Jonalyn is the closest thing I’ve found to a real life Disney Princess! She is pure sweetness with a quiet confidence that no doubt led to her quick success right out of school. We had such a fun photo shoot which happened to be scheduled on one of the worst days of weather in NYC…sooo we went into the subway and to a fried chicken restaurant! haha. It was so fun hearing about her swift entry into the broadway world and how she’s making her mark. Even her coloring pages are famous on The Great White Way. 😉 Keep an eye on this Broadway Baby (always the youngster in her casts) because she couldn’t be more Fit for Broadway!
BIOGRAPHY: Hellooo everyone! I’m Jonalyn and am originally from LA. I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in musical theatre this past May and made my Broadway Debut as a swing in Bullets Over Broadway! Now I’m swinging in Honeymoon In Vegas and having the best time. I love everything pink, princess, and Disney. I’m always coloring in Disney coloring books and My happy place is in tap class. So excited to be a part of the amazing #FFB blog! One of my theatre geek dreams coming true!Q: What is the most physically challenging part of performing?
A: It all really depends on what you’re doing. When you’re in the show, you tend to build up stamina for the movement you’re doing. I’ve done 42nd street 4 times regionally, and that show NEVER stops for the ensemble. Once you run the show a couple times, your body just gets on that horse and runs it until the end. For me, the hardest thing I find is getting up the energy to just start. Bullets was the same way, you were shot out of a canon; and if you weren’t prepared, you felt you were going to throw up after the first number.
In other shows, the ensemble will have one number, a significant break, and then another big number. For me, those shows are harder, because you have to get your own energy up multiple times a show.
As a swing, everything is different. You never get the chance to build up stamina. So, especially if you’re on for more than one show, just getting through the show seems impossible sometimes. Even your breaks are filled with activity as you look up what comes next and get ready. In all these situations, I find the thought in my head of “oh god, how am I going to make it through the end of this number?” And the best thing you can do is just take a huge breath and keep going. Breathing is literally the key to everything.
Q: Has your background in dance influenced how you view fitness?
A: Definitely. I’ve always hated running, and I just can’t go to a gym and workout. Growing up I would go to like, 6 dance classes a week at least, and so now I try a mix of dance classes and fitness classes to have the same type of workout feel. As a dancer in this modern world you have to keep up your technique as well as your body. For me, dance classes alone won’t do that, and fitness classes alone won’t either. I have to have a mixture of both to keep up with my dance, and have the body I want.
Also, as a dancer I think you easily push yourself harder in all classes thinking “well I’m a dancer, I should be able to do this no problem.” Unfortunately, that’s not always true, but it does give me a great mindset to approach classes so that I don’t give up halfway through or only half-ass it.Q: How do you keep your voice healthy?
A: So many ways. 1. I always sleep with a warm steam humidifier. It literally saves my life. Especially in the winter when the air is dry and the heat inside takes all the moisture. 2. I steam out in the shower. I love taking a hot shower and letting the steam fill up the bathroom. I also do some gentle vocal warm ups every morning in the shower. Some little lip trills and humming to get my voice awake in the morning helps so much. Then I’m ready for whatever the day might bring. 3. The moment I feel anything funky with my throat I’ll drink/gargle warm water with Apple cider vinegar. I SWEAR by this stuff. Most people can’t stand the taste, so gargle it. But I’ve gotten so used to it that some warm water with lemon, honey, and apple cider vinegar is the perfect concoction when I’m feeling under the weather. If you still can’t stand the taste, throw in a throat coat or licorice tea bag!
And of course, drinking water always helps!
Q: Do you follow a specific diet?
A: Not really. I do have some standard snacks/meals that I basically eat every day. I always have a Greek yogurt with granola in the morning (in the summer I add fresh berries!) I love snacking on red peppers, blueberries, hard-boiled eggs, and bananas with almond butter. For any other meal, the most important thing I look for is that it has protein! As a performer I think it’s so important to get as much protein as you can to make sure your body has the energy and nutrients to do what you’re asking of it. I also don’t eat red meat, so grilled chicken breast or turkey sausage are my go tos!
Q: What is your favorite energy-boosting snack/meal?
