You know when the universe helps you collide with people who vibe on your exact wavelength… well, that happened with Kathryn. I feel so grateful for the FFB interviews that have turned into amazing bonds of friendship and definitely felt the seed planted when I first met Kathryn. She’s a serious sunbeam and sharing with an open heart today about her journey to Broadway. When I read through her feature interview, I immediately thought of a quote from Daring Greatly, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” How incredibly courageous it is to be seen and share the whole journey, not just the highlight reel. Kathryn, thank you for being an immediate friend, an open heart, and for sharing the kind of courage it takes to be Fit for Broadway.
NOTE FROM KATHRYN: Hi guys, Kathryn here! I’m so excited to be joining in the conversation of all things health and Broadway with Jane (my total long-time girl crush). I’ve been a fan and a follower of this blog since the very beginning so wearing the purple tank for the first time was magical – a dream come true! I’m currently in Anastasia over at the Broadhurst Theatre, and I feel SO fortunate to be doing what I love, surrounded by the coolest and best peeps on Broadway (no joke). I’m a peanut butter addict, a book nerd, and a salsa snob, thanks to my Texas roots. I have a sweet pup named Ella, the cutest rabbit named Hamlet, and a stud of a boyfriend named Matt – they all give me endless cuddles, so I think I’ll keep them :).
Q: Kathryn! We are cut from the same or sisters from another life. 🙂 I’m so excited to be sharing your Fit for Broadway journey today! Can we start from the beginning… What’s been your journey to Broadway?
A: My journey is a little different – I actually grew up overseas in the Solomon Islands, a beautiful small chain of islands in the South Pacific. My parents worked as missionaries, and we lived in a small hut made of bamboo without running water, spoke the local language of Cheke Holo, and ate fish that we caught fresh from the ocean. My only exposure to dance as a kid was a VHS beginner ballet tape that my mom bought for me – I used to watch it on repeat and practice using the back of a kitchen chair as my “barre”. I loved it. However, I attribute my love for theatre and art to the culture of the Solomon Islands – it’s a culture that’s rooted in story-telling, and they use art as a means of passing down history, sharing important stories for the next generation, and for celebrations with extravagant dances by women in grass skirts and men playing homemade instruments called pan pipes. In church they sing in 4 part harmony, not because anyone has taught them how but because they naturally find the harmony. Art in the form of sharing and communication is even built into their daily lives – after dinner every night they “story” with each other for hours – sharing what happened that day and how they feel about it. Needless to say, I think the idea of sharing stories was put in my heart from the very beginning (at the ripe old age of 5 weeks!) 🙂
When I was in elementary school, my family moved to Dallas, Texas and I auditioned for a local community theatre (shout out to FMT!) as a side hobby, and was instantly hooked. I found a family there, and a safe place to learn and grow. However, it was still very much a hobby for me, something I did on the side in addition to school and sports. I started to get really serious about theatre junior year of high school when I realized the only CDs I was listening to in the car were original broadway cast recordings, and I was prioritizing everything in my life around being in shows, making sure my schedule allowed for it. I used to come home from rehearsal and go straight to youtube where I watched Natalie Weiss sing “Quiet” on repeat. That’s when you know the obsession is real. I went to college at CCM for Musical Theatre and was able to get really serious about developing my skill set and figuring out who I am not only as an artist, but as a person. I’m so so thankful for the teaching I got there (and the family of bearcats that are my forever friends)! I moved to NYC in 2013 after graduating, and I’ve been in the professional biz ever since.
Q: How have health and fitness been a part of your journey as a performer?
A: I grew up playing sports and my family has always enjoyed being active (my superhero dad runs marathons!), so fitness has always been a huge part of my life. However, I was always encouraged to exercise, even at a young age, because it feels good to move, not because there is an ideal body goal at the end of the rainbow or the finish line. I’m so thankful this was the message of my childhood. My parents are my true inspiration. They’ll get up and run 4 miles in the morning and then grab an ice cream cone on the way home because, #balance. They do it because they enjoy it, not because they feel pressure to look a certain way or be a certain size. I quickly realized when I started to get serious about theatre that singing, dancing, and acting at the same time requires a lot of stamina, and I learned that keeping my body in shape helps me on those two-show days when energy is lacking! Exercising regularly also helps keep my brain in good health (shout out to yoga for the healing powers of meditation and mindfulness!), and I’ve found it to be such a great way to connect with my heart and check in with myself about how I’m doing. It keeps me sane.
Q: Is there an instance that stands out in your career when you realized the importance of being “Fit for Broadway”, however you define that lifestyle.
