NYC

Stuck in the Middle: What Performers Do in Between Shows on Two-Show Days

04.03.19

BY: LIZ DURAND STREISAND / ILLUSTRATION BY: CHELSEY HILL 

What could be harder than singing and dancing in front of a live audience for two-and-a-half hours straight? How about doing it twice in one day? Two-show days are no joke and the time in between the performances is not to be squandered. We caught up with some of the brightest stars on Broadway (and off-Broadway) to find out how they spend those precious afternoon hours in midtown.

Lilli Cooper: Julie Nichols in Tootsie

My between show routine can vary from cat-naps to outer borough adventures. Depending on the physicality of the show and whether or not I need to physically “reboot” my body; sometimes I need to check out completely by taking a 40-minute nap, watching Netflix and not speaking… [but] when the weather is nice I love to sit in the park or take a bike ride and soak up the sun since I’ll be in a dark theater for most of the day.

Evan Todd: Gerry Goffin in Beautiful

I need to preface this story by saying I NEVER do this, BUT, we have quite a big break between shows on Saturdays and my good friend was having a going-away party and moving to Amsterdam. So I ran down and bought a round of drinks to celebrate, thinking: “It’s cool. I’ve got two and a half hours before the show.” Then, he bought a round of drinks. Etc. Etc. Inner voice: “It’s cool. You’ve got an hour; you and Chilinia [who plays Carole King] have done the show a million times, you’re good.”

Cut to me checking my phone and seeing a slew of messages from the stage manager: “Chilinia is sick! Julia is going on! Can you get here to run some things before the half hour?” Side note: Julia had joined the Broadway cast that week. We had met ONCE in passing and never been on stage together. Innver voice: “NOT cool. Things are NOT cool!”

Let’s just say that I’ve never sobered up so fast. I jumped in a cab, rehearsed with Julia for a whole five minutes, and did the show: which was… incredible! I was sober. Repeat. I was sober. (I don’t want a phone call from Equity.) Julia was a pro and it was such an awesome exercise in listening and staying present: two actors who both know the words so well but have never rehearsed. You don’t know what’s going to happen next and it’s exhilarating. So lesson learned: No celebrating going-away parties between shows, and, strive to be as present in every show as I was that night.

Erika Henningsen: Cady Heron in Mean Girls 

We have a pretty exhausting schedule on the weekends since we have a two-show day Saturday and Sunday, so my time between shows has been an experiment of trial and error in finding what I can do, and what I need to do, to make it to the Sunday evening show. I eat as soon as I can, so I have time to digest before I’m on stage again. On Saturdays, I go home and sleep. Then it’s back to the August Wilson for show two. If I need a kick of caffeine, I’ll stop at Ground Central Espresso, but usually listening to Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie soundtrack on the walk over wakes me up enough. After show two on Sunday, what I most look forward to is my post-show (or two… or three?) of wine — haha!

Christiani Pitts: Ann Darrow in King Kong

On two-show days I run out and sign Playbills after the first show and then grab food. 9 times out of 10 I am going to Dig Inn if I didn’t bring food from home. [After I eat], it’s pretty easy for me to check out and nap between shows, and almost mandatory in order to have energy for the second performance. Before I solidified my between show schedule I often overslept. Although I needed the rest, I didn’t allow myself enough time to wake back up — but now the system works!

Ryan Vincent Anderson: Trevor in The Play That Goes Wrong 

In between shows I have to eat something, but not too much, or I’ll feel bloated or tired — which is not good for any show, let alone a zany murder mystery where the stage falls apart. I love the soup dumpling place Little Steamed Buns — they make a really awesome scallion pancake sandwich with sliced beef. But I have transitioned to bringing my own food from home more often than not, since it is not only healthier, but also cheaper. I mean, this is NYC, after all!

Manu Narayan: Charley in Merrily We Roll Along

Merrily We Roll Along is very taxing vocally because there are only six cast members and I’m singing the whole time. I try to get a good, healthy meal (often from Whole Foods) and sit and drink some tea and maybe read a little book and just relax. I’m currently reading My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. There’s just something about the culture in Norway that interests me. I don’t know if I’ll make it through all six books in the series, but I’m going to try.

Angie Schworer: Angie in The Prom

I am an errand girl! I do all of my errands in between shows. I have my usual haunts, which include Duane Reade for toiletries and Bloomingdale’s for shopping. The last time I ran over to Bloomingdale’s I managed to get a dress for the Roundabout Theatre event and that felt like a win!

Danny Miller: Kong’s facial expressions in King Kong

I share a room with the guy who is the voice of Kong, Jon Hoche. We’re both avid toy collectors so our dressing room looks like that creepy doll room from the movie Labyrinth. In between shows we often go to Book-Off and hang out in the figurine sections, but sometimes we sneak off to the movies. It’s a nice way to break up the day. I also eat in between shows. Some of my favorites are Ikinari for steak, Nippori for healthy Japanese, and Taco Bell for, well, for Taco Bell.

Astrid van Wieren: Beulah in Come From Away

Usually, I’ll grab a bite to eat. Some of my go-to spots are Daniela’s and Kodama Sushi. Once in a while I mix it up and go to The Lamb’s Club. I love the art deco styling and the food there is delicious. A while back, the casts of The Band’s Visit and Come From Away used to go to hot yoga together and Bodhi. It was great because you’d get a sweat on and then take a bracing cold shower and head back to the theater feeling like the day was just starting again, but when the weather got nice, people kind of stopped showing up.

Christopher Sieber: Trent Oliver in The Prom

In between shows I often go to Mark Fisher Fitness. It’s perfect because the classes are only an hour and you can really sweat your butt off in there. Plus, it’s so much fun! Besides that, I’m often at Island Burger. It’s this little hole-in-the-wall that’s been there for twenty-four years and they have the best chicken sandwiches and burgers. Their sandwiches are like crack. So, either I’m working out, or eating burgers.

Jelani Remy: Swing for Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations

Usually I love nothing more than something quick and delicious from a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant — whether it’s a bowl from Red Poke, a combo from Pio Pio, or something from the classic Juniors. Immediately after, you better believe I’ll finding an equity cot for a good ole nap. Back when I was in The Lion King, we used to have an annual chili cook-off in between shows. One year there were 13 submissions and I had seconds. Needless to say, having to jump around in a corset after that was a mission — but I won the cook off that year so it was totally worth it.

A version of this story first appeared in the March issue of W42St magazine. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here!