A: I guess I kind of already answered this, but for energy, my go-tos are the banana with almond butter or hard-boiled eggs. When I’m in rehearsals I love making smoothies with my nutri-bullet. Drinking one of those throughout the day helps me stay focused and energized when you’re going from 10-6. I usually put a ton of spinach, a banana, an apple, Greek yogurt, and some frozen berries to make the most delicious smoothie.
Q: What is your favorite late night snack after performances?
A: I usually have a glass of wine and a bag of light, no butter popcorn. Recently I’ve been trying to get away from the bag of popcorn with something a little more nutritious like roasted Brussels sprouts or a pepper.
Q: What is your best advice/strategies to fight fatigue?
A: Sleep is really important to me. When I was younger I would push myself too much and then I would hit a point where I would sit down and practically fall asleep at the dinner table. I always try to get at least 7 hours, and to always start my day off with a healthy breakfast. Nothing makes me more tired than trying to get through any part of my day with the necessary amount of fuel.
Another thing that I think helps me fight fatigue, is being around people who make you excited about life. Nothing wakes me up more than being around my friends or having fun in the dressing room or backstage. It helps keep my energy up when I’m performing.
Q: What is your best advice for stage confidence?
A: BREATHE. I never had much stage fright until I became a swing. But the best thing I can do is take a nice deep, slow breath to calm my nerves. I also have a little motto that helps me through any tough times: “everything is going to be fine, because not being fine is not an option.” Basically, if you give yourself no other option but success & confidence, that’s what will happen.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: My friends and the people I work with. I think if you’re not inspired by the people around you, then you’re not really around the right people. Actually, the first time I can really remember being inspired by someone was when I was 16. I was in a production of 42nd st., and I thought the girl who was playing Peggy was amazing. She was an incredible worker, performer, and person. She radiated energy and I remember thinking “I want to live my life like she lives hers.” That girl was none other than Cassie Silva. And she still inspires me today! (She also probably has no idea too).I’m super inspired by the other girls from Bullets as well. A lot of times I’ll meet someone and think “wow, I really love this about you and how you live your life. I’m going to try and live my life that kind of way too.” I think it’s the best way I’ve learned to grow and how I’ve come to love myself as I change and overcome struggles.
Q: How does your health affect your performance abilities?
A: How does it not?! You have to know how to keep your body healthy enough to perform. It’s also really important to know when you can push through it, and when you’re going to hurt yourself. Nothing is ever worth creating a long-term injury. You have to know how YOU take care of yourself, and what works best, and fastest.
Q: Tips on finding the time to stay physically/vocally fit?
A: You just have to find it. And this is something that’s very new to me. I’m the biggest culprit of saying I didn’t have time to do something, when I actually just watched TV for 4 hours. In college, that was acceptable, and kind of the norm. Now, I’m learning to love the feeling of running around and going to different classes and getting lots of things done in a day. You also have to know that the classes don’t stop when you graduate. You have to find a vocal coach you like, dance classes, acting classes, fitness classes and everything in between. If you’re truly passionate about what you do, you’ll find the time.
Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: Everyone has their own path, but nowadays, I think it is so so so super important to go to college for theatre/musical theatre. When I graduated high school I thought I had all my s**t together, then I went to Syracuse and realized that I had SO much more to learn. The BFA programs that exist now are so amazing. 4 years where you get to hone in on your craft and work; on all the facets of yourself and the art that you can and will make. It sets you up with a community and connections that will last a lifetime. It’s also a great place to find out who you are as an adult and an artist. Not to say that I think I’m anywhere close to really being an adult, but I’m getting there. Also, if you can survive through the grueling schedule and workload you get in a conservatory-style musical theatre major, you can make it through anything.
It’s also important to really do your work. Never think you’re better than the work that is required. You have to be super prepared, and I’ve seen so many people say “yeah, I went over the song/dance/sides once, I’ll be fine.” I believe that everything is 80% work and 20% luck. You also have to be open to everything. Another credit on your resume never hurt anyone, and who knows. That random ensemble member from the non-eq show you did in a barn could end up being the next big Broadway choreographer. Which leads me to my final note of advice: be nice to everyone! There’s never a good enough reason to be outright rude or mean to anyone. Be and live Happy! It’s what Princess Aurora would want you to do.