If you looked at a map of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and stuck push-pins into it designating where the touring team of Theatreworks USA’s production of Nate the Great has been since January 31, it seems you would be hard-pressed to find much white space!
The cast and crew of the Nate the Great production have been hitting the road since late January and will continue
their odyssey until mid June. Since late January their home base has been New York City, but come April, they head westbound performing in Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin and heading as far as Minnesota.
Each actor is also paid as a ASM (Assistant Stage Manager) and besides obtaining professional acting skills they are well-versed in stage set-up and costume repair. The cast and crew range in age from 23 through 27 years of age and many are experiencing – and enjoying – their first paychecks as professional actors.
It’s rewarding to know that our work is paying off because we’re introducing lots of kids to their first musical theater experience – “Nate the Great” stage manager, Danny Bouress
Theatreworks USA is well-known as the company where young actors, directors, writers and stage managers cut their teeth on professional theater. A list of Theatreworks USA alumni reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” of theatre: four-time Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks, Robert Jess Roth (Beauty and the Beast), writers Marta Kauffman and the Main Line’s David Crane (TV’s “Friends”), Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island). In addition esteemed performers F. Murray Abraham and Henry Winkler got their start with Theatreworks, and other actors have gone on to originate lead roles in such Broadway shows as Avenue Q, Hairspray, Young Frankenstein, Rent, Wicked, Jersey Boys, and many others.
For the cast and crew of Nate the Great a typical day begins at 6am when the team meets at 122nd Street in New York City and takes to the road in two vans, filled with costumes and sets. They usually reach their destination within two hours where it takes the team about 20 minutes to unload the vans, an hour to set up the stage, and sit through sound-check. Then each actor has a half an hour before the performance to get into character and prepare for the hour-long show.
Depending on the time of the show, morning performance, late afternoon or evening, they will strike set, load up the vans and head back to New York City or onto their next destination.
Many would question such a grueling schedule, a life that involves being out on the road for five months straight, keeping track of the particular town where the crew has landed. Stage manager Danny Bouress wouldn’t have it any other way. “I have friends who sit at desks from nine to five everyday and have to wear a suit and tie to work. I get to wear T-shirts and jeans everyday! I absolutely love what I do.”
Lindsey Sconiers who plays “Annie” landed the job with TheatreworksUSA after graduating from Marymount Manhattan College with a BA in Theatre Performance and a minor in Musical Performance. “This is the first time I’ve had to wake up really early. I get up at 4am! In college I had early dance classes, but this is REALLY early!”
For both members of the Nate the Great crew, Lindsey and Danny have had an extremely rewarding experience performing for children. “I have the opportunity every now and then to look into the audience from the sound booth and see the kids watching the show,” says Danny. “They are mesmerized, literally sitting on the edges of their seats.”
For many young audience members it is the first time they are watching live theater. “It’s rewarding to know that our work is paying off because we’re introducing lots of kids to their first musical theater experience,” says Danny.
“Before we go on to perform, an announcement is made about the show and I can hear the kids screeching with excitement,” adds Lindsey. “It really lifts my spirits.”