by Synthia Link
There is nothing more exciting than putting up a brand new Broadway show. As an actor, being a part of the creation and development of a new piece is something incredibly special. As an original cast member of Frozen on Broadway, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to the process. When you get this sort of opportunity, its not only exhilarating, but also exhausting. You’re in rehearsal six days a week 10-6, you’re on your feet all day, and your brain is going a mile a minute trying to absorb songs, lyrics, choreography and blocking. Just thinking about it makes me tired!
When you put your body under that much stress (good stress is stress too) it is crucial to practice self care in order to perform your very best at work! During this process, I was incredibly diligent about taking care of myself in order to stay strong, present, healthy, and happy! Whether you are rehearsing for your school play, auditioning day in and day out, or creating a mega musical on Broadway, it is crucial to develop a routine that enables you to be the best you can be!
Tip One: SLEEP
We all know how amazing we feel after a good nights sleep. When under a strenuous schedule, sleeping is literally the most important thing you can do for your body. Personally, I find when I’m putting my body under a great deal of stress, I need at least 7-8 hours a night. I know it can be difficult to shut your brain down when it’s time to get some shut eye, but simply putting yourself to bed will enable your body and mind to recover from the intense days you’re enduring! While you’re sleeping, your muscles repair, your hormones rebalance, and you are able to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on another day. When you are lacking sleep, your body has a more difficult time executing choreography, your brain is just a little bit slower, and you are more susceptible to getting sick! I cannot stress enough that if you are going to commit to one thing, commit to getting enough sleep!
Tip 2: Exercise
When I mention this one, people often times look at me like I’m a crazy person. “How can you possibly rehearse all day and take a fitness class on top of it?!” I admit, this one isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s crucial. In Frozen, I do a lot of partner work, high intensity choreography, all while singing high soprano! I truly had to condition my body and work up to the demands of the show. I find it rejuvenating to not only get my body moving before rehearsal, but also to move it in a different way from the choreography of the show. Personally, I love barre classes and jumping rope! (Check out Physique57, and The Rope at Bandier Studio B). Find what you enjoy and works for your body.
Tip 3: Meal Prep
When you’re on a super busy schedule, healthy eating often goes out the window. You reach for whatever is most convenient without thinking about the nutrients your body truly needs to fuel your day. I’ve found meal prepping to be a life (and MONEY) saver! On my day off, I often roast a few pans of veggies, spaghetti squash, cook some salmon (or other fish), and make a big pot of soup! This way, I can simply pull from the stash I have in my fridge. This not only saves me a ton of time, but enables me to know exactly what I am putting into my body. I’ve also noticed that my credit card bill has gone down! Think about how often you spend 15$ for a salad (SO EXPENSIVE!) You’ll save money, time, and will know that you are feeding your body healthy and nutritious food. It’s a win win!
Tip 4: Meditation
This is one I just recently discovered, but is truly changing my life. During a rehearsal process our bodies and minds are dealing with an incredible amount of stress! We don’t always recognize this stress, but it is absolutely manifesting inside us. When we are overly stressed, we see negative symptoms that effect our moods, digestion, focus, emotions (ever cry for no apparent reason?!) and overall happiness. Meditation forces you to take just a few minutes of your day (I usually do 10-20 daily) to actively relax and reset your mind any body. You finish feeling calm, focused and noticeably less STRESSED! Download one of the many free apps on your phone and give it a try.
Tip 5: ME time
This is my absolute favorite part of getting through a strenuous rehearsal process. It is crucial to take some time (whether it’s a few hours or an entire day) and do things you enjoy that are unrelated to your show. That could mean going to a spa, reading a book, baking your favorite cookies, getting a full body massage, or simply taking the day to Netflix and chill. It’s easy to become totally absorbed in whatever show you are rehearsing for. By reserving “ME time” you are reminding yourself that although your job is your passion, you are more than that. You are a person with lots of depth and varied interests. This sort of self care is so important. It’s taking time to enjoy yourself on a different level, so that when you return to rehearsal, you are able to appreciate the opportunity you’ve been given, and perform at your peak!
We are incredibly lucky to work in an industry that we love. To an outsider, being a performer is incredibly glamorous, but we all know how strenuous it is to do what we do! Auditioning, rehearsing and performing a show, regardless of where it is, is incredibly exciting, strenuous, exhausting and rewarding! It is crucial that we take care of our bodies and minds so that we can not only be strong performers, but to be the best version of ourselves.