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What is it like to be a Broadway actor

Do you get bored after awhile doing the same thing every night or is every night like opening night?%0D %0D Are you in the moment or mentally doing your grocery list after a few weeks?%0D %0D Can you really feel the audience? Do you loath them after awhile?%0D %0D Are some nights of the week better than others? Like, Tuesday night sucks but Saturday night is always a thrill.%0D %0D What do you do for the rest of the day?

by Anonymousreply 6311/24/2012

If you are getting bored you have to do things to make sure you stay in the moment, there are many things you can do, to refresh yourself but if you are really doing your work and not checking out, you shouldn't get bored.

Personally, I like to love runs always have unless the working conditions are not great. Agents tend to think you should move on but I like to stay with something a long time.

You can really feel the audience, hear them etc., I don't loathe them except when they are talking or are creating a disturbance. Some actors do hate the audience if they aren't responding they way they think they ought, but that is bolllocks in my opinion.

Some nights tend to be more audibly responsive than others but that doesn't mean they are "better" I like Tuesday nights, Wed Nights and Friday nights best in general but there are always exceptions. We do 8 shows a week and most of the time it is 2 on Wed & Sat.

As to what is done during the day... on Wed and Sat not much but the show and maybe the gym in between but the rest of the week, Monday the day off, you do whatever you have to do to get ready for the week. Make sure the laundry is done etc, errands.

You can have auditions during the week that your agent has set up, sometimes jobs you probably can't take because of your contract with the play but you go anyway..

by Anonymousreply 104/16/2011

r1, but what do you do for fun? Or is working on the show supposed to be what you do for fun? Do you ever have time to read or just go out for dinner or drinks?

by Anonymousreply 204/16/2011

yes, time for all that & more once you are opening and running.. but everything kind of revolves around conserving your energy for the performance, so as you get older, the drinking stops or falls off, smoking goes..etc.

by Anonymousreply 304/16/2011

Do you hang out with the cast? Or can you not wait to get away from each other?

by Anonymousreply 404/16/2011

it depends on the circumstance sometimes yes and sometimes no. There are always people in the cast you get on with better than others, but it is really good policy to try to get along with everyone. I have a question for you: Are you planning to be an actor? is that why you have interest in the stuff most people don't think about?

by Anonymousreply 504/16/2011

Ha, no, no interest in being an actor. But I go to lots of shows and have been curious about an actor's life. I always think that doing a long run would be excruciatingly boring. All that repetition would make me nuts.

by Anonymousreply 604/16/2011

Wow this is really interesting. OP, I have always wondered the same things! I am a computer dork who loves musical theater. MARY!!

R1, I have some more questions. Is a play more exhausting or a musical? Most musicals just seem exhausting to me.

How do singers not hurt their voices by singing their hearts 8 shows a week? Do some people lose their voice?

Do you rehearse during the day once the show is up and running? or do you just show up at 5 and leave after the show is over?

What are the typical hours?

Are there a lot of love affairs that go on behind the scenes? Is it like a soap opera with all these dramatic people having relationships?

Thanks so much in advance for answering!

by Anonymousreply 704/16/2011

R7, the answer to every one of your questions is "it depends."

by Anonymousreply 804/16/2011

It's been over 20 years since I worked a Production contract (Broadway), but I can't say I enjoyed it.

It was a long run -- 18 months -- and that's a challenge. Keeping a show fresh after that long a time is hard to do.

I didn't like the lifestyle much either. I got into a habit of having dinner after the show. So I wasn't going to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. I'd wake up at 11 or noon. That's not a schedule I like very much.

The cast almost never socialized together. Occasionally I'd have dinner between matinee and evening with the guy I shared a dressing room with, but more often than not, I'd be on my own.

You have to get there at half hour -- a half hour before curtain. I'd usually get there a little earlier to warm up and chat with the stage managers.

The star of the show demanded that the stage be kept very cold -- AC vents were piped in directly over the stage. It was a friggin icebox.

I've been happier working in TV and movies, but I'd go back to NY for a limited run. But never again 18 months. That's just too long to do the same thing. For me, anyway.

