©Megan Elyse Fulmer 2014
As tech comes to an end, there’s one more piece to the puzzle: you get to record backup vocals that will be used during each performance. Other productions of The Bodyguard have opened in countries like Germany, Korea, and more. In those productions around the world, Bodyguard dancers aren’t singing live while dancing. That’s why the choreography is so high impact. Equity makes the U.S. ensemble sing live, but they still want you to have a light back track as support without having to change the original choreography. You get to record your own track on stage today! The women have an earlier call time since they have the most backup vocals in the show. Off to the van you go!
You take role in your van and notice two ladies missing. One is sick and lost her voice, and another found herself caught up at a doctors appointment after tweaking her knee in tech. You roll on to Papermill to find out another girl is sick as well. All three absent ladies happen to be the three ladies that make up the second soprano section for the ensemble harmonies. You walk across the stage to see an irritated music director.
“Good morning ladies. Thank you for making it in today. As you can see, we’re down an entire section. Megan and Naomi, I’m going to need you two to cover the second soprano line. We will record alto and soprano together, stop, review the second soprano harmonies, and record the same section with you two adding the middle line. Are you both comfortable with that?”
“Of course! We’ll make it work!”
The high school choir nerd in you is geeking out. You’re putting your sight reading skills to the test! For the first time in your professional career, your sight reading comes in handy on the job. You begin singing the middle line of “Queen of the Night” and it flow effortlessly. You and Naomi power through each harmony without having to do more than two takes. The music director smiles. In that moment, everyone is relieved. The energy in the room brightens. Just as we prepare to record the second to last song, the woman that had her doctor appointment enters stage in time to record the last two songs.
“Ladies great job, and Naomi and Megan, thank you for doing double duty. Let’s bring the rest of the cast on stage for ‘How Will I Know’ and ‘Wanna Dance with Somebody.’”
After a successful recording, you’re changing into full costume for “Queen of the Night.” You’re starting the first stumble through with all aspects of the show incorporated. The choreographer, Karen, comes backstage, and lowers your skirt from your waist to your hips so you show off more of your “rocking bod.” She continues down the line of ladies. Your beaded crop top edged in gold grazes your ribcage, and the pad of black feathers on top of your straps lightly tickle your shoulders. To your right, the men are shirtless with black pants, black combat boots, and black and gold ties that run up their arms and around their shoulders. Karen turns to them to make sure each muscle is looking more defined than ever. Deborah struts up a ladder to the top of a platform in her 4 inch heels, black and gold leotard, and funky fo-hawk wig. Karen exits the stage to watch from the audience. Standing in your opening position with your head down, the sound effects echo through the space. The drums cue you to raise your head. Deborah turns her back to the men on the floor in front of her, and trust falls five and a half feet into their arms. Chills run up your spine. For the first time, this show feels alive.
Your first act is a whirlwind. From “Queen of the Night” you quick change into your rehearsal look for “How Will I Know.” The number ends, the sliders close, and you run offstage to change into your look for the “Edison Lounge” where the supporting actress sings a beautiful rendition of “Saving All My Love.” After a seductive stage date, you sneak away hand in hand with your scene partner to change for the “Mayan Club.” You jump off the club platform, and run off to change into your last look of Act One. You channel your inner drunk, college girl, and sing a comedic version of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” with two other ensemble ladies. You and your college buddies fan girl over the lead actress and are pulled out of the karaoke bar via sliding platforms as “I Have Nothing” plays on.
You change into your yellow, sequined dress for “I’m Every Woman.” Karen comes into the dressing room to look at all of the ladies. Karen, associate choreographer Amy, and the costume team ask you to come with them upstairs to talk about how they would like to alter the costume. You become their human mannequin. There’s a lot of deliberation. Karen needs more input.
“Megan, would you feel comfortable not wearing tights with this dress?”
“I personally have no issue with it, but I know some of the other ladies feel strongly about having tights. I would check in with them as well. What do you think of nude fishnet tights?”
“No, that’s not current. We’ll make something work.”
After finding some common ground, you rush downstairs to sing back up vocals off stage for the opening of Act Two’s “All the Man I Need.”
With only 15 minutes before salsa, you do a few exercises to engage the muscles that will prevent you from re-injuring your groin. Your partner greets you behind the sliders, and before you know it, he’s spinning you like a top downstage right. Pouring sweat, you salsa offstage and get some much needed downtime before the finale. Almost 45 minutes worth. There’s a lot more automation that goes into the end of the show. With having to call “hold” a few times throughout the dress rehearsal, there’s a good chance your downtime can extend.
You take advantage of the mostly empty theater, and watch the rest of Act Two from the audience. Some cast members, Amy, and a few others from the London team join you. Stage management held the show as predicted, so you and the London team teach other your dialects. You share your best Mary Poppins, while Amy performs her best Valley Girl. One of the guys from London asks to take a photo with you, and you start calling him "Sir" as if he’s been knighted. You all exchange social media info until some of the London team has to return to the dress rehearsal. Amy stays with you.
“Have you ever been interested in swinging a show, or being more involved in the choreography side of things? As a Dance Captain or Associate?”
“Yea! I was a swing on my first tour, so it would really depend on the show, but as far as being a dance captain or associate, that’s definitely a goal of mine.”
“Well, I think you’d be perfect for it one day.”
Hearing that boosts your confidence. You’re forming great relationships with cast and crew, despite the chaos of being pulled in so many directions. The team has thrown a lot at you, but it’s because they trust you. They know you can handle extra work, and do it with a smile on your face. You make your way backstage with a second wind of energy to perform through the finale. You groove your way upstage as the sliders close to end the show. On a new high, you return to your dressing room for your final change.
Driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, you receive a text. At the first red light, you glance at your screen. It’s from Sir. Little butterflies fill your stomach, but you’re not quite sure why. You barely know him. As you walk to your subway stop, you finally read his words. He wants to have dinner with you during the dinner break at tomorrow’s dress rehearsal. Your head spins with a new whirlwind of emotions. Knowing this date must to stay under wraps, you agree to a dinner. You don’t want to risk hurting the wonderful relationships you’ve formed with the rest of the creative team, but you also don’t want to miss out on what could be a wonderful evening in the midst of the being tossed around different areas of this production. This could be just what you need to unwind before you start previews of the show.