©Megan Elyse Fulmer 2014
The first official rehearsal day for Americano was March 1st. The whole process was cyclonic. Daily doses of new direction, music, scripts, lyrics. Rehearsal lead to, press performances, previews, canceled performances due to covid, more press, standing ovations, and ultimately, a fruitful finale June 19th, 2022. As glorious as it was, we can’t forget we’re always chasing the next contract. So yes, work ethic got me through an entire run without ever calling out of the show, and a slew of self tapes and in person callbacks, while doing eight, athletic shows a week.
There was no time to really celebrate the closing of this impactful show, because at 10am Monday, June 20th, we were back in a studio for Americano. The reason why will be revealed in time. The following day, a castmate decided to host a party that allowed us to let loose and enjoy the early phases of, “fUNemployment.” Some people had light summer work lined up, but most of us were into the unknown. We exchanged ideas of how we would spend the New York City Summer together, but we also knew the hustle and grind never stops. As much as I wanted to have summer fun, I had to chase the next contract.
Wednesday June 22, I searched for my bus in Port Authority. I had two hours to get to my prima’s high school in Englewood, NJ, and witness her graduation. As I purchased my ticket, I received a phone call from one of my agents. Almost four months to the day, Stages St. Louis called to see if I was available to replace a cast member that dropped out of In the Heights. I was offered swing, dance captain, and understudy Vanessa. I couldn’t believe I’d be flying to St. Louis to do a show I’ve been in love with since it opened on Broadway, with a director/choreographer I’d been eager to work with, in roles that were vital in these covid times.
Work ethic got me to the gate in Laguardia on July 4th, and then to the first day of rehearsal, July 5th. We were already down five company members due to covid before rehearsals began. With my official duties including being the only female swing, dance captain, fight captain, first cover Vanessa and Graffiti Pete, and second cover Camila, I knew I had my work cut out for me (especially being undercast in rehearsals). While trying to breathe through anxiety, another call gave me a breath of fresh air.
July 6th, I received an offer to play Diana Morales in A Chorus Line, at a theater I can announce in due time. A role I always wanted, but always lost out to due to people thinking I didn’t look Puerto Rican enough. The funny part is, I was called in for Cassie initially. I never read any of Diana’s lines, and I never sang her songs. They still took a chance on me. Anyway, I GOT IT, and rehearsals would start September 27th. The stars were aligning. My work ethic was gonna keep me going in theater.
As excited as I was, I needed to stay present. I needed to stay focused on the work in front of me. The slew of work distracted me enough from the email I received six days after my Chorus Line call. On July 12th, I received word that the production of A Chorus Line was being postponed until March 2023. As cool as it is to know you have work lined up in the new year, it wasn’t going to help me get through the remainder of 2022. I gave myself a moment to be upset, but I had to have paciencia y fe. Things had been working out thus far. They had to work out again, right? “Let go. Let God.” Wake up, rehearse, study, self tape. Study rehearse, self tape. Study, study, tech… in person audition?
Sunday afternoon July 17th, I left rehearsal early, and missed out on the In the Heights sitzprobe. I had to fly to New York for a Broadway callback the next day. Monday July 18th, I danced early in the morning. I was asked to stay to sing and act in the afternoon. While waiting to sing, I received a phone call from my agent. Stages St. Louis was scheduled to do A Chorus Line immediately following In the Heights. Funny enough, their Diana dropped out of the show. They were auditioning people to fill her spot. My agent asked me to forward my audition tapes as soon as possible, but again, I never read or sang for that role. The director of A Chorus Line at Stages, Gayle Seay, is also the artistic director of the theater. As much as Gayle believed in me, she needed me to put the entire audition packet together via self tape for the music director and choreographer to see.
Monday evening’s flight was delayed, so Tuesday July 19th, I hopped on the plane at LGA, and flew right into a ten out of twelve tech day for In the Heights. I took my lunch break to study the Diana material, so that I was ready to film the audition during my dinner break on the 20th, and I did. I filmed the dance, side, and song, and was still able to focus on my current job through most of that last day of tech. Only one hour left of the tech day. I was so close to having a moment to decompress.
Well, covid may have made it’s way through the In the Heights cast early on, but injuries made me step into that last hour of tech. Of course it was a track that wasn’t at the top of my list, but I was prepared enough to get through the rest of the second act safely and sufficiently. I was in the process of making mini notebooks for every track I covered, so I went home and continued to work on the track that needed immediate attention until 2:30am.
July 21st, we had one last afternoon to revisit the first act, and work through some technical aspects that needed a little extra TLC. This allowed me one time to do the first act before the final dress rehearsal. The final dress was filmed and photographed for B roll and archives. Yes, the filmed, final dress rehearsal was my first time doing the entire show. I stayed in that track for all of the previews and opening night. As INCREDIBLE as it was to perform a show so dear to my heart, It never feels good knowing the only reason you are currently in it, is because someone is hurting. Being thrown in also took away opportunities to watch, learn, and note the show with Luis before he left.
As the stress of taking charge crept in, another trickle of fate landed in my inbox. I booked the role of Diana Morales at Stages, allowing me to stay in St. Louis for the remainder of the summer, into the fall. I would have one day off after the closing of In the Heights before rehearsals for A Chorus Line the following day. Work ethic kept me continuously working in my craft. It aided me through my responsibilities in In the Heights, and landed me my first principle role in A Chorus Line. It gifted me the confidence to revisit a show I wasn’t sure I could dance again post op. It brought even more brilliant performers into my life, allowing my stages family to expand beyond what I had imagined. Covid caught me at the end, and unfortunately I missed the last five shows as Diana, but that time was everything I needed and more. The cherry on top was my mom surprising me. She happened to make it just in time to see the last two shows I performed before testing positive.
If I’m being completely honest, I think my body needed that premature break. Work ethic plowed me through two years of nonstop work, in and out of my craft. The longest break I ever took was a four day vacation. Yes, I had downtime post op, but that was a challenge in itself. I sit here, two weeks post performance, back in the unknown. I’ll have two weeks away, I have two singing gigs lined up, and about five months until my next theater contract, but as you’ve read, my current situation could change at any second. I’m scared, I’m thankful, I’m exhausted, I’m driven, and I’m finding my pockets of peace. I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I dream of, but my work ethic will keep me going. Let go. Let God, or whatever you believe in.
To whoever reads this, please keep going in whatever you choose for yourself. In this transitional phase of life, know that you are stronger than your current situation. When you continue to put your energy and efforts into what is important to you, the rewards begin to surface. It could take two weeks, it can take two years, but it will come. You can call this cliche, but it’s true. Most importantly, remember I am writing this to encourage you. Don’t compare your journey to mine, or anyone else’s. Our pockets of success, or continued success, will come at different times. What is for us will not pass us. Follow those that you look up to. Follow friends that shine when you shine, and vice versa. Let us root for each other, knowing our time is coming. We’ve survived things we never thought we’d experience in our lifetime. Let that be a reminder that we can continue on, and accomplish all the we want in this world. Paciencia y fe.
