal tapes, and going over the harmonies that were fuzzy since the last performance. Coffee was nixed and replaced by lots of water to get well-hydrated.

Performing for Sarah the first time was unbelievably thrilling. It was my first performance stepping in as an understudy. Ever. Usually I get a full rehearsal process with gradually added technical elements. Get off book. Stop/start rehearsals. Begin running songs over and over again. Then add lights. Then costumes. Then sound with body mics. Add the live band. Then add the audience. In this instance, all the elements had already been there for weeks, and I felt like the last piece in the puzzle.

What a blur. Big, grateful props to the cast who came in early to run dances and songs. Their subtle guidance on stage steered me from wrong moves and missteps. The girls helped me with my many costume changes and gave me tips on how Sarah handled the transitions. It was over as quick as it began, and I was relieved and exhilarated. Weeks of prep, nerves, and lack of coffee was all worth it, and I would have been perfectly happy to have just had that one night.

Sarah’s text in the middle of the night changed my whole perspective. My life as a swing is not about just one night (of course! duh) but about being ready at a moment’s notice. This was the real challenge, and I spent my day focusing intently on the job at hand, professionally handling the evening. With a successful performance under my belt, an incredibly supportive cast, and the knowledge that I was going to have an amazing time no matter what, I drove to the theatre feeling confident and excited. And at 8:05, the curtain rose…

- Sammi Smith

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The Coeurage Theatre Blog

Are you like the millions and millions of Coeurage fans (dream big, right?) searching for more ways to stay in touch with your favorite Pay-What-You-Want theatre company? Well, look no further. The Coeurage Blog will be having new entries every Wednesday, beginning August 10th.

What can I expect from this Coeurage Blog, you may be asking yourself? Well, I was going to answer that before you started getting all aggressive, so just relax a second. Here, have a Zolax and breathe into this paper bag for a minute.
Better?

Good. Now about that blog…

You can expect stories from behind the curtain; a glimpse into the world of creating theatre where the members of the company are the driving force behind everything you see on stage, in the lobby, the light booth, etc. We are literally getting our hands dirty. Just ask Michelle Stann. That woman’s got the dirtiest hands in the business. Dirty sexy, that is. ;-)

Next week we kick it off with an entry on what it’s like to get less than 24 hours notice that you’ll be performing in a very challenging musical. That’s right — The Life of a Swing. See you back here in exactly one week. Don’t make me find you…

- Chris Roque

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