Jonalyn Saxer lights up the stage with her bright smile and her incredible tapping. Currently performing in her third Broadway show, Holiday Inn, Jonalyn jump ropes, dances and sings Irving Berlin classics 8 times a week. Despite her exhausting schedule, she found time to chat with us about her Broadway experience.
Joy: You started on Broadway as a swing, and now you’re part of the ensemble. What’s that transition like?
It’s very different. I always knew that I wanted to start out being a swing. I think it’s a great experience professionally and just socially being able to do that and so I was honored to be a swing.
J: It’s so hard.
It’s very hard. It’s very different because I replaced in Bullets Over Broadway, so all my work was basically done for me and then in Honeymoon in Vegas we had to create our own show bibles. That was the hardest part when everything is changing. You can change something that day in previews and somebody can get sick and not be in the show that night.
J: Has that happened? Did that happen when you were in Honeymoon?
Yes. When I was in Honeymoon, yes, yes. Not too many people got sick. It was a short run, but we had a long preview period which was difficult. We did go on during previews while things are changing and you can’t officially make your notes until everything is frozen, which is really hard because I like to have a lot of notes.
J: Now you get to go on every night.
I was joking with a friend, because doing this, my body is more tired but my brain isn’t. So now I almost am doing more things in addition to the show than I did as a swing because I couldn’t fathom doing anything during the day and then going to the show. Like my brain was just dead. Especially during rehearsals and during previews, I couldn’t do anything else.
J: Holiday Inn looks like such a fun show to be a part of.
Yes, it is. It is really fun and I really like my track.
J: You do have a fun track. You have the best costumes.
It’s so much fun and I enjoy it – which is nice because Bullets was really, really hard. There are a couple of weeks where I would be on for a full week and I couldn’t do anything, I was so tired. But for Holiday Inn, it’s just hard enough where I feel like I am doing things every night and I am really dancing, but not hard enough that I hate my life on a Sunday.
J: When I go see a Broadway show, I don’t book the day before a day off. They don’t show it, but it just feels like it’s the tiredest day for the cast.
I think Thursdays are best – Wednesday are hard because they are two show days, but Thursdays you are in the groove but you are not too tired yet. So Thursday and Friday are the best shows.
Serena: What do you do during the week when you are flagging?
I have to take a nap in between shows. So if I stay at the theater or go home, I have to take a nap before the second show of the day. And I don’t want to try a show if I am not taking a nap.
J: Do you stagedoor?
I do stagedoor every night. It’s fun. For Honeymoon and Bullets, I didn’t do it as much as a swing. No one really knows who you are, you are not in makeup, they don’t see you. And with Honeymoon, we really only had Tony Danza fans at the stage door.
S: Honeymoon was such a great show. How does it feel when a show like that ends too soon?
It’s really hard because you put so much work into it and you know that it’s good. Bullets at the end, and Honeymoon, you would walk into the theater and you weren’t sure if this is going to be your last week. It’s very hard to just enjoy what we were doing because we were so worried like, “oh, is this email we are going to get telling us we are going to close.” It was very nerve-wracking and it’s hard for a swing because nobody would call out because they were so worried that they would miss a performance if the show might not go on. Holiday Inn is a limited run, open until January 15th. I mean, we are still all trying to find work after it, but we get to enjoy the holidays with a great group of people doing a fantastic show.
J: What’s your favorite number in Holiday Inn?