What's it like to be a Broadway performer?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
My experience working on Broadway was a dream come true. I literally would pinch myself some days as I walked in the Stage Door off of Shubert alley eight times a week. Attending the theater as I was growing up had always been like going to church for me. It was the closest thing to having a spiritual experience for me (and when it is at it's best, it can still elevate me to a place that is otherworldly!!!).
I made my Broadway debut in A Chorus Line... I'm NOT going to say what year... only that it was the ORIGINAL run of the Pulitzer Award winning show. I was not in the original cast that is on the album, but it was during the original run of the show.
I can't speak for other Broadway performers, but I can share my personal experience. I felt like I was living a dream. To be twenty-one and living in N.Y. in an illegal loft on the 31st floor of the building on the corner of 37th and 8th avenue. It had 15 feet high windows that faced south towards the Empire State building. The only downside was that the first thirty floors were garment workers, so during the winter the radiators in the building were turned off every day at 5pm and turned back on at 7am... it was fantastic!
Back to the question. I used to tell people, when asked, that I would have paid $ to dance on Broadway. The ritual of getting to the theatre before the 30 minute minimum required by the Actors Equity Assoc. (the union covering stage performers)... walking upstairs to your dressing room, changing into warm-up clothes and begin the process of warming up... Dancers need to stretch and limber up their bodies before hitting the stage. At that age, I didn't require as much warm-up time, but that is when people might chat and socialize. Back to your dressing room for vocal warm ups and then your dresser brings your wardrobe... you change... and then when the stage manager calls "ten minutes to show" you head down and prepare to hit the stage as soon as the house lights go down and the orchestra starts up...
It is a blast! Plain and simple. To actually be paid to do what you love soooo much is heaven. Six days a week... two shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays... Of all the career accomplishments and opportunities I was to be blessed by in the following twenty years, I still think I was truly happiest during those days on Broadway. I was making Equity scale at the time so I wasn't rolling in dough, and I would proceed to make much more money in the years to come, but the pure bliss I experienced during my time in my first Broadway show still to this day sets the bar for living my dream. I mean, really, you spend the day resting and preparing to take to the stage for those two and a half hours onstage that night. The feeling of family one develops with the cast and crew is hard to describe, and imagine... when you finish your job each night, an audience claps for you. Sometimes they stand, and sometimes they cheer. I mean, come on... who wouldn't love to end their workdays being showered with love by an entire theater of strangers???