Friend of the podcast Jonalyn Saxer (Holiday Inn, Cats) shares what happened after she achieved the goal of being on Broadway for a full year.
It is a crazy thing achieving your dreams. Being on Broadway is something I wanted from the time I knew what Broadway was. Sometimes I feel like I’m telling people I’m an astronaut when I say I’m a Broadway performer, it just seemed almost unachievable for so much of your life. And then it happens. You get the call and all of your dreams come true. And then you ask, what now?
Every performer on Broadway works so consistently because they are always reaching for something. I always knew that I wanted to start my career as a swing on Broadway. But after I booked my first Broadway show as a swing, I started to realize all of the things I wanted to achieve in my career in more detail. You may think “that’s because you want to be a lead role, or in the onstage ensemble, right.” But actually, no. My goals are much more specific, different, and constantly changing.
My dream was to be on Broadway, and then I booked Bullets Over Broadway as a swing, but the show closed shortly after I joined. I booked my second Broadway show, Honeymoon In Vegas, achieving another goal; to be a member of an original Broadway cast. And that’s when I realized I wanted to be a member of the onstage ensemble of an original Broadway cast. I achieved that goal in Holiday Inn. And I realized more goals of mine; to be in the ensemble and cover a lead, to be a dance captain, to be a part of a show from it’s very first lab, to leave a show before it closes, and to be in a show that I don’t ever have to worry about it closing. Recently I reached a milestone in my career. I have been working on Broadway for a full year. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the most luck with being a part of a long running shows. The year was comprised of two different shows, Holiday Inn and Cats. These experiences made me set a new goal: to be in one show for an entire year.
New goals arise in every new job you take. You think “wow, this experience was amazing, but what if…” For me, those goals are anything from “next time I want to cover,” to “the next show I do, I want it to be a heavy dance track” to “I want to be one character for a whole show.”
It is so important to continue to set goals for yourself. Otherwise, why do you still audition? How do you keep your career moving forward? How do you keep your life moving forward? When you achieve the biggest dream in life, where do you go from there?
Everyone in the business has this mindset. We’re artists. We’re almost never satisfied. But that’s usually a good thing. Each new job I’ve had has just showed me more and more what I want. It’s as if every time I book a show, I’m achieving another goal of mine, but then I realize another goal to work towards.
I think all of these things are what keep us going in this crazy business. I can guarantee you that any person who has multiple Broadway credits under their belt always has a new goal they’re reaching towards and/or just freakin’ loves being on Broadway. I was once afraid I was going to move backwards. Just like I had told myself that I wanted to be in a show for a whole year, I had told myself that I didn’t want to swing again. But it seemed like any show I auditioned for always asked the same question as we went into final callbacks, “Would Jonalyn be willing to consider a swing position?” I started to get worried. If I say no, does that mean I don’t have a chance of booking this awesome new show? So I asked my friend and castmate Jen Foote, “You’ve been in so many Broadway shows, as both a swing and an onstage ensemble member. Does being a swing hurt your chances of being onstage? Do you like it? Do you want to do other things?” And her response was the most inspiring and eye-opening thing in the world. “I’ll do anything if it’s on Broadway.” And she is right. Even though I set new goals for myself to reach constantly, my dream is to be on Broadway. Fortunately, and unfortunately, even when you get on Broadway, you don’t always stay there forever. Shows close and new shows are always coming in, so you have to keep reaching for your dream. It always comes back to that initial want and goal, to be a performer on Broadway.
I personally feel that Todd Buonopane puts it in the best and most succinct way in his podcast, Broadway Stories. He says, “We have to dream our Broadway dreams more specifically. You want to be in a show that runs, that people like, that you like, with people you like.”