And Saturday evening audiences were the worst, in my experience.

by Anonymousreply 904/16/2011

agree with the answer to many questions is "it depends".%0D %0D while the job is different than being a secretary or a construction worker or a plumber or whatever, the daily life of an actor is like yours... sleep. eat. family stuff. chores.%0D %0D the only significant difference is staying on the alert for more work since a show will close. but in today's economy, no worker is really safe from company closing or being laid off.

by Anonymousreply 1004/16/2011

I would think it's like any other job. Do you socialize with your workmates?

by Anonymousreply 1104/16/2011

r9, why were Saturday night audiences the worst? Were they mainly drunk?

by Anonymousreply 1204/16/2011

they are mostly fraufish from Jersey, R12

by Anonymousreply 1304/16/2011

OP here. I was watching On Stage this morning and some of the questions I always wondered about when at the theater occurred to me, so I figured I see what DLers came up with.%0D %0D Thanks for all the information. It's fascinating.%0D %0D Do you ever get stage fright? Do you actually feel as if the play is real, as if you are in that time and place? Does it ever feel surreal? One minute your walking on the street and 30 minutes later your on a stage. How do actors with a lot of dialogue remember all the lines?

by Anonymousreply 1404/16/2011

" How do actors with a lot of dialogue remember all the lines?"

Shh. It's magic.

by Anonymousreply 1504/16/2011

Did you ever hook up with any Stage Door Johnnies?

by Anonymousreply 1604/16/2011

If you are Stanley Tucci, were you able to actually hear my heart race when you exposed your delicious hairy ass crack in Frankie & Johnny?

by Anonymousreply 1704/16/2011

[quote]Do you ever get stage fright? Do you actually feel as if the play is real, as if you are in that time and place? Does it ever feel surreal? One minute your walking on the street and 30 minutes later your on a stage. How do actors with a lot of dialogue remember all the lines?

Yes, I do. Always before my first entrance, every time, no matter what.

No, I haven't had that experience. As a professional, one must separate. What the audience gets and sees and feels and what we actually do are almost two entirely different things. I've found if it's too "real" in theater on stage it becomes masturbatory for the performer and the actors lose the audience. It's finding a fine balance between what seems real to the audience but what allows us to do our jobs without killing ourselves psychologically. That can be a difficult thing to find in rehearsal, and sometimes it never happens and the production is a failure as a result. The audience has to be allowed a certain amount of projection in order to have the deepest emotional connection to the actor and the piece, and that requires (at least in my experience) an actor to be somewhat of a blank slate while still doing everything that acting requires. You'll see this "blank-slatedness" a lot more in film than in theater. Frequently the most successful film actors do almost nothing in front of the camera, they seem virtually expressionless. They do very little. The audience is allowed to project what they think the actor SHOULD be feeling in the situation. The simple fact of the matter is, no one in the audience has any real clue about what is actually going on with the actor. The actor could be thinking about their dead dog to motivate tears, or biting their tongue to bring up pain (those are just tricks, of course, but they're used.)

Does it feel surreal? To me, yes. Frequently I think, "What the hell am I doing up here in wig, costume, make up, making up these fictional people and singing" or whatever, as well as, "What the fuck are those people doing out there and why did they pay money for this?" I've had moments where I've been in the midst of a long scene on stage and thought "It doesn't get any more bizarre than this." All of my colleagues have expressed that to a certain extent. Taking bows and having people screaming and cheering for you and then walking out the stage door with no one recognizing you immediately because you've been so heavily made up or whatever is extremely weird. Getting into a car and going home after a performance is strange. But, it's all part of the job and becomes easier as you get further along and older.

Lines and music are easy. For me it was natural talent, for others It comes with training and practice. I've always learned easily, and it's only become easier over the course of the almost three decades I've been doing this. No, I'm not THAT old. I've been working professionally since I was a child.

by Anonymousreply 1804/16/2011

R18, that was all really fascinating. Thanks very much. I never sensed or thought about the expressionless thing and the audience's need to project. %0D %0D Theater, dance, concerts is where magic happens. Speaking for one who is not in it, I am intrigued how performance artists live and think.%0D %0D Feel free to say more. Thanks again

by Anonymousreply 1904/16/2011

When you and your colleagues wear flip-flops to the theatre, is it an exhibitionist move designed to turn the fans on when you exit the stage door?

by Anonymousreply 2004/16/2011

R18 what plays have you been in? Can you name one?

by Anonymousreply 2104/16/2011

R9 here again...

