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My Professional Background - Once upon a time, I wanted to be a motivational speaker. Actually, I was a professional motivational speaker for about 5 years.:
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I forget myself sometimes.

It happens every time I attend a live theatre performance. Especially on Broadway.

I forget that I’m a wife. I forget that I’m a mother. I forget that I actually drive a minivan. I forget that I can’t move to New York and work in a restaurant the rest of my life as I try to “make it.” I forget that the only “character” I play lately is that of a mom blogger hopped up on coffee and Raisinets.

I forget.

And I get lost… I begin to picture myself on that stage. I picture what life would be like if I had been accepted to Juilliard at the ripe, old age of 17. I picture what it must be like to perform for 1,800 people eight times every week. I feel that rush of adrenaline as the curtain opens as if I’m right there on stage.

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And I feel the release as the curtain draws to close the performance.

Unlike most who attend live theatre, I don’t get lost in the music or the plot. I get lost in the story behind the story.

I wonder where the actors are from, how they get along with fellow cast members, and what they do between scenes. I wonder what they did when they found out they were cast and how their families feel about such a unique career. I wonder what they look like without all the wigs and makeup. I wonder if any of them long to be a wife, mother and stay-at-home mommy blogger who drives a minivan.

Okay, I don’t wonder that.

This past Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to have some of those burning questions answered at “Behind the Emerald Curtain.” This is an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Wicked and is run by two Wicked ensemble-members. For $30 per ticket, this is basically the cheapest thing we did in New York City—including church on Sunday.

Our guides for “Behind the Emerald Curtain” were so entertaining and both were fantastic speakers. (Acting and speaking are two very different skill-sets. I learned that the hard way.) One of our guides, Jerad Bortz, was fascinating to listen to during the tour, and it was so much fun to watch for him throughout the entire show that evening. I felt like a proud mama or something.

There’s our little Jerad! Quick, get a picture before the usher kicks us out.

Speaking of mamas, I’d like to tell you more about our other guide, Lindsay Northen. She is a Broadway mom in the making. She’s got the Broadway thing nailed and is working now on the growing a baby part.

She has basically had the same career and personal life as me…only in reverse.

Also, she has a whole lot more talent. And she’s actually on Broadway now. And I basically have no prospects.

But does she have her own, free YouTube channel? That’s what we need to ask ourselves.

Anyhow, this absolutely adorable woman is six months pregnant. Go ahead and hate her because you can’t even tell she’s expecting. Go ahead.

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Sickening, isn’t it? How many woman can actually zip up a hooded sweatshirt at six months pregnant?

Lindsay’s story is fascinating to me because I can’t imagine what it is like to work while pregnant—much less in a career that is so physically and emotionally demanding.

How much fun is morning sickness when you’re wearing 50 pounds of drapery fabric and six layers of stage makeup? I can only imagine.

I’m pretty sure I wore makeup half a dozen times during both pregnancies. Combined. And let’s not talk about how I pushed the limits of “stretch” yoga pants…

I could go on all day about the phenomenal show and the behind-the-scenes tour, but here are some of the things I found most fascinating:

– Costumes that can’t be laundered are cleaned with vodka and water. You won’t find that little tip on Pinterest.

– Actors can sign up for physical therapy sessions up to 3 times each week for 20 minutes at a time. This is most important since the stage floor is slanted and can cause a great deal of alignment issues over time.

– When Lindsay told her bosses she was pregnant, they were extremely supportive. They had her costumes let out (which as you can imagine creates a huge amount of work for lots of people) and allowed her to continue to perform until recently. She is still on staff, however, and will continue to perform after the baby is born.

– Nearly every actor in Wicked wears at least one wig or mask. And each wig (of human hair) is hand woven through lace and costs close to $2,000. The masks are formed specific to each actor, hand painted and then woven with hair strand by strand.

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– The hand-beaded and -embroidered costumes cost between $5,000 and $20,000 A PIECE.