Patience and faith. Something that all of us had to find while navigating through a global pandemic. As every industry crumbled, creatives were forced to come to terms with another level of instability. For those of us who have finally broken back into the business, we juggle layers of fear, faith, and fulfillment, proving to ourselves we can still perform. I believe there is one thing we all posses that makes returning to our roots a bit smoother.
Work ethic. The hunger in the never-ending audition grind. I spent a year auditioning through the pandemic, and ankle surgery, repeatedly grinding through the chaos. I wanted to share a little bit of my journey, specifically this past year, in hopes of inspiring people to stick with it. I hope to help you work through those moments of doubt. Reading books and articles on artist’s journeys has kept me going in my lowest moments. So, if you need a boost, this is the blog.
August 6, 2021, I finally received the ankle surgery I needed after a failed workers comp lawsuit (the workers comp injury was pre pandemic). When the pandemic hit, I took a job at Starbucks to earn the health insurance I needed to cover the surgery. Unfortunately, I was not awarded the surgery in the lawsuit. Maybe one day I’ll bring myself to write about that experience, but I digress. I worked multiple jobs to make a living, receive health benefits, and continue to audition via self tape for projects I hoped would not be canceled due to covid. As I settled post op, all work came to an abrupt halt.
Depression deepened now that I wasn’t distracted by my daily duties. All I could do was reflect on everything that lead me to this downtime. I decided to get myself back into therapy, and back to a schedule that gave me time to take care of me, not just my day jobs. The balancing act brought opportunities I had waited two years for.
Six days post surgery, a self tape slid into my emails. A request for a role in the upcoming NYC workshop for Americano a New Musical. The dance portion was a no go, but I strapped my surgical boot tight, angled the camera from the waist up, and filmed my scenes and songs. Not knowing much about the show, I did my best takes with little to no movement, praying you couldn’t hear my boot clacking against the hardwood floor.
My work ethic helped me edit my self tape, hit send, and, “Let go. Let God.” I had never landed a Latine role, even though I am Latina. People see, “Fulmer”, a woman with bright red hair, and make assumptions. They don’t stop to think about my mother’s ethnicity, or the fact that being Latina is an ETHNICITY, not a race. Latine/hispanic people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but I digress. I didn’t want to let those thoughts get in the way of possible work, and I didn’t want to drive myself through the vicious, “what if” cycle. I turned off the actor brain, and took care of ME.
After genuinely forgetting about the Americano audition, I received a request for an Eco Live callback for the workshop. I had never met the casting director, director, music director, or choreographer in person. Auditioning, in general, had changed for me. After a pandemic, and a surgery, I questioned my ability to dance, or perform the way I used to, but I blocked those thoughts because in this new reality, I had nothing to lose. That was a positive lesson from the pandemic. I was just happy to have prospects in performance work. In that virtual audition, I was myself, I did my personal best, and I, “Let go. Let God.”
Just a few weeks later, I was already out of the boot, and active in physical therapy. I was moving quickly through recovery, and had just enough strength to finally film the dance portion
of the Americano audition. After my virtual callback, the creative team wanted to assure I’d fit the style of choreography they needed for the workshop. So, I moved my furniture, filmed the choreography in my living room, edited, hit send, and, “Let go. Let God.”
Well, I booked it. After countless auditions, and what felt like a never ending lawsuit, I was back in theater. My Last theater job, pre pandemic, was the First National Tour of The Bodyguard the Musical. Bodyguard began it’s process at New 42 Rehearsal studios in October 2016. We closed the tour on April 15, 2018. On November 12, 2021, I was back New 42 Rehearsal Studios starting my first job, “post” pandemic. I was beyond ecstatic to be back in my element, but the reality was, it was a two week workshop. There was no guarantee I’d be moving forward with the show if it went anywhere, and I still had seven other jobs I was responsible for. I was able to move certain shifts around for the two weeks, but I was locked into an industrial performance in Atlantic City, and I was scheduled to sing at a bar in Hoboken during that time.
The two weeks flew, and before we knew it, it was Friday morning, aka the morning of presentation 1/3. The producer’s introduction of the presentation included an announcement of an Off-Broadway run of Americano at New World Stages. This was news to everyone, including us performers, but there was no time to dwell on it. I muscled through the first two presentations, took the train to Secaucus, picked up my car, drove straight to Atlantic City, performed the midnight Industrial at Ocean’s Casino, drove to my home in Lawrence Township, NJ, and woke up in time to get back to NYC for the final, Saturday afternoon presentation. I had just enough time to have a quick celebratory meal with new friends, and rush to Hoboken to perform my three hour set at the Stewed Cow. The greatest 48 hour whirlwind I had experienced in years.
Work ethic got me through the workshop and beyond. It shined bright enough for the director to mention his hopes of me continuing on the Americano journey. The show was so important to me that all I could say was, “I would absolutely love to be a part of this moving forward. I also understand that things can change, and if moving forward, I don’t fit the puzzle, yes I would give myself a day to be upset, but I would respect it. Whatever you need to do to get this story told, do it.” In the meantime, I planned to do whatever I needed to do in order to survive, and chase the next contract.
Mornings at Starbucks as your third place shift supervisor. Self tape. Afternoons as your public school choreographer, or musical theater teacher, OR as your Princeton Tesla Advisor. Self tape. Evenings as your Hoboken bar singer, or tristate area wedding singer. Self tape. In person audition. Virtual callback. In person callback. Self tape. The cycle continued.
Work ethic got me through the holiday season, into the new year. By the end of January/ beginning of February, Americano did in fact come through. I was set to start pre production rehearsals for my Off Broadway debut the last week of February. That didn’t stop the auditions from coming. I had, “guaranteed” work from the last week of February through June 19th. That was of course, as long as covid didn’t strike us down. There were plenty of new musicals trying to break through it’s infectious curse, but some just couldn’t beat covid. As nice of a contract as Americano was, the goal was to continue working in theater, and/or TV/film beyond it’s scheduled end date.
I had final callbacks for In the Heights at Stages St.Louis, February 23, 2022. It was thrilling. I looked up to Luis Salgado (the director/choreographer) ever since I met him after one of his performances in Rocky the Musical on Broadway. The initial dance audition was the first time I ever danced for Luis. Luckily, I was partnered with a college friend, hoping we would both book the job. If all worked in my favor, this show had perfect timing. The contract would start July 5th, and give me summer work with a director/choreographer I’d been dying to work with for the past eight years. I danced, I sang, and I acted my best in that room. The second I stepped out of the studio I, “Let go. Let God.” I had no time to dwell. I was already late to the first day of pre pro rehearsals for Americano…..
