BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching

Related: Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Charles Swan, Swing, Show Boat, RENT, HSPVA, Musical, Dance

Me: Many assume the job of being a swing is a particularly thankless job. Is there truth to this assessment?

Charles Swan: Anyone who has worked in the business is aware that a swing can literally save the day. I've known of instances where someone has gotten injured in a dance sequence and the swing was called to the stage mid-production. The swing dressed out and was in the next number seamlessly. If the goal in musical theatre is storytelling-and it is-then a swing can be the most important person in keeping the story moving along without pause.

When we were in final dress rehearsals, I was going on for a dancer who was ill. That definitely wasn't thankless.

Me: In addition to being cast in SHOW BOAT as a swing, you teach at Houston's High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. How do you balance both of these time consuming responsibilities?

Charles Swan: I also teach for Theatre Under the Stars-so managing all three jobs has been challenging. My colleagues at PVA have been exceptionally generous and kind in helping me race from one rehearsal to another. My days are exceptionally long with most starting around 5am and ending some time after midnight. I'm really grateful to Theatre Under the Stars, HPSVA and HGO for working in tandem to make this all work.

Me: After SHOW BOAT, where can Houston audiences see you next?

Charles Swan: Audiences can check out RENT at HSPVA, which is my next project. I'm the co-director of the project [with Cynthia Ogden]. We recently went into rehearsals, and I'm already blown away by how our students have really "shown up" for this piece. They are so brave and willing to dive in to the material. Houston audiences won't want to miss it.

Me: As an artist what inspires you?

Charles Swan: People who work hard always inspire me. On SHOW BOAT our choreographer really inspired me. Michele Lynch choreographed this show previously in Chicago. All the steps had already been designed, the formations thought out and the transitions worked through. She could have easily demanded the exact same production in Houston. Many times directors/choreographers will "set" the same show on different people. Michele took the time to learn the dancers in Houston and worked meticulously to create movement that worked on them-that fit their bodies.

That type of intelligence and "with-it-ness" are rare. It's a testament to Michele's artistry, integrity and her compassion.

Me: As a teacher, I'm sure you get asked this often, but what advice do you have for others hoping to develop a career as a performer?

Charles Swan: I think the biggest thing I can offer is to control the aspects of the business that you can. Theatre is such a subjective art-audiences are subjective, reviews are subjective, even contracts can be subjective. There are things that are just out of your control. Accept that. However, really smart artists take control over the aspects of the profession that they can. These are things like being prepared, taking care of your body, having your music ready, showing up to rehearsal with thoughts and ideas, doing your research, etc., etc. The only thing you can really control is your preparation. So control it.

Houston Grand Opera's gorgeous and grand production of SHOW BOAT closes Saturday, February 9, 2013. For more information and tickets, please visit http://www.houstongrandopera.org or call (713) 228 - 6737. For more information about the upcoming production of RENT that Charles Swan is co-directing, please visit http://www.onstagehspva.org.

All photos courtesy of Charles Swan.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching
Members of the SHOW BOAT cast in rehearsal.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching
Members of the SHOW BOAT cast in rehearsal.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching
Charles Swan backstage.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching
A view of the Cotton Blossom set from the wings.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching
The view of The Wortham Center's Brown Theatre from the stage.

BWW Interviews: Charles Swan Talks About His Career, Being a Swing, SHOW BOAT, and Teaching




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David Clarke David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined BroadwayWorld.com running their Houston site in early 2012 and began writing as the site's official theatre recording critic in June of 2013.



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