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BLOG: Week 3 of The Road to Opening Stratford's THE SOUND OF MUSIC

BroadwayWorld Toronto is pleased to present the third entry in an exclusive series of guest blogs from The Stratford Festival. Stephanie Rothenberg (Maria in The Sound of Music) and Sara Farb (Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank) will chronicle their road from first preview to opening night in our newest feature "The Road to Opening!" Here, Stephanie writes about backstage life at the festival! Also, check out some more exclusive photos!

Hi Everybody! We're now in the middle of Week 4 of previews and next week is our final week before Opening Night! You can feel the town of Stratford starting to rev up, as the gardens are being planted outside the Festival Theater, and the swans are gliding over the river, restaurants are reopening their doors, and audiences are filling the theaters. My family and boyfriend are all flying in from New York City to be here and I'm so excited to experience my 1st Opening week here at the Stratford Festival with them!

With the change in weather and busy repertory schedule, it's also an easy time to succumb to illness. I went through that this week and wanted to share with you some "tricks of the trade" for the aspiring performers out there or those of you who are just curious how we get through sickness as professional actors.

During rehearsals or a run of a show, I have to become hyper sensitive to my body and how it feels every single day. That means that even if I'm not performing on a certain day, I have to warm up my voice and check in with my body to make sure there's nothing abnormal going on. The worst thing I can do is get out there on stage and not know that a certain part of my voice is tired, or that my muscles are tight (cartwheels ouch!). That's how injuries happen, and we have to learn how to protect ourselves against that and to be smart about our instruments so that we can maintain a strenuous show schedule.

So I got a spring cold this week and woke up to the feeling of my head being a solid brick. My throat was scratchy and my body was tired. Ok, the alarm in my head went off, and I had to start a serious regimen to get my body back on track for an evening show!

Here are my tricks:

-Tons of liquids - of course water, but one of my favorite things is making my own tea: hot water with lemon, freshly grated ginger to open up the sinuses, and honey. Another great thing I find for the sinuses is rubbing a couple drops of peppermint oil on my temples. It opens up the sinuses like a natural version of Vicks Vapor Rub :)

-Multiple gentle vocal warm ups throughout the day to check in with the voice. When I wake up with a cold like this it's very stressful to think of singing that high C in "Do Re Mi" or yodeling in "Lonely Goatherd", so I just try to take it one step at a time. Beginning with soft hums in the morning, and transitioning throughout the day into more open, full sounds to prepare for the show helps me to not feel so overwhelmed. Being gentle with yourself is the key when you're sick...and in general really!

-Steam - either long, hot showers, or with a personal steamer that can deliver moisture straight to your vocal folds.

-Foods - Personally, I try to stay away from dairy when I'm sick, and add in more dark leafy greens with tons of vitamins, and citrus fruits. I find smoothies are a great way to get my greens in even when I'm not sick.

-Sleep - You all know this, but it helps repeating, naps are a great tool for fighting off viruses

-Light physical activity - I need to test how my body is going to react to the pace of the show, so I went for a nice brisk walk around the river with my friend, Alex, who plays Liesl in the show, and tried to see how that affected my voice (it dried me out, so I knew I was going to need to drink extra water during the show that night)

The shows ended up going wonderfully and I'm feeling healthy again. I hope you enjoyed some of my "tricks of the trade". Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye and see you next week!

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Stephanie Rothenberg

2015 at Stratford: Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Ms Rothenberg starred on Broadway as Rosemary Pilkington opposite Nick Jonas in (read more...)