Words From The Wings: Shawna Hamic of 1776 Talks Pre-Show Rituals, Backstage Must-Haves, and More!

Read all of Shawna's answers here!

By: Oct. 27, 2022
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Words From The Wings: Shawna Hamic of 1776 Talks Pre-Show Rituals, Backstage Must-Haves, and More!

BroadwayWorld is bringing you Words From the Wings, a new series of interviews that take fans behind the scenes of some of their favorite Broadway stars' backstage routines!

Today we're chatting with Shawna Hamic who plays "Richard Henry Lee" in 1776! She told us all about her pre-show rituals, backstage must-haves, and more! Check out her answers, along with photos taken by BroadwayWorld's Jennifer Broski, below!

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What's the first thing you do when you arrive to the theatre?

First thing I do is say hello- to the folks working in the box office as I pass them & then the security guards. I often step into the empty theater to look quickly around and imagine how the people who will soon fill those seats might be today. Then I sign in, say hello to my AMAZING dresser Judy & start doing my pin curls.

​​​What's the last thing you do before you go on stage?

The last thing I do before I go onstage is to make sure my presets are done and ready to go on my dressing station- pectin drop unwrapped and waiting, rings for Lee set and waiting to be put on, water bottle filled and ready to go. Fun fact- I had a signet ring of the Lee family crest made for the Broadway run. I feel like it's the connection point between he and I. It's really special to me. On the inside of the band is engraved 'R.H. Lee - 1776' so it also serves as my memento for the Broadway run.

What's your must-have backstage snack?

Oh I'm a fan of backstage snacks. My incredible dressing roommate Lulu Picart and I have many snacks. Some salty, some sweet, but the most important is the stash of Ritz crackers I have for Elizabeth Davis (who plays Thomas Jefferson.) She's very pregnant and she often comes in when she needs a snack. So they are there for her whenever she needs some. (It's a tradition that started in Boston.)

Pre-show ritual that others may think is weird?

Every single show at 5 to places you will find me standing at center stage right behind the center part of the flag show curtain. I'm fully dressed and am holding 'The Beast' (which is what my dresser and I have named my period coat as she is so heavy) over my arm. I face the audience and listen for a moment to the rumble of voices and laughter as they wait for us to begin. Then I raise my right hand slightly- palm facing out to them- and I introduce myself. I generally say (quietly) something like- 'Hi. I'm Shawna. We are going to be taking a journey together. I hope you are excited to be here. I know I am. So come with us. Be open to what WE bring with our 1776. Let's have a good time.' And then I move over to my first spot where I'll be when the curtain opens & I do my few remaining stretches. Finally once everyone is onstage and in their spots I take a moment to look at every single person's face. To honor who they are and what they bring and what we'll bring together. Sometimes there are standbys on or understudies so that's fun. But for just the briefest moments, when the house has gone dark and before Adam's has come on to make the opening speech- it is just us- the company of 1776- standing together in mutual purpose and intent. Ready to put on a show. And it's wonderful.

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What are five must-haves in your dressing room?

1- bouquet of fresh flowers. I start every week by grabbing some flowers from my local floral stand on the way to the subway. I'll arrange them in the theater once I arrive first thing. I love fresh flowers. (I wanted to be a florist when I was a kid.)

2- pictures of my friends and family. I love to surround myself with people I love.

3- a big, chunky tea mug. I don't want a dainty tea cup, give me a good ol' mug that you almost have to hold with both hands any day.

4- comfy slippers. I actually have a 50 minute break in the middle of the show so I love being able to take off my show shoes and lounge around in some squishy slippers. Course the trouble is remembering to put the show shoes back on. There have been a few times when I was about to enter back onstage to look down and realize I was about to walk on with slippers on my feet! Luckily my dressing room is close to the stage so I was able to run back and change them.

​What's your favorite moment from the show to watch from the wings?

There are a lot of tables and chairs that move on and off stage quite a bit so it can be treacherous to be in the wrong spot off in the wings, so mostly I listen over the monitors, but I do have one that I love to watch. It is after the courier has delivered the first dispatch from General Washington and the entire company does this lovely stylized movement as they listen and react in a slight 'out of time' way. It's awesome.

What has been your favorite backstage moment in your time with this show so far?

So this moment is actually both on stage and backstage at the same time. During the song 'The Egg' the entire cast (except for Jefferson, Franklin & Adam's who are singing the song) are all singing backup vocals from behind the curtain. I play various air instruments (including a triangle hit & trombone slide which are hidden in the orchestration) and then we get to a certain point in the song and Mike Dobson (our drummer/percussionist) has this awesome drum part and it suddenly becomes a dance party back behind the curtain right there onstage! All these people in period coats and shoes head banging and dancing. You'd think we were insane, but it is awesome. And the audience has no idea! So much fun.

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About Shawna Hamic

(she/her) Broadway: The Last Ship (Mrs. Dees). Broadway National Tours: Les Misérables (Madame Thénardier), Kinky Boots (Trish). Off-Broadway: Miss You Like Hell, The Public Theater. Regional: My Paris, Goodspeed; Hello Dolly!, Sacramento Music Circus; Twist, Alliance Theater. TV: "Orange is the New Black" (C.O. Ginger), "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Isabelle), "Halston" (Pat Ast), "Russian Doll" (Nurse Reba), "New Amsterdam" (Inmate Charly Yarborough). Film: BRUISED (Directed by Halle Berry). Actors' Equity Association member.

About 1776

1776 features Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards, Book by Peter Stone, Based on a concept by Sherman Edwards, Direction by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus, Choreography by Jeffrey L. Page, Music Supervision by David Chase, Orchestrations by John Clancy, Vocal Design by AnnMarie Milazzo and Music Direction by Ryan Cantwell.

The creative team includes Scott Pask (Sets), Emilio Sosa (Costumes), Jen Schriever (Lights), Jonathan Deans (Sound), David Bengali (Projections), Mia Neal (Hair & Wigs), Stephen Kopel, CSA (Casting), Brisa Areli Muñoz (Associate Director) and Alfredo Macias (Production Stage Manager).



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