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– Lindsay said that one of her costumes has such incredibly intricate bead work on the inside lining of the sleeve that it’s almost a shame it is on stage for such a short period of time!

– Due to the quick changes that take place, actors sometimes wear two costumes in addition to their “skins” or washable undergarments. And THAT is why they freeze you out of the theater. So now you know.

– While there isn’t a great deal of pressure to remain thin per se, actors are encouraged to remain EXACTLY the same size they were when fitted for costumes.

And here is the reason why:

Can you imagine how much work it would take to remake those costumes if an actor suddenly gained or dropped 10 pounds? I bet Thanksgiving is torture.

Honestly, that’s why I’m not an actress on Broadway. Because it would totally ruin Thanksgiving for me.

Yep. That’s pretty much the only reason.

– Both of our guides were understudies for principal actors (Fiyero and Glinda respectively), and they expressed the close-knit community they share with their Wicked colleagues. So, while they don’t necessarily wish for the lead actors to actually break a leg or contract bleeding esophageal varices, they do sometimes wish for them to get picked up for a pilot. You know, because they want their friends to be successful (wink, wink).

– There are more than 300 people on salary for the New York production alone. It takes a small army to keep this show running night after night.

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Both this tour and the show were the highlights of our weekend trip to New York City. The lights, the costumes, the orchestra, the audience…it all gave me that old, familiar feeling. The feeling that I’d like to give acting a shot. The feeling that I should sneak myself backstage and actually break some legs.

Toooooooootally kidding!

Pay no attention to the nutcase behind the curtain.

What is your dream job?

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Comments to "Behind the Curtain"

  1. imklvr

    April 17, 2013

    Hi.  Me again.  The stalkin’ Grani.  My dream job?  To help sew those costumes!  Yeah.  I sew.  Closest I’ve come to sewing for Broadway, was a lamb and a donkey costume for the church Christmas program.  My grandson was the lamb and adorable beyond words.  So yeah, you’ve opened my eyes to the REAL thing!  Thanks.  I think.

    • katyinacorner

      April 17, 2013

      imklvr Grani, I don’t consider it stalking. Let’s just say you’re having a conversation with me so I don’t feel like I spend all day talking to myself. 🙂 You and my mom would both LOVE to see those workrooms with all the fabrics and trims and sequins. I would go nuts with all that detail involved. But those seamstresses are truly artists!

  2. ChristyB

    April 17, 2013

    Ohhhh, now I want to go see it. (-;

  3. moody_marie

    April 17, 2013

    OMG…BEST.BLOGPOST.EVER! Wicked is in my top three favorite shows ever. You are SO lucky to have had the backstage experience! Seriously cool. Like, seriously.

    • katyinacorner

      April 17, 2013

      moody_marie I can’t believe the tour was only $30. SOOOOO worth the money because it made the show experience even better. I loved it! Wicked is definitely my favorite musical. Right up there with Les Mis.

  4. Monlh

    April 19, 2013

    We’re going to NYC in a few weeks.  WOW That looks like an amazing tour.  Not sure my kiddos would get $30 out of it, but I sure would.  I worked behind the scenes in theater during college and LOVED it.  Thanks for this blog.  It brought back lots of great memories and is making me so excited about our trip.

  5. NiamhByrne

    April 25, 2013

    Hey stranger! Really enjoyed this post. I think you could definitely make a link between blogging and acting as both guarantees you spend half of your time explaining to people what you do is a real thing and the other half that’s it’s worth doing. Oh and the money is about the same. Somehow I managed to weasel my way in to drama school this year which means in the future I can look forward to being poor professionally as opposed to just being poor poor. I would say that acting and family life are definitely strange bed fellows (late nights, long hours, unsteady income, away from home) but people do manage it.  And as for what happens behind the scenes…I could tell you some stories… it involves a golden egg, a panicked goose and a very angry man in a dress.

    • katyinacorner

      April 26, 2013

      NiamhByrne So excited for you and your acceptance to drama school!!! Long live poverty and beans on toast! 😉 Miss you, girl. Stay in touch!

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