Performing Over The Holiday Season; What’s It Really Like?

by Michael Mahany | 12/27/2017 2:38 PM

 

Photo Credit: TimeOut New York

 

During the holiday season, many folks think of time with family, airports, road trips, or some much needed time away from work, but for many professional New York City performers the case is just the opposite. Dancers with New York City Ballet will perform The Nutcracker every night all the way from Thanksgiving through New Years and performers and The Rockettes over at The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will often perform their ninety minute show six times per day. Broadway actors, during the weeks of Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years, can play their rugged but regular eight show week schedule but with additional performances added— or, as often the case during the holidays, they will have their scheduled days off rearranged to allow for more shows during the busiest weeks. This occurs when producers institute a provision provided to them by the acting union during the holiday season which allows them to sandwich two full show weeks together so long as days off are provided around the sixteen shows in a row.

 

Needless to say, the holidays for New York City performers can be an extremely busy and tiresome time. Still though, for many dancers on Broadway and around town, performing during this time of year is considered a thrill and an opportunity. Dance Network spoke with some dancers here in The Big Apple to get their take on what it means to them to be performing on Broadway during the holidays.

 


The Bands Visit at The Atlantic Theatre Company. (Sharone Sayegh fourth from left). Photo Credit: BroadwayWorld

 

Broadway performer Sharone Sayegh, who appears nightly as Anna in the hit new musical The Band’s Visit, explained to us how she connects with not just her own family during the holidays, but others as well.

 

“The amazing thing about being in a Broadway show is knowing that people come to see you perform during holidays and that’s a special moments in their lives. Unfortunately for most Broadway performers, it also means you're unable to be with your own family during the holidays, but it's beautiful to think about how you become a small part of how so many other people celebrate the season,” Sayegh said. “I celebrate with my family from afar during the holidays, we make sure to open presents over Skype, and my husband and I throw a big Hanukkah party every year. It's become a New York tradition of how we celebrate the season.”

 

Wicked The Musical’s Courtney Iventosch told Dance Network how the company over at the Gershwin Theatre becomes a family in and of itself.

 

“Performing during the holiday season is very exciting and fun, but can also be tough because most of us don't get the opportunity to go home to be with family since our schedule doesn't allow for it. While most people have the holidays off, this time is one of our busiest. That said, all of us at the Gershwin really do become a family during the holiday season since we spend a lot of time together,” Iventosch told us. “And, it is so much fun to be in New York during the holidays! The lights and trees are magical, and the holiday spirit is palpable. There really is nothing like the holiday season and Christmas spirit, and it is so magical in New York City. It is so special to be able to perform on Broadway during this fun and festive time of the year! And it is especially fun and rewarding to be able to bring joy to people during the holiday season. That is really a gift for us.”

 


Courtney Iventosch (knit cap, center right) and some of the cast of Wicked recording Carols For A Cure. Photo Credit: BroadwayWorld

 

John Jeffrey Martin, who grew up on Long Island, just outside of New York City understudies the lead role of Charlie Price in the Broadway company of Kinky Boots. He explained how he’s able to sneak away to see his family and still make it back to the city in time for Christmas night shows.

 

“I’m lucky because I am close to my mom still, so I will see her for Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning and get to exchange gifts with my nephews and niece, “Martin explained. As far as performing on Christmas, Martin went on to say, “I have always cherished performing on Christmas, it’s kind of an honor. Everyone at the theater has the magic vibe, and it’s a perfect example of the holidays: giving to the people of the city. Last year we didn’t do the Christmas show, and i missed it a great deal.”

 


John Jeffrey Martin singing for Kinky Boots at Broadway In Bryant Park. Photo Credit: BroadwayWorld.com

 

Cassie Okenka, a native of Ohio, performs in the Broadway company of School Of Rock. Okenka told us the special way she likes to celebrate Christmas in New York, and about how her show, chock full of young actors, handles the busy holiday schedule.

 

“For me, performing during the holiday season is very bittersweet. Unfortunately, my family is unable to come to New York City for the holidays and I'm unable to go home. I usually buy a bunch of junk food and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol in my PJ’s,” Okenka told DN. “With my family, we open presents with each other over FaceTime, but, having been in School of Rock for over two years now, we are our own family in the theatre. Our great stage management team has arranged activities, games, and fun for the week around Christmas. Also, during this time, we are the gifts! So many people give Broadway Show tickets as gifts, and we can feel the excitement from the audience. It's also pretty cool to walk your normal commute to the theatre and now see giant red ornaments and Radio City Music Hall all decorated— just add some snow, and it's the perfect picture.”

 


Cassie Okenka. Photo Credit: CassieOkenka.com

 

Are you seeing any performances over the holidays? Are you performing this holiday season? Tweet us and tell us about it: follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @watchdancetv, and follow me at @michaelmahany. Happy holidays and thanks for watching and reading!