A Hispanic woman is faced with the day,
She leaves Northern Jersey, and moves to PA.
White husband, 2 kids, and one will come soon.
In a new world, emotions are strewn.
First child is blessed with the skin that’s like hers.
She knows that they’ll have people throwing them spurs.
Husband, her daughter, and new baby three,
Have their own color protecting them free.
Tired, scared, and missing her people,
She wished they could say, “We’re all treated equal.”
Experience here will give them true knowledge.
They’ll learn their privilege.
Mother’s adventures with redheaded daughter,
Strolling down grocery isles, no bother.
White woman stops her now beaming and canny
Says, “Aw, cute baby! Are you the nanny?”
Mother now fuming says, “No she’s mine.”
Continues her journey and gets in a line.
She knows if she fought back it wouldn’t end pretty.
She figures it’s best to lay low in this city.
Bottle it up, go home, and just pray.
Still time to make this a much better day.
Mother will share this when daughter’s older.
The story of white lady, what mommy told her.
Tell daughter details and paint her the image.
She’ll learn her privilege.
First week of school, redhead’s teacher’s pet.
A cute little dancer that Miss never met.
Now comes in mother, and teacher then swore,
She dealt with this Hispanic woman before.
The dark older brother was once in her place.
Treated unjustly, their mother, Miss faced.
And even though brother had much higher grades,
Teacher did not care for mom and his shade.
Daughter’s now treated just fine like the others,
And treatment won’t be half as bad as her brother’s.
Daughter’s confusion is sparked by their visage
She’s learning her privilege.
Loud on the playground, redhead with friends.
Black, White, and Brown, new dances that trend.
Join the Black girls that shake left and right,
Other White girls choose to sit back polite.
Redhead unsure why that can’t all join in,
Some girls are shy due to culture and skin.
Now redhead’s closer to Black girls so proud,
Unsure where she fits, but can’t say out loud.
Redhead’s the mixed one. Hispanic and White.
More White to her left, and Black to her right.
No one relates in her little village.
She’s learning her privilege.
Redhead’s watched mother and brother for years.
Hitting an age where she’s shifting gears.
She’s witnessed their pain that she’s never gotten,
Although, when with mom, kids say she’s adopted.
14, a freshman, she finds a mixed friend.
Finds a new ally whose ideas blend.
People now learn redhead’s half Puerto Rican
One ignorant kid takes his chance to start speaking.
“Get out Mexican.” He exclaims in disorder.
“Grab your lawn mower, and go cross the border.”
Keeping her calm she says eloquently,
“You might want a lesson in geography.”
Ally speaks up, but she’s Black/Hispanic.
Redhead is quick to stop ally in panic.
She knows that with her ally’s much darker tone,
She’ll be punished more than the boy who throws stones.
Redhead spews comebacks, and lays it on thick.
Ignorant boy laughs and calls her a spic.
Fed up, hurt, she makes one last remark.
She and her ally won’t take it to heart.
Redhead’s the one who prevents further damage.
Now she knows her privilege.
Last year in college, redhead’s back from tour,
Making it tough to go back to before.
She meets a new boy that we can call Tony.
He seemed so kind, turns out he’s a phony.
One night while walking they talk of their past,
He made a harsh comment that changed her mind fast.
“If you got with Black men, I couldn’t be with you.”
She says, “Well, I have. I guess there’s an issue.”
He says, “Yea, but they weren’t that dark of men.”
She cuts him off quickly and thinks, “This should end.”
She tried to correct him by teaching him better,
Turns out he’s too cocky to keep them together.
Redhead tried to show him through family and more,
But manipulation, harsh words, hit her core.
She picked herself up ending things with that boy.
She wants to leave school filled with kindness and joy.
First female on mom’s side to get a degree.
Mixed girl with a new BFA in MT.
Family is proud of her finishing college.
She knows it’s a privilege.
Redhead goes on to a pursue her career.
Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian, and Queer.
Some moments feel like they’re actually equal,
Until open calls for shows with certain people.
Looking for Latins, redhead goes on in.
She’s still a Latina despite her light skin.
Sometime she’s welcomed, sometimes there’s shame.
Sometimes she even tries changing her name.
But now in the union, that trick doesn’t work.
She prays they can see in her eyes, or her smirk.
Her manager gets her appointments for roles,
That are Latin women, and meet redhead’s goals.
Casting asks, “experience with speaking Spanish?”
A question that redhead thought Equity banished.
“My mom’s Puerto Rican,” she says fighting tension
Casting got answer with calculated question.
“I don’t have to ask the inappropriate one!”
Casting continues, but redhead is done.
“Why was I called in?” Redhead asks herself.
“My headshot could just have been left on the shelf.”
Or even better, another role on the line.
A character who’s skin tone they think will match mine.
Ambiguous actors are the hot thing.
More opportunities we’re told it will bring.
Redhead fights on to get any show.
A role or a moment. Let the resume grow.
She sees other friends that are trapped in a square.
One look, minority, little chances there.
Passing both White and Hispanic’s an advantage.
She knows her privilege.
Now 27, redhead’s seen every state.
She’s seen every race in their heated debate.
She’s witnessed the pain of her family and more.
Even younger brother faced pain she’s endured.
Her cousin’s, her uncle’s, her aunt’s family bloom.
African, Jamaican, Hispanics in the room.
So many shades that share the same blood.
In addition, she’s dated some colorful studs.
Redhead experiences hate second hand,
Whether with family, her friends, or ex man.
Unafraid of discussions to speak on the problem,
She’s never done anything big that will solve them.
Discussions with likeminded people share toasts,
But never with people that need it the most.
Redhead must speak out for those in her lineage.
She must use her privilege.
Now, I see Covid and Racists galore.
Anxiety, hatred, blood on the floor.
Real change is coming with time to protest.
Leaving the fascists and foes in distress.
For those who don’t speak out, I’ll listen. Explain,
Why you still choose to sit back and refrain?
You’ll put in your head phones engulfed in their culture,
But won’t fight the hate that attacks like a vulture.
You can stay silent and fear alt-right shame,
Or you can take part in this beautiful change.
This will take time, and money, a village.
We must use our privilege.
Yes, the redhead you read of is me.
My mother, my brothers, friends and family.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by diversity,
Even LGBTQ community.
Sharing some fragments of my life story,
Continuing this speech is now mandatory.
I know that I’ll truly never understand,
The harshest of treatment by evil, racists hands.
I promise to educate myself in this time,
And stand by my loved ones through their uphill climb.
I ask you, have you taken time to reflect?
Evaluate choices, and who you protect?
What is your mission, and what is your freedom?
How can you educate others and lead them?
I encourage you to join me in this mission.
Use your own voice, and choose your position.
I’ll keep chanting, fighting, promoting the message.
I know my privilege.