Stage fright. Oh, gosh, yes. Just before my first entrance before my first Broadway audience, I was out of my mind nervous. Heart pounding, speaking with a tremor... terrifying. But as soon as I was onstage and got a laugh, it was easy.

And no, acting is not psychosis. You know that you're on a stage in front of an audience. What you're doing is real-ish. But only -ish. I've always defined acting as 'believing what you know to be false and denying what you know to be true.' Impossible job, but sometimes it sorta works.

Memorizing lines. Eh, it's really not an issue. It just happens. There's no special skill. The scary thing about a long run, is that I found myself forgetting lines after being in the show over a year. THAT was terrifying. One of the reasons I quit doing theater actually.

Why are Saturday evening crowds so bad, in general? I think alcohol is part of it -- they're slow and stupid. And yes, they tend to be a little less sophisticated. That said, one of the best audiences I can remember for the production I was in, was a Saturday night.

by Anonymousreply 2204/16/2011

It's not the acting which worries me so much as the falling objects, snapped cables, terrible score, horrible direction, shoddy set construction and serious injuries to my fellow actors.

Who has time to worry about acting when you're just afraid you might not make it through the performance?

by Anonymousreply 2304/16/2011

Hi-diddley-dee, the actor's life for me!%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 2404/16/2011

An actor's job is repetitive? Well, so is nearly every other job in the world. Besides, after a long run, an actor may get another role that is different from his previous role, while most other jobs rarely change.%0D %0D You know what's boring? Unemployment.

by Anonymousreply 2504/16/2011

R20, ha re: flip-flops. They may claim that flip-flops are simply more comfortable to wear than anything else but it really is a form of exhibitionism and narcissism. Also a heads-up that they're sluts and can be had for an entree at Orso.

by Anonymousreply 2604/16/2011

more info please, it's fascinating. is it very competitive backstage when people know that better, ie star parts are opening up?

if you're in a long run, do you ever have to re-audition for your role? just to make sure that you're still good?

other than the travel, is there much of a difference backstage between a Broadway show and touring company?

by Anonymousreply 2704/17/2011


by Anonymousreply 2804/18/2011

I'm writing a Broadway musical based on the life of my pussy. I want Miss Piggy to star in it.

by Anonymousreply 2904/18/2011

Question; Put in rehearsals are usually done with the stage manager, correct? How difficult is it for that person to go on for the first time. Is there every any rehearsals with the cast and the new replacements?%0D Thank you for your participation here. I find this thread fascinating too.%0D I'm not an actor but I have friends who work on Broadway (many apprenticed thru Music Theatre of Wichita. I try to attend as much theatre as I can here in KC and in NYC.

by Anonymousreply 3004/19/2011

I'm not sure what you are referring to, r27? Not in my experience. Are you talking about swings or chorus being elevated to larger roles? Every business is competitive, just like acting and singingr. There's always someone on your heels. No one really pays attention to that stuff once you reach a certain level. Sure, it's there in the back of your mind, but backstage is generally not like "All About Eve" even in the worst situations. Yes, drama does happen, but as I said before, my general experience has been once you are a professional there is an effort to maintain a professional demeanor.

I, personally, would NEVER re-audition for anything, and would leave a company if asked. I gather that did happen once a while ago when Mackintosh came in and tried to retool Les Miz at one point, and it wildly backfired, with the audience, PR, the company, and the union. I haven't heard of that happening in any other circumstance.

The travel of a touring company is exhausting, even with long sit down periods. More conserving of energy is required so things (in my experience again) are quieter. The difference backstage is the level of talent, that's pretty much it.

[quote] Put in rehearsals are usually done with the stage manager, correct? How difficult is it for that person to go on for the first time. Is there every any rehearsals with the cast and the new replacements?

