by Meghan Glogower
It’s no secret that being a female in musical theatre is not easy. We deal with an oversaturated market, fewer available contracts and a lot of men on the other side of the creative table. This, in turn, does not typically allow for the friendliest of environments when a group of women get together who are used to fighting tooth and nail against each other to get a job. However, when you have a majority female creative team choosing who they want to work with, they sure know how to pick the right ladies.
I am so grateful to JoAnn Hunter, our choreographer, for assembling this dynamic group of women for our ensemble in Ever After at the Alliance Theatre. It was clear from the beginning we were all going to not just get along, but we were going to lift each other up and support one another through this process.
I auditioned for Ever After back in September when I attended the Dance ECC. I’ve had the privilege of working with JoAnn back in 2012 when I did The Nutty Professor. I was thrilled to audition for this project because knowing she was attached, it had to be amazing. If you’ve ever auditioned for JoAnn Hunter, you know how infectious her energy is — she inspires you to bring out your best self. Her audition room is warm and inviting, but also challenging.
In this show, I play a slew of different characters, as one often does when in the ensemble. I span every sector of the class system in 16th Century France, from a peasant to a bohemian to a courtier. What I especially love about the ensemble work in this show is that Marcy Heisler (book writer and lyricist) has allowed for the women to showcase our individual personalities. One of my favorite numbers in the show is called “Isn’t That Funny” where we are all attending the tennis match of Prince Henry and are vying for his attention. What could have been another nameless/faceless ensemble number is a chance for us all to have a standout moment. Watching what each person brings to their character is a delight every night.
What makes this show so special for me is the relationship the female cast members have on and offstage. In our first few weeks of rehearsal, we decided to have a “ladies night” because we knew how important it was to set the right tone for each other. It was extremely important for us to have this bonding time to say, “We’ve got each other’s backs.” So we piled into one of our tiny hotel rooms and brought all the snacks, face masks, and sparkling rose we could fit into one evening and became instant friends.
We also faced challenges as a cast that tested our resilience and put this supportiveness to the test. During our final preview performance, one of our ladies in the ensemble sprained her ankle in the Masqued Ball number in Act II. Without missing a beat, everyone rose to the occasion. We alerted stage management, got her ice, ibuprofen, and water. With the help of our rockstar Dance Captain, Lindsay Moore, we reworked the bows so she didn’t have to run onstage. At the end of the show, we stayed by her side, helped her find a way home, and comforted her. We all knew how terrified she must feel, and our hearts broke for her knowing the next night was opening.
The following day we were called for an emergency put-in rehearsal for our swing. It was a magical experience watching our cast cheer her on and celebrate her flawless performance that night. We were even more thrilled that our injured cast mate was still able to perform her featured part as the Princess of Spain and was able to bow with us as part of the company. The truest testament to the power of women supporting women was her congratulating our swing with the most genuine excitement. And when I tell you she was the most gorgeous person at the party, I’m not kidding. Rocking a cane and everything.
It is a rare occurrence to be working on a show about feminist ideals, written by women, led by women (including our stage manager), and did I forget to mention I get to sword fight! It is a dream come true to be working with Zina Goldrich, Marcy Heisler, JoAnn Hunter, and Susan Booth. The female ensemble dressing room is my favorite place to be (when I’m not onstage). I am so grateful for this group of women who support me, make me laugh constantly, and challenge me in the best way possible.
My favorite pre-show ritual is something we recently started doing at half hour. We were gifted the card set Light Lessons by Sierra Boggess on opening night. We each draw an intentional word/phrase at the beginning of every show and share it with one another other. It focuses us and brings us together in a way that I hope for every female ensemble in the future.