As a dancer, trying to work through an injury is never easy. Not only is your passion put on hold, but you don’t know the long-term effects of this break from the business. This is the longest I’ve gone without a theater job in my entire professional career, and not only does it bruise the ego a bit, but it causes issues like not gaining enough equity work weeks, therefore resulting in my loss of affordable, union healthcare. Though the bumps on this journey towards recovery have been very difficult to get over, I’ve found more patience, trust, and acceptance in my process.
There are three key things that I’ve learned in talking to friends, mentors, other performers, my boyfriend, and family. Trust me, I’m still trying to practice what I’m about to preach. Our well-being and stability will always be a work in progress. These three things could be considered common sense for some, but sometimes it takes a certain person, or hearing/reading things a certain way, for any guidance to really resonate with us. It’s not always easy to focus on the positive. We all have our days where the concept of positive thinking is easier than others, but these three ideas are tools that have allowed me to hop back on a brighter bandwagon after a darker day.
1. Run your body like you would run your business.
Pretend you’re a manager at a frozen yogurt shop. If the frozen yogurt machines crash, and everything is melting, would you just leave the machines broken? No. Everything would spoil, it would be a waste of money, and you would lose business. When it comes to your body and getting the help you need to recover, take every step you need to take to get your machine running again. If you have a difficult time with an insurance company, a doctors office, whoever says they will help you and your livelihood, stay on top of them until the job is done. The squeaky wheel truly does get greased up. Fight for your right to heal because it IS your right. If they drop the ball, what will you do to pick that ball back up and score? Your body is your business, so don’t let anyone else let you forget that.
In addition, you have to listen to your body. If you’ve been in the gym working on the other half of your body that isn’t injured, and everything is feeling a bit fatigued, do not be ashamed of giving your body that much needed rest day, or even two! If your injuries are flared, and you realize you haven’t done any strengthening exercises for your injury, set aside the time to do so, whether it be at the gym or at home. Research more at-home exercise for your specific injury if need be. If you don’t have the time, the means, or the support in order to seek treatment, research what specific foods will nurture and aid in healing the ligaments, bones, muscles, etc. And if all of this is just a bit too much at the end of the night, and you just need a glass of wine and a personal pizza, do it! Don’t be ashamed. Listen to your body like you would listen to a concerned employee. Together (your mind and body) will find the solution towards having your body up and running at full capacity. Things may not be up and running as soon as you want it to be, but sometimes businesses take more time to develop. You must have patience in the process.
2. Find a positive outlet outside of your craft.
When I got injured, my initial reaction was to focus this downtime from dancing on acting and singing. I got into two acting studios I’ve been dying to study at, and I began taking voice lessons/ working with vocal coaches. I thought that would be fulfilling enough, but I started to feel depressed. I no longer felt like I was working towards being a complete triple threat. Being out of work in the industry for so long caused me to lose confidence in any talent I may have. I needed something outside of acting, singing, and dancing in order to have some sort of fulfillment. Writing became a great outlet. Starting this blog not only helped me work on my writing skills, but I heard from other people that found inspiration in hearing my story. Though I am thankful for, and still study my craft and writing, I needed to find other positive activities that had nothing to do with ANYTHING performing arts. I realized I needed to take myself on dates, read more, go shopping, meditate, and anything else that would help me define my version of #selfcare. As New Yorkers, we’re taught to hustle and fight for what is ours. Constantly fighting to fix your body, career, relationships, etc. can leave you feeling emptier than ever. Find the things that fill your tank in the meantime.
3. Surround yourself with people that help you glow and add an extra shine around your halo.
As performers, we are fortunate enough to work with many different people from all over the world. Some of those people become family for life. Whether you talk to those forever friends everyday, every week, or every few months, they are the ones that know how to lift you up without just saying things they know you want to hear. They will embrace the reality, but remind you of the amazing qualities you have that prove you're stronger than your current situation. If it’s been a while since you’ve caught up with those friends, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. When you go out for drinks with these friends, are they constantly drowning in the negative, or do they vent and talk through issues until you can find a solution together? Do you feel inspired by their conversations? Are you laughing more than crying? Do they give you the tough love you know you need in order to get through this difficult time in your life? Do they actually listen when you need someone to talk to, and are you actively listening to them in return? Is the effort and the love reciprocated? These are very important questions to ask yourself, because if you find the average answer I no, then you will leave yourself feeling empty again. Your relationships, whether it be with a friend, partner, or family, need to fill you in order for you to keep giving back. There has to be a mutual love and respect in order for everyone to keep shining.
Ultimately, these are things I’m actively working through on a daily basis. It’s grown to be more habitual over time, but again, we embrace the bad days with the good, and continue to learn the best ways for us to move forward. When those bad days want to take over, or like me, you wake up feeling anxious sometimes for no particular reason, ask yourself these three questions: Am I listening/actively giving my body what it needs? Have I done anything in the last fews days that are just fun activities that lift my spirits? Have I spent quality time with positive people that love me as much as I love them? If you can get to a point where you’re answering yes to all of these questions, then you are on the right track, even if it doesn’t immediately feel that way. If you are able to answer yes, then you have a lot more to be thankful for than you may recognize day to day. If you can answer yes, then I’m proud of you.
Time flies with you from city to city. You land in Costa Mesa knowing three weeks stand between you and a four-week layoff. Five months straight with only one week off truly takes a toll on your body. Your energy boost comes from your new love developing. Harry has already flown to three cities to see you, and one of those cities he flew to twice! Through the new development of your relationship, he’s been by your side to witness the new development of your cast. People have come and gone, and more intend to go as the break approaches; one of those cast members happens to be your dance captain.
It saddens you knowing your dance captain leaves in two months. His positivity and kind spirit influences your cast in the best way. The bitter loss brings a sweeter opportunity to mind. While working through the rehearsal process, you formed a solid foundation with the creative team. You begin to replay a specific conversation with associate choreographer, Amy.
“Megan, have you ever swung before?”
“Yeah, actually on my first tour I was the only female swing. It was a lot, but it’s definitely made me stronger.”
“That makes so much sense. I could tell you’ve had experience because of the way you work, but wasn’t positive. You seem to be aware of everything going on around you in each number. Have you ever wanted to be a dance captain or associate choreographer?”
“I have! I want to work my way up to that. I mean, once you’ve been swing, you feel like you can do anything.”
“I felt the same way after I swung my first show. Good to know.”
Your dance captain wasn’t given an assistant once the tour launched, but you hoped the opportunity would present itself. He had a heavy load of responsibility every night on stage, let alone the rehearsals and auditions he ran as dance captain during the day. You hoped you could be the one to help lighten the load, but it didn’t seem to fit the budget. Maybe his leave would be your promotion. You toy with the idea and decide to give your manger, Gregg a call.
