Hello! I’m Sean Ryan, and I am currently touring the country with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella as one of the male Swings! For those who don’t know what that is, I’m basically the understudy for the entire male ensemble. I cover 7 people, and have to be ready to go on for them if they cannot perform. Swings aren’t guaranteed to perform every night, so no performance is taken for granted!
With our show, we travel either by bus or plane from city to city and stay anywhere from 1 night to a 10 day sit-down. Because we travel a lot, it’s super important to take care of our bodies. Different time zones, elevations, and weather can really affect you, so we all try to eat as healthy as we can and work out when possible. A hard part about being on tour is that you can’t really have a set routine, because you never know what food will be available or what gyms will be around. Nevertheless, we persist!
There is no real “typical” day when you’re a Swing on tour, because every day is different. I’m going to take you through a day where we were in the same city for 2 weeks. This day was a 2-show day!
• My Company Manager contacted me the night before to let me know I will be going on for one of my tracks for the matinee. John, the ensemble member, will sit out in the audience and watch the show because he understudies the Prince, and this gives him a chance to work on his understudy stuff. This is called a “swing out!”
• Breakfast time! Sometimes the hotels provide a free continental breakfast (which is my favorite). Other times, we’ll have to find somewhere to eat around the hotel. It’s very important to eat breakfast so you have energy for the show(s)!
• After eating, I like to relax and digest all my food. Netflix is a necessity when on tour. Once I’m done with that, I’ll try to workout. If the hotel doesn’t have a gym, I’ll go on a run outside to warm up my body.
• We have to be to the theatre a half-hour before the show starts, but I like to go a little earlier to have a little more time to get ready. Sometimes, the theatre is super close to the hotel, so we can walk. Other times, a bus will be provided to take us. When we get to the theatre, we have to sign in to let Company Management know we are in the building. Then, a warm-up is a must, especially for a show like this! Then we get into microphones and costumes and go to our places for the start of the show!
• Throughout the show, I have my notebook offstage with my notes for each different track, so I can study one specific person when I’m performing. This helps differentiate the tracks, so I don’t get confused when onstage. These are called “tracking sheets.” They have very important information, such as numbers (where you are on stage), costume changes, and prop lists.
• Once the show is over, we get out of costume and microphones and then we have a break for dinner before we have to be back for the next show. Yay 2 show days! Luckily, many restaurants surround our theatre.
• After eating, we head back to the theatre to do it all again! For this show, no ensemble members are out of the show, so I won’t be performing again. However, this doesn’t mean I have the night off! Swings are always working, even if they’re not performing that show.
• Since I performed one track this morning, I’m going to focus on another track for this show. I decide whom I want to focus on, and then I can choose to watch the show from the audience, or be backstage. It’s important to know what happens offstage just as much as what happens on stage. For this show there are a lot of props and costume changes, and you have to know where to go for those because you don’t have much time between scenes.
• After the show, we have the night to do whatever we want! If we’re in a cool city, sometimes we’ll go out and explore. Other times, we’ll just head back to the hotel and rest. Post-show food is always the best. I’m a huge fan of Domino’s pizza because it’s all over the country. I mean, I performed today, so I deserve it, right?
• If we are leaving the city the next day, I try to pack up my suitcases the night before so I can sleep in as long as possible before getting on the bus.
There you have it! Swinging a show is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s also one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had! I hope this shed a little light on what my life is like! If you want to see more, follow me @seanzyryan!
Thanks Sean for a great behind the scene look at a swing’s life.