As thrilling and exciting as it is to view a Broadway production, it is equally if not more thrilling to be a part of one. Being responsible for telling the story of a specific character gives the actor a chance to become someone else for a few hours each night. Michele Maika Berg, who has played Eponine in Les Miserables, describes the journey on Quora as both exhilarating and exhausting saying, “It is truly thrilling to take an audience on such an emotional journey like Les Mis does.” The Data Lounge contributor elaborated on the same subject by saying, “Frequently I think, “What am I doing up here in wig, costume, make up, making up these fictional people and singing” or whatever. I’ve had moments where I’ve been in the midst of a long scene on stage and thought “It doesn’t get any more bizarre than this.” All of my colleagues have expressed that to a certain extent.”
Just because the task of performing on Broadway is fun does not make it challenge free. Michele Maika Berg elaborated about her role in Les Miserables sharing, “[Singing] in eight shows a week is really grueling on the body and vocal cords. Because of this, you have to take care of yourself to keep healthy. Les Mis was 3.5 hrs of constant movement. Because of how tough it was on the body, before every day of rehearsal we did a workout together, part of the Les Mis “boot camp” they used to do when they opened a company for the first time anywhere.”
You may be interested to know that some Broadway actors get stage fright, even after they’ve been performing a certain role for an extended period of time. A contributor on The Data Lounge who preferred to remain anonymous stated, ” Yes I do [get stage fright]. Always before my first entrance, every time, no matter what.”
Acting in a Broadway show also requires a lot of focus and commitment. Joshua Engel describes it on Quora by saying, “When you’re on stage, you’re working, and you have to remain focused. If you zone out or succumb to boredom, something will go wrong, and then you’re in deep, deep trouble. For an actual Broadway show, it can even be dangerous: these are often massive numbers with a lot of moving parts and moving bodies, and if you’re not paying attention, somebody can get hurt.” Such focus is also needed for remembering lines, songs, and cues for entering or exiting. An anonymous poster on The Data Lounge elaborated on the matter sharing, “For me it was natural talent, for others it comes with training and practice.”
Some people wonder if playing the same role on Broadway each night can get mundane. Michele Maika Berg answers that question with this response, “As for playing the same role every night? As an actor, it is your job to make it “new” every time. You must be really mindful not to get into a boring rut and find ways to keep it fresh. For me, keeping it fresh had much to do with really listening to my fellow actors and reacting to them. It was always fun to go on with understudies because they really made it a new experience and it would keep me on my toes.” Joshua Engel adds, “If feasible, they’ll make small changes to their performances. It’s bad form to make big changes without talking about it first, but a very tiny tweak can wake everybody up.”
Ultimately, acting in a Broadway show is about the actor’s love of the stage and love of the role they are playing. It takes a skilled and steady individual to fully embrace and portray a character night after night for new audiences. When done whole-heartedly, audiences are graced with a performance that is moving, enchanting, and impressionable; a performance that will be remembered long after leaving the show.
Author: Diamond Grant