Student swing roles are anything but a walk in the park
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Point Park University Conservatory Theatre Company students as ensemble members in "Prisoners of Love." Pictured above from left: Jasmine Lewis, Arielle Rawding, Reed Worth, Juliana Jurenas, Kevin Donohue and Erin Ulbert. Center: Tyler Jetter and Kyle Coughlin. Bottom row: Maurissa Auer and Meaghan Foy.
Being an undergrad at Point Park University normally means a busy schedule for students. However, some Conservatory of Performing Arts performers find themselves being busy on a whole new level. The Conservatory Theatre Company's opening production of The Producers, directed and choreographed by alumnus and Broadway veteran Tomé Cousin, cast four students as swings, providing them the opportunity to experience another side of the acting business.
Nate McVicker, senior musical theatre major, describes his swing position as a non-performing cover for multiple roles. In addition to his own six positions, McVicker is responsible for learning the roles (dancing, singing and any spoken lines) covered by his fellow swings in the event that another swing is already cast.
“What’s fun about being a swing,” says McVicker, “is that I know the entire show. With the exception of the leads, I can perform what every male does in each number. It’s definitely a learning experience.”
Chelsea Sweaney, one of the two female swings, is a junior musical theatre major. Sweaney is one of the dance captains for the show along with being a swing; essentially, she knows the entire choreography for the show.
“I love being a swing because you get to know the whole show and it keeps you on your toes,” says Sweaney.
It takes a lot of time and practice to be a good swing. As McVicker and Sweaney explain, there is not enough time in rehearsals to run the musical numbers enough to allow the swings to get a chance to practice every role. Swings spend a lot of time taking notes and practicing alone when they have free time.
Despite the busy schedule, both swings agree the experience is priceless.
“This experience has made me a better all-around performer,” says Sweaney. “You really have to be on your game all the time.”
The Producers runs through Oct. 28 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Visit www.pittsburghplayhouse.com for ticket information.
Article by Kayleigh Smith, junior public relations major
Video: Interview with director Tomé Cousin