The Marvelous Wonderettes' Sally Schwab Stars in All-New Show ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING
Real-life NYC public high school history teacher Sally Schwab is pulling triple stage duty this spring, continuing her roles as Betty Jean in off-Broadway's The Marvelous Wonderettes and the female swing in NEWSical the Musical and now starring in her own show, Adventures in Babysitting. Written with and directed by three-time Drama Desk nominee Tom D'Angora (NEWSical the Musical, Naked Boys Singing!, and The Marvelous Wonderettes), the production is a revised version of the show Schwab first premiered in 2013. Once again, Adventures in Babysitting recounts her story of arriving to the Great White Way as a young, wide-eyed aspiring theatre actress. It follows Schwab as she navigates the insane world of auditions while paying her dues working odd gigs, including what would become her go-to survival job: helping to raise NYC's most colorful children. Joining Schwab in Adventures in Babysitting are Alex Ringler (Broadway's West Side Story, first national tour of A Chorus Line and off Broadway's Pageant) Dylan Thompson (NEWSical the Musical and Naked Boys Singing!) and Gregory Sullivan (Naked Boys Singing!). Music direction is by eight-time MAC Award winner and Bistro Award winner Tracy Stark. The limited run of Adventures in Babysitting begins Monday, April 3rd at 7pm at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
"I moved to New York City almost fourteen years ago," remembers Sally Schwab. "I didn't know anyone or have anything except two boxes and big dreams. I struggled a lot that first year, auditioning while trying to make ends meet and suffering severe homesickness. I called my parents every day crying."
Schwab tried her hand at several odd jobs that first year. She passed out fliers for TKTS (that lasted one day), worked as a barista at Cosi (for a week) and even taught classes at Lucille Roberts Fitness for Women. Nothing really clicked until she landed into babysitting. "I got my first job through a friend I met at auditions," she continues. "A lady in her building needed someone and I shuffled my University at Buffalo butt over there."
Thus began her ten year adventure working with NYC's most colorful characters: its kids. Schwab babysat her butt off: singing, dancing, shuttling tykes from yoga to fencing classes, helping with their homework, and freezing in the bitter cold when they insisted on spending the day in the playground during the dead of winter.
"For me, the most difficult babysitting jobs were the children in the middle. The ones who weren't old enough to do their own thing or young enough to just sleep. Those middle kids would have me playing Barbie's with them all day long and nothing is worse than being close to 30 with a twelve inch plastic lady in your hand."
Then there were the particularly special kids like the little boy who would order seven cake pops from Starbucks, scarf down the pops and then eat all of the sticks.
Adventures in Babysitting features hilarious anecdotes, high-octane vocals, and too-bizarre-to-be-true stories of Sally Schwab's real life adventures. Songs range from Sondheim and Cy Coleman to pop numbers and gospel spirituals. Through out the show's wild calamity, one thing is obvious: Sally Schwab has a real place in her heart for the children. "Babysitting was a super tough job but I learned that I'm really good with little people and they fit in my life."
It's likely why she chose to make a career with kids. In addition to starring in two off-Broadway shows and now, her own show, Sally teaches 10th Grade Global History in the South Bronx.
Though her night gigs involve comedy, her day job as "Ms. Schwab" is no joke. She is responsible for twenty-five kids in four classes, all with different learning and behavior needs and at varying reading levels. "It's exhausting but totally worth it. I really feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my students."
Three years ago, Sally Schwab started her school's first-ever musical theatre program. So far, she's directed and choreographed three shows. Though they only live one borough away from Manhattan, many of her students have never attended a live theatre production. "Now, at least, they know all about Once on This Island, Little Shop of Horrors and Pippin," she says.
Schwab also credits the thick skin she acquired from babysitting as helping her to overcome the biggest health battle of her life. Eleven years ago, Schwab was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was told she may never sing again but with determination and perseverance, she managed to overcome that hurdle.
Sally Schwab made her Off-Broadway debut in A Broadway Diva Christmas, produced by Tom and Michael D'Angora. She later went on to appear in "Back in Pictures" and as Queenie in the Provincetown Theatre's production of Lippa's The Wild Party. She attended the University at Buffalo for musical theatre and holds a Masters degree in Education from Hunter College.
She currently stars as Betty Jean in The Marvelous Wonderettes and as the female swing in NEWSical the Musical, both playing at The Kirk Theatre. The Marvelous Wonderettes takes a cotton-candied colored musical trip down memory lane with four girls whose hopes and dreams are as big as their crinoline skirts. Their lives and loves from prom night to their ten year reunion are told through more than twenty chart topping hits of the fifties. NEWSical the Musical spoofs all the headlines of the day in side splitting numbers. Both are produced by Tom D'Angora.
"Every single experience has brought me to where I am today," reflects Sally Schwab. "Through babysitting, I discovered my love of children. Teaching has enabled me to fight for them and their futures. Performing on stage has proven that dreams can come true. And through it all, I can say that I have a confidence that I didn't have that first year when I was calling my parents every day crying. Now I know that no matter what is thrown at me, I can always sing and dance my way through it."
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