Have you ever taken a flamenco class? Me neither. Though I'm guessing the difference between you and I is that I have to be performing flamenco-inspired movement on a Broadway stage in a few weeks. The mere thought of that is enough for me to need a Bromo-Seltzer. See, I'm a cast member in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a new musical based on the 1988 hit film by Pedro Almodóvar, directed by Tony Award-winner Bart Sher, with music by David Yazbek, book by Jeffrey Lane, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli. This production is Broadway's version of old MGM, with "more stars than are in the heavens." It stars Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Benanti, Justin Guarini, Danny Burstein, De'Adre Aziza, Mary Beth Peil, and Patti LuPone. Patti f---ing LuPone, people!
When I heard they were making a musical version of Women on the Verge, I nearly flipped my wig. I had to be a part of this production. After numerous auditions, I heard calls started going out letting people know they had booked the show. I waited by the phone for my agent to call, like Vikki Carr singing “It Must Be Him.” One day passed, no phone call. Three days passed, crickets. One week passed ... well, you get the picture. Either I didn't book the show or, as with Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, my invitation got lost in the mail. It's no secret that the business of show is a difficult one. Hearing "no" never really gets any easier. When that phone call finally did come (albeit a little later than my delicate nerves would have liked), to quote Ms. LuPone, I was "rainbow high." I did it! I got a Broadway show! I had entered a wonderful fraternity of people who had made their dreams come true.
In this show I am the dance captain and swing. The dance captain is a member of the company who maintains the artistic standards of all choreography and/or musical staging in a production. Once the choreographer leaves, it's my job to make sure the dance in the show remains the best it can be. Now, I'm pretty sure that I won't be telling Sheri Rene Scott that her "box step" needs work or Brian Stokes Mitchell that his "jazz hands" aren't up to par (please note, however, as of now there are no box steps or jazz hands in this production).
A swing is an ensemble performer who learns and covers more than one track (or role) in the production. Basically an understudy who knows multiple roles and can go on at a moment's notice if another performer can't go on. Now, I'm sure I'll be more than happy being in the wings during the two shows we have scheduled for Christmas Day (Bah! Humbug!) but in rehearsals, when I see the amazing choreography Chris Gattelli has creating, I'm champing at the bit to get up and dance. Don't you worry, though, this ain't my first time at the rodeo. I'll be WOTV's very own Eve Harrington. Ever see the movie Showgirls? I have a big bag of marbles with a couple of these bitches' names on it. Kidding. Yes, that’s right ... kidding.
Opening a show is an extremely exciting
process. Rehearsals thus far have been such a learning experience. To
watch people at the top of their game work, well, it's a "pinch me
moment." Over the next few weeks, we will finish rehearsals, go into
the Belasco Theatre to start tech, begin previews, and then we open.
Travel with me as we go on a journey to opening night on Broadway. Come
with me to the Verge!
For more information on Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, click here.