On creativity: Wicked, full-time fitness, & keeping it fun

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First of all, can I just say how very, very hard it is not to dramatically title a blog post that refers to a musical with the lyric going through your head at the moment?

(FYI: “Too long I’ve been afraid of losing love, I guess I lost…”)

That took a lot of restraint.

Second, yes, this is ze fitness blog, and yes, I’ll make it relevant, kind of. But the joy of having your Very Own Blog is that you get to go on about whatever is on your mind. And so… indulge my inner fangirl for a minute? Or skip to the bottom!

[Gratuitous flashback] I was in middle school when I saw Sweeney Todd with my class at TheaterVA. I was tumblr_lg152avbRA1qghbjlo1_500completely transported. I wanted whatever that feeling was, forever and always. I obsessed over the program, and researched the history of Sweeney Todd, learning that Angela Lansbury had a life before Murder, She Wrote. This was before the Internet, kids. I had to go to the library.

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Did I mention I won the Wicked lottery?

Flash forward, I’m *ahem* a wee bit older, and find myself doing things like… poring over the program for Wicked. And researching the history of Wicked. Thank you to Wikipedia, which makes this much easier than when I was 13, and to YouTube, where I could see the performance of “Defying Gravity” at the Tonys. (See it live first, please! It’s so powerful in person, it took my breath away.) And Twitter, where I get to follow (not-a-stalker) some of the amazing actors who introduced me to the magic of Wicked: @EmmaHunton, @Gina_Beck, (brilliant Elpheba and Glinda, respectively) and my new Twitter BFF (though she may not know it) (not-a-stalker-really) @alisonfraser. (Plays Madame Morrible, and has the best travel Instagrams and  spends her day off live-Tweeting Die Hard. What’s not to love?)

I really will get to the point, but first, if you’re one of the two people I haven’t shared my experience with, 3 things:

1) It’s brilliant. You might have heard: Wicked is amazing.

2) It’s worth waiting for. I’d never seen the show, and was getting a little despondent. I’d missed it the first time it came to Richmond, and as soon as I heard it was coming again – like, a year ago – I was so excited. I’d save up! I’d get great seats! Then I had a Minor Tax Crisis (read: I will be paying the IRS for 4 years). Then a guy was going to take me, but I decided after 2 dates I couldn’t bear a third. (Honestly, he’d almost ruined Grand Budapest Hotel; I couldn’t bear the idea of him ruining Wicked for me!)

3) I won the lottery!  I was trying desperately to think of ways I might still pull this out with less than $75 in my bank account, when by chance I saw the actors who play Boq and Nessarose on one of our morning shows. I watched the interview happily. I thought, “This is nice, this is my taste of it, and they seem really pleasant people, hope they’re enjoying Richmond.” Then they mentioned the Wicked lottery. A chance for up-front seats for $25 each! Okay, I determined, I would show up for every remaining show (5 at that point), and if it wasn’t meant to be, at least I tried. Fifty people showed up when I was there on a Thursday, and I picked people I’d be happy for if I didn’t win. (Selfishly trying to increase my chances of leaving happy.) Two of the 3 people I picked won, and I was delighted. Then they called me! So thrilled. My aunt (whose birthday was upcoming) went with me, and we had second row orchestra seats. It was a really great night, and Kathy and I were pretty sure we saw the Best Show Ever, that no other Wicked or Wicked cast had ever been as great as ours.

***

Okay, back to the point.

So, the last two months or so, I’d been thinking a fair bit about Broadway actors, and touring actors, not as much in a fan way (though obviously I’m a total fangirl), but trying to figure out how they did it. How do you keep the magic going month in and out, 8 shows a week?

I had hit a place in my own work where I felt like I was losing it. I’d arrived! I was a full-time fitness professional. This was what I’d dreamed of for years, and it is such a perfect job for me, creative and challenging and steady work (never to be discounted)… but also? It  is physically and emotionally exhausting. I teach about 20 classes a week. I put myself out there, get up in front of people and give it my all, every day. So many days, I would think there was no way I could get out of bed, much less do it all over again.

So I started to wonder, in a sort of a scared way, do actors ever feel like this? Do they get that thing they’ve worked so very hard for and beat the worst odds for, only to feel like they’re going to go crazy? Do they think, if I have to sing this song one more time I will kill someone?

Around this point I read an interview with Idina Menzel where she said something to the effect of, “You have to do things outside of the 8 shows a week or you’ll go crazy.” And I was thinking, “Don’t stop there! Tell me more! I need to know!”

So I considered the “things outside,” and following a bit of advice from The Artist’s Way, decided to find ways to have more fun. I have been trying to do creative hobbies outside of work, like writing a book I started earlier this year, just for fun. I started singing lessons last week… just to play. Not because I want to be a big-time writer or run away with the Wicked tour (sure, a daydream here or there; it’s the new running away with the circus, y’know)…

And you know? I think it’s working. I have more energy for classes, from yoga to new Zumba routines. I don’t feel so drained at the end of the day, and I’m sitting here writing  a ridiculously long blog post and watching Twitter with Zumba music playing in the background. It feels like a pretty good life.

One of my friends passed on some wisdom to me recently, that “creativity feeds creativity.”

I think that’s really true.

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