October 2014 has been one of the most unexpected months of my life. I’m spending the month in Chicago opening the World Premiere musical AMAZING GRACE. This is an epic and stirring musical about the lyricist to world famous hymn.
I’ve understudied in big flashy new musicals but I’ve never been a Swing before. It’s been a learning experience to be behind the table watching this incredibly talented creative team do their work.
The Associate Choreographer and I were pen pals in high school, but this is the first time we’ve worked together. However, this job has been filled with a lot more synchronicity than that.
I was allowed a personal day to attend my twin brother’s wedding in Houston on October 11th. It was a Saturday, and everyone at the show seemed to be healthy and fine to do both shows before I returned on our two show Sunday.
The wedding was fabulous! Bart married one of my best friends and his high school sweetheart Audrey! I was so grateful that I got to attend. The night of the wedding I got a message that a large bell, part of the set, fell on top of the head of our lead Josh Young. It seemed that he would be ok and back in the show for both performances on Sunday.
I arrived from my flight at around 8AM that morning, and went to the theatre to help, I am Assistant Dance Captain, in getting Josh’s show to go on. At around 1PM they mentioned to me that the matinee was cancelled, and that we were instead going to have a put-in rehearsal for the Understudy. Josh would certainly be back that evening. There are two of us that cover the role, but it seemed to be ME that was the easiest option as I have watched all of the rehearsals.
That afternoon we proceeded to do a run-through of the entire show onstage with set, lights, full company, and full orchestra. This was the first time I had ever been on the set, sang the score, or spoken the words in the scenes. After this four hour rehearsal they informed me that I would be doing the show in front of an audience that evening. My brain went into total survival mode! At first I was petrified, then I had to say to myself, “It’s just theatre! I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to do it.”
I proceeded to take one step at a time, and worked my way through the performance. I carried script pages in the scenes so that I wouldn’t waste any of the other actor’s time, and could keep the show moving. When we reached the pivotal moment at the end of the show where we sing Amazing Grace, I was filled with tears of gratitude. It was only through the Grace of God that I was able to set aside my ego, and get through that performance. The best part of the whole night was that the audience went WILD!
The next day I had to travel to Fort Lauderdale for a potential job interview, and didn’t even think about the show. I absolutely thought that Josh would return Tuesday night. Alas, he was not back and I got thrown back in as the lead role again. This time I was able to do the entire performance off-book! Again, it was a power beyond me that gave me the guts to do it. I give most of the credit to the amazing cast of 34 people who lifted me up throughout the night and gave me so much courage and support.
with ERIN MACKEY
Since then, I have done two more performances, and Josh was able to get healthy and return for Opening Night. I am so grateful for this experience as it has taught me a lot about courage, being of service, and commitment. Always be ready and willing as you never know what the universe may bring.
Let’s hope that the show now gets it’s legs on Broadway because I can’t wait to see what more experiences may be on the way!