by Matt Meigs
I was flailing in a rehearsal studio in Boston. This was the choreography. But I wasn’t flailing correctly. I had just joined the national tour of Wicked - a true childhood dream! And per usual, my first week of rehearsal was spent terrified they had chosen the wrong person and I’d never get it right. It’s my extremely healthy process when joining shows.
There are many funny moments or silly trivia I could give you about all my experiences. However, I believe most fervently that the most powerful tool in every actor’s toolbox is simple: Risk.
Joining Wicked was an exciting step in my life. I always aim for my next job to move my career forward, and this fit perfectly into my plan. My ideal career is constantly growing and changing. That’s my own long-term goal. Each step takes me closer.
I joined this tour with the express intention of spending one incredible year on the road. A dozen months and then back to the city of dreams to keep developing my career. I kept this to myself but was honest if asked point-blank. As my last date neared, I was given bountiful unsolicited opinions, advice, or pained expressions by extended family, actors in New York, and people on the road. Income in a touring production is so high, you only find yourself in a long-running show very rarely, and many stories of people who left and didn’t work for AGES (who I’m sure would disagree with these characterizations).
Let me be clear: staying in one show for a long time might be exactly the right choice for you. But this choice is dictated by your long-term goals. A wise actor once told me: “Take a job only if it provides you with at least two of these three - it helps your career, it helps your wallet, it artistically excites you.” I would only add that you should ask yourself that periodically.
I don’t have children or huge debts, so my goals aren’t constrained by these. I decided to leave because I needed to get back to my boyfriend (v important for my heart), get back to my city (v important for my soul), and get back to my next career step (v important for my creativity and my future). Auditioning on the road is nigh impossible. Videotaping auditions is the bane of my existence. I thrive in an actual audition setting. I love touring, but my whole life is in NYC. A lot of our choices are made from fear. Make your choices from a place of confidence and focus.
One day after I returned from tour, I booked Carousel on Broadway. It then closed nine weeks later. In our closing weekend, I booked Wicked on Broadway to start immediately.
This story can be viewed as extremely fortuitous. It is. But none of it would have happened if I hadn’t taken the risk and made my decision. If you want something, you have to give it the space to happen.
Let go of that fear, and attack your life with a pure focus on what you want and a clear picture of your own risk threshold. Don’t let others sway your focus, including me. They have their goals, and you have yours.