After catching up with Gregg and expressing your interest in the dance captain position, you both decide to let things play out without informing the team of your interest. At the end of the day, you know the creative team and producers already have someone in mind. In your gut, you know you qualify. You glance down at your golden Alex and Ani bracelet and read aloud the quote that dangles from your charm.
“What is for you will not pass you.”
The bus rumbles beneath you as you pass a sign reading “Welcome to San Diego.” The two weeks in Costa Mesa ended with your shoulder taped up and feeling weaker than ever. Your shoulder has been in pain, but you always do your best to push through the pain and go on with the show. Your shoulder no longer feels that you should push, so you called out for the last two days. You arrive in San Diego and immediately Uber to a sports medicine doctor in the area.
The tedious examination results in a week of no dancing due to a sprained shoulder. Not only do you feel terrible about the outcome, but your younger brother graduates from college tomorrow. You already felt guilty for missing this monumental moment, now you feel even worse knowing you won’t even be working. Your company managers know your situation and watch you drag yourself into the elevator and up to your room. Minutes later, you receive a call from your company manager Brian.
“So, we know you want to make it to your brothers graduation. Rather than sitting here, there’s a flight that leaves in a few hours that will get you into Newark around 8am. If we do this, would you make it in time?”
“YES!!! OH MY GOD THANK YOU! THIS MEANS THE ABSOLUTE WORLD TO ME! I CAN NOT THANK YOU ENOUGH!”
An hour later, you slide into another Uber and begin the journey home. Your four week layoff just turned into five. Your spirits lift knowing you’re a night away from family, but in the back of your mind you fear this could hurt your chances of being considered for dance captain. To calm the thoughts that run through your anxious mind, you glance down at your golden bracelet.
“What is for you will not pass you.”
Hand in hand, you and Harry drive through Maryland after his long day of work. You’re halfway through your layoff and you already feel rejuvenated. Your shoulder, ankle, and mind all thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of family, and the man you love. You look to your left smiling at Harry, staring at his dark hair with its natural, dashing grey streak that swipes to the right across the front of his hairline. Your glance lowers to his suave glasses, his soft smile, his light blue blazer, all the way to his fingers intertwined with yours.
The buzzing of your phone bursts your heartfelt bubble. General manager’s name lights up the top of your screen. Your thumb swipes from left to right and you raise the phone to your ear.
Jim asks how your shoulder is feeling and if your break has been enjoyable. Small talk fades, and he gets down to business.
“You’re what I like to call a spitfire,” he expresses. “Your energy and style brings a fire to the stage. I’m sure you’ve heard, but Benji will be leaving the tour after Houston. After going back and forth with the creative team and those involved here at Troika, I’d like to offer you the dance captain position.”
You begin bouncing around in the passenger seat and mouth, “YES!” to Harry. He stares in confusion, but knows it’s positive, so he doesn’t ask questions. He waits patiently as Jim continues to break down details of the position and the benefits that come with it. You breath with relief knowing you will have an assistant dance captain, and you both will have time to shadow Benji before he leaves. They even plan on flying Amy to an upcoming city so that you can continue your D.C. training with her. You know you have A LOT to learn. You haven’t had to focus on anyone else’s track but your own. Knowing the amount of support you will have allows you to fully celebrate this career-changing achievement. Knowing you also have the support of Harry as he joins in your celebration makes the experience that much more rewarding. You knew you could get the job done for the creative team. You’ve done it naturally. You’ve earned their trust. Now you must prove you can keep it.
To my readers,
I first want to thank everyone who has put themselves “in my shoes” by reading my blog thus far. For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I’ve been wanting to create a vlog the would correlate with the blog you’re reading now. I have filmed many different versions, and even began editing content, but I am my biggest critic and don’t feel the product is ready to be permanently published for the world to see. That being said, I do want to share with you the ten questions I collected from followers, and I’d like to make this an ongoing segment. “You’re Asking M.E.” will be featured here on “In Our Shoes” once a month. I will spend four weeks collecting questions from you about anything relating to my blog, or anything you’d like to know regarding the world of a performer. You can contact me by commenting below on the blog forum, through the “contact” page on my website, or by DMing me on Instagram @meg_fulms. Now, with out further ado, let’s answer some questions!
How could you sum up “In Our Shoes” in one sentence?
“In Our Shoes” is a blog that allows any reader to put themselves inside the mind of a performer and takes them on the journey of a performer on their road to success.
What was your driving force or inspiration behind the creation of “In Our Shoes?”
The week before Bodyguard closed, I injured myself in the middle of the show. Through my experience with workers compensation, I realized there are people who’s job is to help people like me recover, but they don’t understand what performers go through or what our jobs entail. They don’t understand that it’s not about collecting a paycheck, it’s about the passion and love we have for performing.
When did you first find an interest/passion for performing?
My first recital. My mom put me into dance classes right before I turned three, but I didn’t like being away from her, so she pulled me out of the studio. The following year she tried again. Two months into classes, I said I didn’t want to dance anymore, but my mom already paid for the recital costume, so she said I had to finish the year. Well, recital came, I rocked it on stage, and when I got backstage I told my mom I had to do it again!
Will readers who are not involved in the Broadway industry still be able to understand and relate to your story?
I think the readers will learn to understand more about the industry, and will find relatable moments. I think most industries are difficult to cross into these days. Most importantly, I think this will give non-performers a moment to empathize with the show people who smile through any performance no matter what their day entails.
What are the challenges of being dance captain and the dance captain’s rehearsal process?
Well, I didn’t start with the show as dance captain; I started taking over about five months into the tour. I started learning all of the men’s choreography, and jumped into teaching new castmates the show immediately. Since I wasn’t a swing, or in a position where I needed to learn every dance track, I was forced to learn a lot in a very short amount of time. Rehearsing all day and doing my own track at night got a bit draining, especially when having to do athletic men’s choreography during the day and my own energetic track at night. Eventually, I was given some nights to rest my body and note the show while having daytime rehearsals with new cast members.
How has writing this blog helped your recovery process?
It’s helped me remember that I have faced many challenges before “The Bodyguard,” and I will continue to work through new challenges after. It’s helped me focus on finding the positivity with all that I have gained throughout my time in the industry.
Is there a silver lining in your forced down time and recovery?
YES! I have learned so much more about myself and have gained experience that has made me a stronger person. I’m excited for the chance to utilize this new strength in whatever my next show will be.
What is something your readers can look forward to?
My readers can look forward to learning more about what performers can experience when their shows run longer than a year, and they can look forward to learning more about how this industry can effect one’s personal life.
What about “In Our Shoes” are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the way my career has evolved, and I’m proud to share it. In the first post, you get a sense of just how hard I’ve worked and the hurdles I’ve jumped to get where I am today. I want to inspire others in the industry and anyone who has a dream to continue to work hard as they chase their dreams.
Where do you see “In Our Shoes” going in the next year?
