By Skylar Raye Noyes
J’adore le Paramour! I recently went to see Paramour on Broadway and the show was incredible! It is a blend of Cirque du Soleil’s signature acrobatic high flying adventures and stunts, and Broadways beautiful story telling. The show amazed the audience with gorgeous costumes, choreography, and music. Watching the acrobatics was definitely a highlight of the musical. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched performers soar and flip through the air. They made it look effortless! One of the most memorable stunts in the show was when a pair of twins each grabbed onto a rope with one hand and flew above the audience in unison. You could feel the tension in the theater as the audience fixated their eyes on the acrobats. With one false move they could have lost grasp of the rope and fallen into the audience’s laps! I was mesmerized while watching them soar like birds throughout the theater.
Another showstopping stunt in Paramour was when there was a large seesaw in the middle of the stage and one acrobat would jump onto one end of the seesaw, causing the acrobat on the opposite end to soar high into the air. While in the air, the acrobat flipped what seemed like a thousand times! You certainly cannot have a fear of heights to perform these stunts!
Before the show I had the opportunity to interview one of the stars, Paramour’s Sarah Meahl. Sarah played Gina in the show! It’s always a magical feeling when you are in the presence of a Broadway performer as talented, beautiful, and kind as Sarah. She was so gracious to meet with me and share her experiences as a professional dancer and Broadway performer with our readers. During our interview I also got to witness the show’s troupe of autonomous flying robots being tested on the stage! It was cool to get a behind the scenes sneak peek at some of the magic I would later see in the show!
Here is what Sarah had to share with our Camp Broadway readers….
At what age did you start dancing and how did your love of dance lead to a career on Broadway?
“I started dancing when I was 2 and a half. My mom put me in dance class because I begged! I was not potty trained yet, so she said the deal is that if you be a big girl, you can take dance class, so that was like part of my training. I always loved to dance so much that it was never a question that I wanted to do that. I had this awesome dance teacher who worked at Disney and she told me that she did this professionally as a job. That’s when all these things opened up for me and I realized I can do this professionally, I want to work at Disney! And then she said well you can work at Disney, or you could also go to New York; you could be on Broadway. And that’s how I found out. So ever since that was presented to me, at the age of eight, I wanted that.”
When you were a teenager, did you ever believe you would be on Broadway someday?
“Yes, I thought I could. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I wanted it to happen, and I thought I could do it. I wanted to put myself in all the right classes and have the right training so that that could be a possibility for me.”
When did you decide to audition for Broadway and what was the motivating factor that led you to go for it?
“I auditioned for Broadway my first time when I was nineteen. I was in college and I went on my spring break to New York. I had older friends from college who already lived in New York City, so I stayed with them. I auditioned for an equity chorus call but I didn’t have my equity card. It was for Chicago. I also auditioned for Nice Work If You Can Get It when I was twenty-one. Those were the ones I could go to and I was nervous, but I also was confident because I knew how to audition because I went to school for that, so I was ready. I felt ready. I came on a bus from Pittsburgh and I stayed with my friend and made sure I was there on time. I got there early! I eventually moved to New York City which was really far away from my family. When you make a lifestyle change and you move so far away, it becomes a goal. Everything before that was fun and I got to dance and this was a step up, but I guess ultimately the thing that helped me be motivated was my love for it. I want to create! Also, I had an awesome mom who was really supportive and never pushed me, but never backed me away from it. She just was happy for me and encouraged me to do it and believed in me. She told me you can do anything if you believe in yourself, and so I felt confident enough because of what she told me.”
What’s your favorite part about being on Broadway?
“The people. Everyone here, in every show, everyone has a story to tell. And that’s what we do; we tell stories! I love it because a lot of people in the business were made fun of as kids; they were creative or different. Theatre is a community where everyone is loved and accepted. I’m surrounded by people who love to do what I do: sing, dance, and perform. Whether they’re walking on their hands, dancing, or singing their faces off! They all had a really common goal. They put in hard work, so they all have good work ethic. And most of them have been estranged to some extent, so they’re very loving and open. They’re open to new experiences or different lifestyles because in New York that’s what we do, we have different lifestyles than everyone else. So I think I love the people because the people are so giving of themselves and tell their story. They’re so lovely, open, and wonderful, and I want to be around those people everyday. I want to be around awesome people everyday and that’s what I get here! I am around cool people who work hard and have fought for something, and not everyone can say that they have done that. That’s my favorite thing, but of course I also love the music, the lights, the costumes, the glitter, the makeup, and the eyelashes!!!”
Doing eight shows a week, how do you keep up the energy and enthusiasm for each performance?
“For energy I get enough sleep, eat healthy, and eat a lot of protein. I also do things other than dancing. I take yoga and I will go to a workout class because a body in motion stays in motion. So I stay in motion and I eat healthy. I think it is very important that you do the same show every night, and you give the same amount of energy. Sometimes I get bored though because I have done 400 performances. Every performance is different; there’s always something that keeps you on your toes. I like to give each performance an intention, so that maybe it inspires me to say something with a new idea. I like to dedicate a performance to someone. If I get really bored, I will think about my Grandpa. It will make me refind why I love it and I think about doing it for someone who I wish could see it. Or this one’s for my best friend, so I’m going to say this line extra special today because I think it’s something that she would love! I also think it is important to really remember when you have nothing left and you’re just bored and don’t want to go on and do the same counts of eight, or say the same thing over and over just get back to the story you were trying to tell like where are you going, where have you been, what does your character want, what do I want people in this theatre to leave with. Just remind yourself of those questions and it will help inspire you to do the scene to the best way you can!”
What advice do you have for teenagers whose dream is to be on Broadway?
“Be kind! You never know what someone’s going through and it is hard to do sometimes in theatre. You have to be a team; you have to work together, and that can be difficult. Every person I’ve met and every experience I’ve had in my professional career, and even before, in youth theatre, every person and experience has led me to the next. Every job has given me networking to get me to my next job. It is a small world, every person and every experience leads you to the next, never think this is too small of a job for me. I was a hostess and that experience gave me what I needed to to play a certain character. I am so happy that I had this friend named Katie that taught me how to baton twirl during recess because I have baton twirled in three or four shows.
Everything is an experience which brings you to the next. You never know, every experience that you have had in your life will be used one day in your life and it all happens for a reason so just experience them and savor them and remember them because you use every person you’ve met. I know my character Gina is modeled after my best friends mom! Who knew I was going to play a character that reminded me of my best friends mom? I’d be like what would Nancy do? Every person you meet, every experience you can use towards theatre, but the most important thing I was going to say is hang around people who inspire you, that’s the number one thing! Surround yourself with people you admire, people you want to emulate, successful people, happy happy people! I’ve noticed that my group of friends that I have from high school and college and beyond, those tiny little groups of people that I’ve loved have risen with me because we all hold each other accountable for the good work we are doing. So I think that is really important! If you have a goal and a dream and it’s something you can’t survive without, pursue it and be relentless but be kind and usually the two, if you are kind people want to work with you. You are likable. Above anything else before “cast-ability” or talent comes do I want to work with that person, then you have a job. I know people who are so talented joyous and they bring teamwork, spirit and happiness … its Broadway, it can be hard, really hard … and you need those people to bring up the moral. Be a person who you would want to hang out with!”
Thank you to Sarah for granting this interview and offering such inspiring advice to our young readers. These are words to live and love by! She truly is a special person, beautiful inside and out. After saying goodbye to Paramour, Sarah found a new l’amour and has said hello to Hello Dolly, where she is now part of the cast! Good things happen to good people; wishing you all the successes you deserve as you continue to pursue your Broadway dreams!