by Sam Leicht
One of the great things our management on The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical’s national tour decided was that all the understudies would have a swing-in performance to really make sure we’re prepared. We are currently in Bethlehem, PA, where I had my put-in rehearsal for Percy this afternoon, and wow. I've been memorizing, and practicing fight choreo, and watching rehearsals for months, but nothing could fully prepare me for my put-in. Tons of little things went wrong and I'm glad. I learned so much about Percy from the mistakes, and that's what put-ins are for!
Two of the tracks have been swung in so far, and I'm excited to be the next! I'll be performing Percy on Saturday at the Kennedy Center in DC, and I'll let you know in next month’s post how it goes ;)
It almost seemed like a rule for understudies to be treated as second class citizens in college theatre, which kind of makes sense because the likelihood of a performer missing a performance on a ten show run is pretty slim. It definitely gave me an inaccurate perception of understudying professionally. The resources given to us—ample rehearsal time, swing-in performances, working with creatives—couldn’t be more generous. Everyone working on the show makes us feel like part of the team and it’s been a complete joy.
We're getting to the point in the tour where everything is clicking into place. I'm able to watch the show twice a week and run anything I need in the dressing rooms downstairs, and I feel confident that if James were to lose his voice or Chris were to puke onstage (this almost happened), I could pop into the show immediately.
The understudy nightmares have subsided, and I've been able to start pursuing another passion on the road.
I'm a personal trainer at a CrossFit gym in NYC and I wanted some way to stay motivated over the six months we'd be away. I created a blog—touringcrossfit.com—to journal about my experiences at all of the gyms I was going to be able to drop into across the country, and it has kind of blossomed into this amazing project that plays nicely with tour life. Writing has always made me uncomfortable and before the tour started I was hesitant about a blog being my means of tracking the journey. So, color me surprised to find that writing these posts has been super cathartic and fun. I'm able to stay busy and continue learning about fitness from the widest range of coaches, and I get to do this while on the road as an actor! Geez, it may sound cliché, but I really feel like the luckiest guy, and I don't plan on taking one day for granted.
I'm nervous as hell going into the show this weekend. I know I'm ready, but that little voice still likes to give a tug and ask, "Are you sure you're ready?"
Just like before my audition for The Lightning Thief, just like before I had my first personal training client, just like before my put-in, my response has and will be one of Percy's lines from the show: "Not at all. Let's go."
Check back next month for my next blog post on adapting workouts for the road! I'll go into detail on what equipment I travel with and how I get great workouts in even the shabbiest of hotel gyms. Stay tuned!