I want to to continue to share what I experienced with “The Bodyguard,” I want to add a Vlog that will go into more detail about certain blog posts, and I hope to book the next show sooner than later so that we can enjoy this roller coaster of a journey together!
With heavy eyes and a foggy mind, you enter your new room in Baltimore, Maryland. You spent last night partying with your older brother, absorbing your last bit of family time in Philly. You spent the entire week in Philadelphia spreading yourself thin by seeing as many friends and family as possible, all while doing the show each night. The injury, the celebrating, and the show force you to reevaluate the way you choose to live on the road. Since you have the rest of Monday off, you plan a lunch and grocery trip with your friend and fellow castmate, Sean.
Walking towards an empty both in Panera, you and Sean begin expressing the different challenges you both have faced thus far. Through your exhaustion, you continue the conversation. “Sean, I need a fresh start. I feel like I need a complete mental and physical cleanse. I’ve been so stressed and it’s weighing on me. I need to start making some changes.”
You agree to cut communication with your ex, cut back the partying, and you plan to alter your diet. In eleven weeks, you will be opening “The Bodyguard” at the Hollywood Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. You plan to take new headshots while staying in LA for 3 weeks, so you want to look and feel your very best. For the next eleven weeks, in addition to eating clean, you will create a workout routine that won’t overly exhaust you before showtime. Sean is one hundred percent on board and looks forward to witnessing your transformation. He’s the perfect friend to share your goals with because you know he’ll continue to motivate you towards a happy, healthy future.
After your first full day of clean eating and pre-show exercises, you have the perfect amount of energy for opening night at the Hippodrome Theater. The Hippodrome is providing an opening night party in the lobby of the theater. You didn’t bring anything nice to wear, because you weren’t sure that going to an opening night party would be the best decision after expressing the need to cut back the partying. Sean walks back to the hotel with you and escorts you to your room. You begin looking through clothes, still debating whether or not you should attend this party. “Bitch get dressed. You’re going. There’s free food and free wine. If the food is crap, we’ll go home.” Your gaze shifts from the mirror to Sean. “You’re right. Ok, let’s go.”
You walk into the theater’s lobby in boots not meant for fancy parties. Those boots have no heel, so until your ankle is closer to feeling one hundred percent; they’re your only option. Luckily, you’ve maintained the fresh blow out you got at a salon in Philly, so you enter the party feeling confident, at least from the knee up. You walk up the stairs onto the balcony and join the festivities. Immediately, you and Sean find the food table. They have a great salad option for you, so you fill up your plate and walk towards the bar. You quickly eat your salad so that you don’t have to juggle your food and your cabernet. You swallow the last bite, and wash it down with the first sip of wine. You begin scanning the clumps of people around the room. You recognize the clump of talented musicians, but one face doesn’t seem familiar. You look a little longer and realize you unfortunately have never seen that handsome face before. You were always going to say hello to your friends in the band, but now, motivation rushes you in their direction.
You enter the circle of men, intentionally standing to the right of the one you don’t know. You look up at the mystery man and only say, “Hi.” You say hello to the rest of the band members in the circle as you wait for mystery man to acknowledge you. They exchange their hellos, and mystery looks down to reply. “Oh. Hey!” As the conversation flows throughout the circle, you learn that this man, Harry, has been friends with the trumpet player, David since they were 15 years-old. David has been touring for the past 13 years, and ever since Harry moved to Maryland, David has stayed at his house when he plays a show close by. Since the whole cast and crew received comp tickets and plus-ones for this opening party, Harry came along. David continues to share his interest in making empanadas while staying with Harry. You look across the circle at David. “I love empanadas! When is this happening?” Dave smirks, noticing how close you’ve chosen to stand next to his best friend.
“I don’t know! Thursday?”
You smile wide, and invite yourself to enjoy the taste treats. “Thursday works for me!”
Conversation continues to swirl around the circle, but your eyes only see Harry’s. He hasn’t been able to keep his eyes off of you either. He begins asking you questions and the two of you continue to have a private conversation. Before you know it, you and Harry are the only ones left standing together. You both pause for a moment, realizing the rest of the band has dispersed, but you don’t want to lose momentum. You take the initiative to keep the energy going.
“So, Thursday?” He smiles. “Yes! Thursday it is!” Expecting him to ask for your number, you give him a verbal nudge. “Great! So, how will I know where to go, or what time to arrive?” Realizing he’s forgetting an important detail, “Oh! Walk with me.” He puts out his right arm to link with your left. You walk towards an isolated area of the lobby. “May I please have your number?” You give him your number and he continues to lead you towards a quiet nook near the bathrooms and the kitchen. “Ok, I have to ask. May I kiss you?” Your heart flutters and your smile brightens. Without showing how completely giddy you feel, you keep it cool. “Of course.” He gently places his hands on your cheeks and kisses you. He pulls back and looks up at the ceiling. “Ummmm, one more.” He looks into your eyes before placing a peck on your lips. Pulling away again he says, “Ok one more.” He repeats the act of endearment. “Ok just one more.” By the third one, you try to hold back the laughter, but you continue to chuckle as his lips are upon yours. You part ways, and meet with Sean. “I can’t believe I wasn’t going to come tonight! Thank you for getting me to this party!” Sean additionally swooning over Harry, “Girl he is fine! You’re welcome.”
On a chilly Sunday night, you sit in the passenger seat of Harry’s white Mercedes with ice saran-wrapped around your ankle to decrease swelling after an eventful five-show weekend in Baltimore. You can’t believe Harry picked you up from the theater to enjoy a third night together. You two have been smiling and laughing since your first date on Thursday. As he zooms onto the highway, your heart sinks a bit, realizing this is the last time you will take this drive with him for a long time, or maybe ever. Will he want to continue seeing you knowing you signed a contract that will keep you away for another 15 months?
Back in his house, Harry holds you in his arms as you continue sharing life stories, learning and loving more about him. Loving? Yes. Crazy? Maybe, but you can’t help this overwhelming, unfamiliar sensation. Something about him feels right without explanation. In complete awe of what has come over you, you soak up this beautiful moment. From your experience on your last two tours and other regional productions, you thought people could never find anyone worth pursuing while on the road. You thought people could only wind up in a temporary showmances that ends soon after the production comes to a close. You never thought you would have the chance of meeting someone worth pursuing beyond a first date, let alone someone who isn’t in the industry. You’ve always wanted to meet a man who isn’t a performer, but still understands the lifestyle. When a show consumes your world, the chances of meeting a wonderful someone who isn’t a performer seems slim to none, but Harry could be the man to prove your all of your theories wrong.
The doubt of seeing Harry again fades as conversation flows deeper into the night.
“I really hope to see you again. I know you were thinking of coming to San Diego for David’s birthday, but it would cool to see you before six months from now. I’d like to keep talking if want to.”
“Yea, of course. Just text me tomorrow. If I hear from you, I’d love to keep talking.”