A: In the past few years I’ve come to understand, on a personal level, the importance of mental health and being mentally fit for Broadway. I hit a low a few years ago when I found myself depressed and extremely unmotivated – I was working in a restaurant at night and babysitting during the day (those late hours are not for the faint of heart! Mad respect for anyone who’s doing that right now), and I was getting up for auditions early in the morning. I’d find myself in final callbacks for things, but was never the one chosen in the end. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, balancing a crazy schedule of 3 jobs and was hardly seeing my friends or carving out any time for myself in my daily schedule. I found I was constantly comparing where I was in my career to where my friends were in their careers who had already booked Broadway and national tours. I was beating myself up for not working hard enough, for not being talented enough, for thinking I could do this when I really couldn’t. etc. I let that inner voice of negativity win and it consumed me. It got to a point where I was having suicidal thoughts. When I hit that low there was no choice but to take a serious step back. I went home to Texas for a few weeks, started medication, and began talking to a therapist on the regular. Thanks to my great support system (shout out to the best parents, boyfriend and my awesome therapist!), I re-disocvered myself, my passion for theatre, and why I wanted to do it in first place. Perspective is an awesome tool. Once I started giving myself grace and permission to be imperfect and messy sometimes, I found my inner strength and joy. This foundation has helped me a lot with being a swing on Broadway – we’re constantly thrown into stressful situations, and I’ve learned that being mentally fit is the most important thing I can do for myself, not only for my job, but for my every day life as well.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for vocal health?
- Sleep! I think it’s easy to overlook, but I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of being well-rested. I aim for 7-8 hours every night and it really makes a difference in my vocal health.
- Lots and lots of water! Hydration station.
- Whenever I’m starting to feel sick, I love shots of ginger to kick the immune system into gear, and I’ve found a few drops of oil of oregano diluted with water really clears the junk out! (learned that trick from Victoria Clark!)
Q: Any other holistic practices to stay #BalancedOnBroadway?
A: I find that yoga and meditation, specifically, really help me stay grounded and balanced. I also really enjoy time outside – it’s hard to go from the island jungle to the concrete jungle (haha!) but I’ve found that any chance to be around grass and nature really helps me connect with myself, and it gives me focus for the day.
Q: Fill in the blanks…
A: The best part of working on Broadway is…. the people! Show people really are the best people, and I’m constantly humbled to be around the most kind, hard-working, talented people in the business. Their dedication to the craft is inspiring, but most importantly – they become family! You pretty much live at the theatre when you’re in a Broadway show, so you start to develop a familial lifestyle with each other (we call it the Broadway bunker). It’s so wonderful to do life together. In our show, we love our fire escape potlucks and Saturday Night on Broadway chill times.
The most challenging part of working on Broadway is… The schedule. Sometimes it can be really demanding, especially when you’re a swing and/or an understudy and have rehearsals during the day every week on top of 8 shows and you’re also auditioning for other shows, doing workshops, readings, etc. Late nights can take their toll on the body, and it can be difficult to take off for holidays and get back home to see your family or go to weddings of friends and family since they’re mostly on weekends, and our day off typically falls on a Monday.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: I am inspired by passion and compassion. Honestly, my parents are huge inspirations for me. They pursued their passions and it took them all the way across the world, away from everything they ever knew. Bravery and courage are their middle names, and I’m so thankful to have had them as role models my entire life. I’m also inspired by people who give of themselves freely, demonstrating compassion without reserve. I strive to live generously.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring performers who have their sights set on Broadway?
A: Dream big! Never underestimate the power of a dream, but remember that it’s not a sprint, but rather a marathon! It’s really easy to get caught up in the race, but everyone’s journey is unique. You aren’t competing against anyone else or trying to beat the clock. Sometimes in moments of uncertainty we discover what we’re really made of and it carries us through every season of our lives. Show up for those open calls, be kind to everyone you meet, and embrace who you are/trust in your abilities. Because you rock!
Q: #BEforBroadwayMoment – “BROADWAY INSPIRES ME TO BE authentic.”
A: There’s only one you. It’s really easy in this biz to compare yourself to others, to wish you could be more like so-and-so, have their career, have their voice, their body, etc. But the truth is – there’s only one you. And YOU are enough. More than enough — you are fantastic! It’s a hard lesson to learn and it’s one I’m still re-learning every day, but I’m pursuing genuine authenticity, and it’s a journey I’m thankful to be on.
You can find me on Instagram:@kathryn_boswell ! Let’s be insta-friends!