It depends on the level or star quality of the actor/singer being put in. If they are big, they'll get time with the cast. If they aren't, they'll get minimal time with swings. It can be with the SM, AD, or original director depending on time frame and interest. It's not that hard, and if the cast is good they help you through it. You won't get any time with orchestra, and very little time with stage. Props generally, some costume and wig/makeup if it's needed. I've been dropped into a show cold with nothing but some prop rehearsal and a dry run with a half hour meeting before open with conductor and supers running around me and no cast members whatsoever. It was nerve wracking but kind of fun.

by Anonymousreply 3104/19/2011

Thanks R31. Great thread!

by Anonymousreply 3204/19/2011

It's hell because I know I really should be on a television series or making movies. Just biding time here in a show that I hate but the audience loves. Go figure.

by Anonymousreply 3304/19/2011

OP here. I'm loving this thread. Thanks for all the explanations. As much as people has said it is like any other job, it is and it isn't. You'll get the same people bullshit, but most people don't live like this.%0D %0D I guess that is the crux of my original question. Actors make magic for a few hours every day, most people don't, so I guess that is why I am curious about it all.%0D %0D What happens between auditions and opening night? When are you officially on the payroll and how much rehearsal time are you expected to put it. What are you paid for? Why are you an actor in the first place? Did you know all along that you wanted to be? Did you knew you had something, a voice, a thing early on? Were you encouraged by your family? How did you get into it?%0D %0D Sorry, I know I'm asking a lot of questions. I just find it fascinating and I've never had the chance to ask actors before.

by Anonymousreply 3404/19/2011

ohhhh it's fabulous! the roar of the greasepaint! the smell of the crowds! the adulation mixed with working diligently at my chosen craft!

by Anonymousreply 3504/19/2011

I get drunk and find some pathetic stage door johnny to lift my stomach folds and suck my flaccid weiner.

by Anonymousreply 3604/19/2011

There's only one way to explain what it's like, OP:

by Anonymousreply 3704/19/2011

R35, R36 and R37 angry guys not from New York.%0D %0D Even more, when you need to attack someone for simplu asking questions, that is fucked up. %0D %0D The thing that makes us human, among other things, is our curiosity. Man, you guys are fucked up.%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 3804/19/2011

[quote]There's only one way to explain what it's like, OP:%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 3904/19/2011

I went out on a few dates with someone who was in a long running family-friendly popular musical. He once said that most of the cast was high off of pot during performances.

I always sort of wondered about how true that was or even how possible that was. When I smoke, I get tired and veg out, I couldn't imagine singing and dancing. Any thoughts on whether he was lying?

by Anonymousreply 4004/19/2011

Here's what I always wondered.

When a character goes to sleep in a show, do they actually go to sleep? I just saw a show where someone laid down and went to sleep during a scene and then ten minutes later "woke up." I wondered how they did it. I would fall asleep and would not be able to wake up gracefully on cue or I'd go crazy laying there still.

Maybe this is why I'm not an actor.

by Anonymousreply 4104/19/2011

And how is it they laugh on cue? Do they think of something funny? If so, how do they stop when they should stop?

by Anonymousreply 4204/19/2011

Years ago I was on vacation in Disney World (I know you can't compare it to Broadway) and found myself in the Magic Kingdom at the same time of day twice in the same week and saw the the same parade/show passing through. All the actors were singing the same songs with the same inflection and body movements, etc. It was great the first time. But after seeing a repeat carbon copy performance, the magic was gone. It became quite creepy to me, like the movie Groundhog Day. All I could think was, I can barely stand to watch this thing twice, how can the performers actually DO it over and over?

by Anonymousreply 4304/20/2011

How dare you (r38) attack my heartfelt response at r35. DO YOU KNOW WHO THE HELL I AM????%0D %0D %0D (and quit the naive, gee-whiz, Eve Harrington act op) %0D %0D %0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 4404/20/2011

What is the preview process like? Have any of you ever been a show that went through many changes during rehearsal/previews?

by Anonymousreply 4504/20/2011

[quote]There's only one way to explain what it's like, OP:

by Anonymousreply 4604/20/2011

I am r41 and r42's long lost relative. Here is my question:

