I wake up every day at 7am. I eat breakfast, feed the dogs, pack my lunch, walk to the train, take the A Express to Manhattan, enter Pearl Studios, buy some tea, and rehearse from 10am-6pm. I then walk to the train, take the A Express to Brooklyn, eat my dinner, play with the dogs while I watch Project Runway, take a shower, work on my script, get in bed, and go to sleep. This is my life right now.
When I first arrived we (the nun ensemble) were thrown into what the production team dubbed “nun bootcamp.” As someone who ACTUALLY went to bootcamp, let me tell you, that is a fair name. In real bootcamp you are overwhelmed, physically exhausted, emotional, triumphant, and mentally drained. In NUN bootcamp you are overwhelmed, physically exhausted, emotional, triumphant, and mentally drained. I had no idea what I was getting into. Not only is this one of the hardest shows to sing that I’ve ever done, it is THE hardest choreography I’ve ever done. Hands Down. It isn’t technically difficult, there is just so much of it and we’re WAILING at the same time.
So the first couple of days were a little rough. First days are always rough, but more so when you’re in a new city, working on a high profile project, and being thrown right away into 6-hour choreography rehearsals. I have always had a phobia of dance. I don’t pick up sequence very well, I can’t hide my panic on my face, and there is nothing like being in a room surrounded by mirrors to let you know how far you’ve let yourself go. I was so lost those first couple of days, culminating in getting literally lost for 2 hours in not the best part of Brooklyn with a dead phone. I wanted to feel strong and I didn’t feel strong. I felt weak and unworthy.
And then my third day here, Molly Glynn died. And everything felt ridiculous and confusing and random and out of control. I had to figure out how to stop crying so that I could go to rehearsal. I didn’t know her that well, but enough that we would hug and catch up whenever we saw each other. I was always happy to see her. She was encouraging to me after she saw A Little Night Music at Peninsula Players at another time when I felt insecure and unworthy. So, she wasn’t my best friend, but she was always so nice to me. Losing her hurt. She was beautiful and talented and young and a mother. It just didn’t make any sense to me.
A few hours after that I found out about Bernie Yvon’s accident, and soon after that I learned that prior to these tragedies Chicago had lost two other actors: Sati Word and Trinity P. Murdock. So I learned all of this, spent a couple of sleepless nights crying, and then I got over myself. How dare I not be brave? How dare I not be happy? How dare I complain? I’m not only lucky to be doing something I’ve always dreamed of doing and lucky to make a living doing it. I’m lucky TO HAVE MY HEALTH. I’m lucky TO BE ALIVE. I’m lucky TO LOVE and I’m lucky TO BE LOVED.
I went back to the studio with a new attitude and new eyes. It’s okay to not be good at something. You just work harder. As if she could read my mind our choreographer gave us a speech. She said that we were all cast for different reasons. Not everyone in the show was cast for their dance skills. Everyone is going to learn at a different pace and that’s okay. She gave the speech to the room, but caught my eye for more than half of it. That simple, kind act gave me the permission to fail. It gave me the permission to not beat myself up about it.
I am having so much fun now, and I feel so good. I feel really proud of myself. My cast is lovely and the show is really good. I was worried about feeling artistically fulfilled in such a commercial production. I shouldn’t have worried. I am inspired by the work being done around me and I find myself enormously moved by this show and by my part in it. I am part of a group of women (nuns) who are so filled with light and joy and have never learned how to express those feelings. In the show they learn to express their joy. I can’t think of anything more moving than that. So I am honored to bring this joy to America. We still have a ways to go, but I can see how great this show is going to be already. And I will not take it for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. So I’m going to live today.