“I will for sure.”
Based on his past, he reluctantly says, “Ok, we’ll see if you do.”
The following morning, Harry drives you and David to the airport to join the rest of your cast for a one-way flight to Charlotte. Parked in front of Southwest Airlines, Harry helps you remove your luggage from the trunk, and you share one last kiss. “I will be sure to text you when I land.” He smiles back at you. “I hope so.” He drives off, leaving you flustered with a mix of emotions. You drop your luggage off, pass through TSA, and settle onto the plane. Remembering that he’s not allowed to have his personal phone at his office, you begin drafting a text that he will come back to after a long work day. You’ve dreamt of a man like Harry for a long time. You don’t want to let him go. This is a great first gesture towards a man who could be a positive addition to your journey towards an all around healthier life style.
You gaze out the window as the cast bus rolls on from Columbus, Ohio to Philadelphia. Your phone alerts you of a new email from Allen Foster. Foster, along with other Bucks County press, have been calling you the past two weeks to do an interview before arriving in your hometown. Foster’s article is titled “Megan Fulmer, Bucks County’s Treasure, appearing in The Bodyguard.” Your heart fills with joy and feels as if a bright yellow light shines through your puffy winter coat. After sitting for a week in Columbus and watching the full show from the audience to rest your ankle, this headline makes any pain go away. Your ankle has reached about 85% health, and good fortune has healed you just in time to dance for friends and family. Your eyes continue to gaze past the window’s barrier and you begin to recognize familiar venues like the Wells Fargo Center, where you performed as a 76ers Jr. Dancer from 2003-2005. Now, 12 years later, you will fulfill your dreams of performing onstage at the Academy of Music. Your cheeks spread to a warm smile as the bus takes you closer to the hotel where your parents anxiously await your arrival.
You feel like a little kid running home from your first day of kindergarten as you peer into the hotel lobby where your parents stand grinning. “Meggy!!! Hi honey!” After the the stress that built towards the end of your time in Chicago, and being out of the show for an entire week, hugs from your parents heal every emotional and physical wound. Your younger brother lives in Philly and meets you and your parents at a restaurant two blocks away from the hotel. As you enter the pub and walk past the bar, you suddenly recognize classmates from high school. Before you know it, you see more old friends that you haven’t stayed connected with since you graduated.You choose not to say anything to them; you’re enjoying time with your family. Once you leave Philly to head to the next city, you won’t see your family for five months, so you want to soak up every second of time you’ll get with them this week. You finish your meal and get up to use the bathroom. In that time, some of your drunken classmates greet you and you take ten minutes to catch up. You gesture to your family, they meet a few of the other Pennsbury alumni, and then you walk back to the hotel to have just a few more minutes of family time before you shut down and rest. You need plenty of sleep to ensure a strong comeback in front of loved ones that plan on seeing you live your dreams.
Tuesday you arrive at the theater an hour early for physical therapy. The nerves flutter through your stomach, but your excitement won’t let it overwhelm you. At the end of your session, the physical therapist wraps your ankle for protection and assures you this will be a successful opening despite the injury. You hurry to the company meeting, and then begin stretching before soundcheck. Your stage manager’s voice rings through the monitors in your dressing room.
“Can I have the ensemble to stage for ‘How Will I Know?’”
With your mic in place, you step onto the stage. That light in your heart beams brighter than the ones that hang above your head. You look out and pan the theater. The last time you were inside the Academy of Music, you sat in the audience with your choir director and voice teacher supporting high school alumnus, and your teacher’s former student, Christy Altomare, who starred as Wendla in Spring Awakening’s first national tour. At that time, you smiled with a mouth full of braces, dreaming of the day you would be on that stage. Nine years later, the time has arrived. A rush of adrenaline guides you through soundcheck into the moment you stand in your opening position.
The confetti cannons pop and the crowd is on their feet, roaring louder than any other audience before them. You expect nothing less from the lovely men and women of Philadelphia. You grew up with enough Eagles and Phillies fans to know when anyone from Philly finds something they thoroughly enjoy, they will continue to support that thing with more passion than you could ever imagine. Your older and younger brothers, your cousin Kiana, and your ex greet you at the stage door. Your ex insisted on being at the opening just like he insists on sending you flowers for every opening in every city since he showed up empty-handed at the Papermill Playhouse opening.You appreciate the gesture, but your family is here and a dream just came true, so you allot your time accordingly.
You bring your crew to the opening night party held at The Ritz-Carlton. Your older brother holds his copy of a Deborah Cox album he bought when he was a kid. You two spent many car rides Jamming out to her albums, and now your brother stands beside you as you introduce him to Deborah. Your heart glows and lights up the dim room where your brother shares his story of searching many music stores to buy a specific album that had one of his favorite Deborah Cox songs. She smiles and thanks him for his support throughout the years. You see the 12-year old version of him try to hide his excitement as she signs his CD. This was the perfect cherry on top of a memorable evening.
The whirlwind of a week has already flown you into Friday morning. You’ve had family and friends come to support you at every performance thus far, including the choir director and voice teacher you sat with when you watched “Spring Awakening.” The support fills you with gratitude, and it looks as though that support will continue until the final performance in Philly. Those thoughts keep you smiling as you and your mom walk to a local nail salon to meet Deborah, Roni, Alejandra, Naomi, and Jasmin for a mani-pedi. Never did your 7 year-old self think you and your mom would be getting mani pedis with Deborah Cox. After a fresh coat of pink and gold polish, you all migrate to a hip restaurant for lunch. You sit at the table and your heart begins to glow as your mom and Deborah chat about music, the latest on “Love and Hiphop,” and what it’s like to raise three kids, and the difference between raising boys and girls. You chuckle after watching your mom behave the exact same way your brother did during their interactions with Miss Cox. With a full heart and belly, you go back to your hotel room and prepare for PT. You’ve done a great job of taking care of your ankle, but you just want to make sure you can maintain strength going into a five-show weekend.
Each audience fills the theater with love stronger than the night before. Radio shows continue to promote the show even though very few tickets are available for these last two performances. You walk into PT on this Sunday morning for your final treatment of the week. Your ankle feels tired and sore, but you want to close the week strong. You proceed to flow through the exercises that have been given to you by your physical therapist, Angelica. You leave to finish your wig prep, but return to have her wrap your ankle right before changing into your opening costume. Knowing you have parents affiliated with your high school’s theater department in the audience pushes you through the matinee before your parents arrive for the closing performance.
Your younger brother joins you and your parents for one more dinner before the last show. The pressure of performing through an injury, and all the time you’ve spent catching up with friends and family after each show, takes a toll on you. You even plan to meet your older brother after the closing show for one last hoorah before leaving Philly. Though your body feels heavy, and an overwhelming sensation is boiling up, the stress calms down as you smile at your parents across the table and release a sigh of relief. Having the people who helped you get to where you are today gives you everything you need rise above it all. You didn’t realize just how much you need them here to end the week strong. Tour is stressful, injuries and people come and go, but you will always have your family when you need them most.
