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The Ensemblist is an inside look at the experience of being a Broadway performer- from the first rehearsal through performing eight shows a week and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced theatre professional or a passionate fan, The Ensemblist will give you the opportunity to get to know new performers and the great work they do onstage, while also shedding light on some of the hidden innerworkings of the Broadway experience. Created and hosted by Mo Brady (The Addams Family, SMASH) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Chicago, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), The Ensemblist is the only podcast that shows you Broadway from the inside out. 


My Two-Show Day Backstage

Mo Brady

by Lauralyn McClelland

Lauralyn McClelland

Lauralyn McClelland

Being a swing can be amazing.  It’s a great feeling when you know what you’re doing and you get to play different parts all the time!  However, in between those moments there can be a lot of down time. On those days I’m not being used, what do I do with myself? My Fair Lady is about two hours and fifty minutes. I’m in a basement. And those two show days are, well, long. Sure you can write notes, review tracks, trail actors backstage, watch the show, even enjoy the hell out of some snacks that always pop up in the green room.  

However, I’m so close to knowing this show. Already I’ve learned 11 of 12 ensemble tracks. Now, it’s hard to go over it again and again. It’s kind of like when you know you have homework to do and you start cleaning your room instead. Just me? Cool.

Here’s an example of my recent two show day:

Saturday Matinee

  1. Trail Hannah Florence

  2. Watch Cameron Adams’ maid sequences on the monitor during Hannah’s down time

Dinner Break

  1. Get outside and walk around during dinner break

  2. Eat Shake Shack….because why wouldn’t you?!

Lauralyn McClelland

Lauralyn McClelland

Saturday Evening

  1. Get organized to do some damage on notecards for Hannah’s track. I’ve got my pencil, my color coordinated notecards and a book ring to keep them on.  Im so ready and yet, so restless!

  2. PLACES - go visit with cast members in the hall as they wait for the orchestra to begin.  Dance and joke around because you have energy to do the show but no stage to use it up.

  3. Hobbit hole/aka swing room with a monitor and desk.  Fellow swing Brian Shepard visits with you for a bit.  Attempt to continue Hannah’s track notecards.

  4. You leave to get water, as you come back Brian is leaving.  Your eyes get wide and you shout “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”

  5. He suggests you go visit people during “shower chats” (pre-Eliza-needs-a-shower scene) and “maid chats” (pre-maids’ scenes) because clearly you need some human connection.

  6. Drink your water and write a notecard in the Hobbit Hole.

  7. Go Stage Right to visit with Higgins’ four maids

  8. They go onstage.

  9. You go to your dressing room and attempt to french braid your hair, which you’ve never been very good at, but you make it look decent after a few tries.

  10. Go to Stage Management for “maid chats,” maids comment on your new braids!

  11. They go onstage

  12. You go back to the Hobbit Hole and work on another notecard.

  13. Social media/trying to connect to the internet

  14. In need more human contact, you go to your dressing room and chat with your two roommates and dresser during intermission.

  15. They start Act II

  16. You watch the Waltz on the monitor and realize you haven’t been taught a section of Hannah’s waltz, so you can’t get through ALL the notecards!

  17. You find it’s harder to write notes in front of a monitor, the things you’re writing don’t always correspond with what’s happening onstage and you get distracted watching the show and enjoying it instead of studying it!

  18. Social media/trying to reconnect to the internet

  19. Another notecard and a half

  20. Twist your braids into buns

  21. Roam the halls

  22. Find snacks

  23. Taxidermy a lion

  24. Just making sure you’re still with me

  25. Watch “Get Me To The Church On Time”

  26. Once that number ends, I can head home (reason being, that is the last scene the ensemble women are in).

This is my fourth Broadway show as a swing, and each show has been a totally different experience.  What has thankfully been consistent is the rewarding experience of doing several tracks as if they were my own, and my genuine love of the people I get to work with. A great cast makes backstage life so much better, especially when you are only backstage some shows.  It is a necessary component in being a happy swing. So, thanks to my fellow cast mates for helping me through those two show days when I get a bit delirious!

Lauralyn McClelland

Lauralyn McClelland