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BWW Blog: Jordan Grubb and Noah Plomgren of Goodspeed's GUYS & DOLLS - A Bushel And A SWING!

Runyonland Blog Post #3: A Bushel And A SWING!

Howdy Broadway World! Its your friend Noah here again with another installment of Runyonland! Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I'm currently hanging outside in the sun enjoying my day off, trying to think of what to write about this week when an incident that happened a few days ago during a Guys and Dolls performance prompted the perfect topic for this post.

Our amazing cast is a wonderful group of actors that work tirelessly onstage 8 shows a week. But there are two young folks that are also working tirelessly that you never really get to see on stage. These two performers are Michael Bullard and Jayme Wappel, our stupidly talented swings.

For those of you who don't know what a swing is, a swing is a performer contracted for a show (who may or may not be on stage in the ensemble every night) who learns and covers several roles (or tracks) in the ensemble of the show. For instance, Michael covers every male ensemble member in our production of Guys and Dolls so he has to know somewhere around 6 or 7 different roles and be ready to go on for any of them at any given moment. Same with Jayme.

During rehearsals, as we would be learning the show, Michael and Jayme would sit at the front of the room with huge binders full of floor plans, graphs, note cards, etc and would graph and trace out every single ensemble member's floor and show pattern. The first time I went over to their table to say hi, I glanced down at these binders and my mind almost instantaneously exploded from the complex zig zags, color coded arrows and all sorts of other madness that makes absolute perfect sense to them and absolute zero sense to me. They then continue to edit these charts and graphs throughout the rehearsal process as the show changes, until its frozen (which means changes will no longer be taking place to the show. This typically happens when we get towards the end of our preview period.)

Once performances are up and running our swings sit in the green room of the theatre where they can watch the show on a TV monitor and follow along as they continue to work on and go over their tracks. They are both required to be at the theatre for every performance in case something happens in the middle of the show where they would need to go on for someone. You never think something like this is going to happen but sure enough, this past week, one of our dancers injured himself in the middle of a performance. Thankfully, this dancer was really smart and listened to his body and decided that it would not be safe for him to continue on with the rest of that night's performance. Once he alerted stage management, Michael was quickly rushed up to the dressing room to get in costume for the second act, quickly glanced over his show binder to remind himself of that dancer's track, and BAM! he was on. And performed flawlessly. Jayme has also had the chance to go on for every female ensemble track in our show and was a complete and total rock star every time.

Its truly an amazing thing to witness how they calmly and so precisely execute each role that they have to know. It takes a very particular kind of mind and person to be a swing and I don't know if I could ever do it as well as these two. So today, I'd like to send out a little salute to our beautiful swings in Guys and Dolls, along with the swings in every show around the world, some of the theatre's greatest unsung heroes.


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