Actors always say that their body is their instrument. Could you describe how you learned how to "play" this instrument? Or were you always able to make your body physicalize emotion on cue and that's part of why you became an actor? Any insight on this topic is appreciated.

by Anonymousreply 4704/20/2011

A more practical question: Have you ever accidently sneezed while on stage? After all the performances I've attended, I've never seen someone sneeze.%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 4804/20/2011

Broadway baby bump! Please come back to answer questions.

by Anonymousreply 4904/23/2011

I love this thread. If I was an actor I'd definitely want to be a theatre actor for the immediate response of the audience. From what I know of TV and movie acting, it's very disjointed - scenes are filmed out of sequence, retakes, reshots and editing, etc.%0D %0D I love when you can tell actors are having a ball on stage!

by Anonymousreply 5004/23/2011

When I leave a theatre after a seeing a play, I usually see scores of people waiting for autographs. How do actors, in general, feel about that? Do they hate it, or are they just glad someone liked the show?

by Anonymousreply 5104/23/2011

Thank you,OP for providing a forum for deluded theater queens who can pretend that they actually appeared in a Broadway show. It's better than anti-depressants for them.

by Anonymousreply 5204/23/2011

This is for R48. I have been an actor for many, many years, and done hundreds of plays and musicals. I have had terrible allergies since I was born, and sneeze for a long time every morning when I wake up. But the people I play on stage don't have allergies, and in all these years I have only sneezed once on stage. It came out of nowhere, was really huge, and startled the rest of the cast even more than me. So, there is a part of our brain that can put afflictions like sneezing, sciatica, headaches, nausea, painful joints, etc., on hold. At least, while the curtain is up!

by Anonymousreply 5304/23/2011

Can the actors take a day off if they need to and have someone fill in?

like could they go on like a mini vacation?

by Anonymousreply 5405/05/2011

And they can have a lot of fun doing charity work. - - -like - - -Broadway bares!

by Anonymousreply 5505/07/2011

Is there a Broadway casting couch?

by Anonymousreply 5605/07/2011

corollary to r48's question - have you ever gotten the hiccups on stage?

by Anonymousreply 5705/07/2011

Phylicia Rashad states it best in this clip from when she was about to star in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

by Anonymousreply 5805/07/2011

If I were an actor in musicals I think I'd have a spontaneous, hands-free orgasm during the sitzprobe.

by Anonymousreply 5905/07/2011

to R41: when a scene calls for sleeping onstage, the adrenaline is more than enough to keep you awake, even in your 100th show. sometimes when i was supposed to be sleeping during a show i started daydreaming and once i even forgot i was onstage and almost forgot my cue. but its easy not to fall asleep, you just have to keep reminding yourself to focus on the lines and remember when you need to wake up.

to R42: it's not hard to fake a laugh, a scene rarely calls for a single character to have to, and to make it sound genuine. but if you do have to laugh, you probably shouldn't use your laugh you use when something funny happens in real life, because that can sometimes even take the audience out of the story, depending on your laugh. just try to fake laugh, i'm sure you can do it! :)

by Anonymousreply 6009/16/2012

This is really interesting. I'm a journalist/student but have always been interested in acting. I just did a very small short indie film and I think I just got cast in a play, a student production at the school I'm going to right now (if the school is in NYC can I say I'm making my off broadway debut? LOL).

The directors I've worked with tell me I have a gift but at my age (30) I'm just not gonna pursue this full time. I'm perfectly happy doing the occasional play and short film to fulfill that creative drive in me.

The play is a real gritty piece about addiction, and I'm really excited to dig in and explore and attempt to create something real.

by Anonymousreply 6109/16/2012

Wow, what a difference 10 weeks makes.

r61 was me. I got cast in that play, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I decided to put off J school to study theatre. It's what I always wanted to do anyway and I guess I was lying to myself before, but after doing this play I can't anymore.

Even if I fail, so what? At least I can say I tried, which is more than most people can say about pursuing their real dreams.

by Anonymousreply 6211/24/2012

I'm glad for you, R61. I hope you find both success and adventure.

by Anonymousreply 6311/24/2012
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