The wheels of the airplane release from underneath you, preparing to rumble and jolt on the runway of the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. You and the rest of the cast race off the plane and load onto the bus that transports you from the airport to the hotel. The cast looks forward to the luxury of a two week sit down at the Oriental Theatre. The celebration of two full weeks in one city commences with a ladies’ night including castmates Jasmin, Emily, and Arielle.
You quickly change into your dark blue, detailed jeans, black, heeled boots, and a long-sleeve black top with a triangular cut out on your chest, painting the illusion of wearing a thick black choker. You meet the other three ladies in the hotel lobby and wait for the Uber Emily ordered to take you to “Duck Duck Goat,” the restaurant her good friend works at. Emily’s friend greets you at the front of the restaurant and another new face joins the mix: Arielle’s friend from Hamilton’s Chicago cast, Chloe. Chloe brings such a lovely light and energy to the table as you all continue to share delicious dishes and conversation. Dinner turns to drinks and the laughter continues. The ladies of The Bodyguard plan to have a ladies’ night in Chicago, but Emily doesn’t know that it’s in her honor since sadly, she will be leaving the cast at the end of the two weeks. Chloe and Arielle plan to bring both the Bodyguard and Hamilton ladies together one day this week for a ladies’ night dinner, and it appears that you have something planned almost every night this week. You’ll sleep when you’re dead.
For the first time in four weeks, you break your morning ritual to sleep in after a long Monday night out. You take time for a lavender epsom salt bath before opening night; the chill of The Windy City can cause extra stress on your joints and muscles, so you take extra precaution healing your body. Castmates are already fighting colds with the seasonal change, and you have yet to call out of a performance. You take a trip to Trader Joe’s to buy apple cider vinegar and other remedies that prevent illness from infecting you, knowing that you will have more late nights out than usual.
After an easy-going afternoon, you walk to the theater with Jorge, Alejandra, and Lauren. You complete your pre-show tasks and change into your costume for “Queen of the Night.” You walk to your opening position and as you hit your number, the theater rumbles and the drums cue the lights. As Deborah proudly belts the lyrics, “I ain’t nobody’s angel…” the boys lay flat on the ground with the ensemble women walking over them. You always lock eyes with an audience member in this moment to help you concentrate on your foot pattern so that you don’t step on one of the guys. Tonight, your eyes shockingly meet a familiar gaze.
I really think it’s Ryan, but it can’t be. What would he be doing in Chicago?
You recognize the face of someone you happened to go on a few dates with in NYC. You don’t let this throw you mid dance number, but as you run to your next quick change, you tell the ladies what just happened.
You tuck another successful opening under your belt and free your hair from the braided wig prep. You, Jasmin, Arielle, your makeup and hair guy Cosmo, and Emily decide to grab a bite to eat and have your own mini opening night celebration. Your phone dings and lights up the palm of your hand.
“Hey Meg, this is really random, but my family flew me to Chicago to see the Steve Harvey Show for my 30th birthday. I wanted to catch a Broadway show while I was out here, and since I don’t do social media anymore I completely forgot you were in “The Bodyguard.” Well, I just saw the show and you lit up the stage as always. Congratulations love.”
“I KNEW IT,” you blurt out loud. You show the text to your friends and invite Ryan to join you all for a bite to eat. You all spend the night celebrating as you had the night before.
Your alarm rings at 9:00am and somehow you don’t hit snooze. You throw on some athletic wear and meet six other cast members at Barry’s Boot camp for a 10:00am class. Your partner, Bradford has worked for Barry’s for a long time now and invites you guys to take his class. Luckily you didn’t drink too much last night, so no hangover will break the Barry’s butt-kicking. Somehow you maintain the energy to explore Chicago with Lauren, Alejandra, and Jorge before the show.
The confetti cannons pop, you rush off stage, and you and the ladies primp for the speakeasy Emily’s friend recommended. You and the other ensemble women, Jasmin, and Chloe, come together for a night of laughing and showering Emily with love while you still can. You later join a chunk of the “Hamilton” cast for drinks at an underground tiki bar. Some men of “Hamilton” treat you ladies to two rounds of drinks, and the two casts migrate to another club actually called “The Underground.” The night lingers until your phone reads 2:30am. You close out, and stumble into your room at 3:15 am.
Thursday morning’s routine seems to be out the door. Another epsom salt bath will remedy another long day followed by another crazy night out. You take another shot of apple cider vinegar with honey and cinnamon, and drink another packet of Emergen-C. You make the smart choice to relax most of the day. Soul Cycle gifted the cast with free classes for two weeks, so you, Emily, and Lauren take an afternoon class as a pre-show warm up before walking to the theater. As you braid your hair, you and the other ladies chat about last night and speculate on what ladies’ night will be like tomorrow with the women of “Hamilton.” You, Emily, and Arielle stepped out of character going out every night since you got to Chicago. You turn to your left and say to Emily, “We’ve been eating at bougie restaurants, taking high-end fitness classes, and going out like it’s our job. Who do we think we are? The Real Housewives of Chicago?” The ladies laugh and disperse for places.
Friday night post-show, you walk with the ladies of “The Bodyguard” towards the restaurant that the “Hamilton” ladies chose for dinner. Some men of “Hamilton” heard about the plan for ladies’ night, and decided to grab dinner at the same time. Jokingly offended that they can’t sit with us, they find a separate area of the restaurant anxiously waiting to join us post dinner. You reconnect with ladies you know from the “Hamilton” cast, and get to know the ones who are new to you. After a quick bite, the night leads you back to The Underground for a night of endless dancing with both casts. Another night of you walking into your room at 4:00 am. Luckily, this means you and “Sir” are up at the same time, so it gives you both a chance to catch up. Your head hits the pillow and your eyes shut at 5:30 am.
A week and a day have flown by since the combined ladies’ night and you’ve cut back on being a queen of the night; you leave that for show time. Between partying, illness, the loss of a cast member, rehearsing a new member, and new tension between ensemble members, you feel everything take a toll on your body. You only have to make it through one show tomorrow, and then you fly out of the Chicago chaos. You enter the stage for the Saturday night finale, pushing through pure exhaustion. At the end of the first chorus, you cha cha your way to your partner, Brendon. You continue the partner work as he lifts you up to the left and prepares to put you down on his right. As you start to land, he brings you in a little too close. Your black sneaker wedge lands on his Adidas, and your ankle rolls. Luckily, you land far enough stage right that you can hobble to steps into the wings. You collapse and crawl further out of the way. Your assistant stage manager calls the Physical Therapist up to stage level, and you swallow two Advils. You haven’t called out up until now. Looks like you need some time off.