Tuesday, May 4, 2010

ACTOR TIPS: Surviving a musical theatre performance when you have a cold.

Recently I was doing a musical here in Toronto, and I developed a cold in my final week of the run. Colds and flus make performing way less fun than it should be, but there are ways to deal with them - and deal with them we must! Here's how I get through the inevitability of getting sick while doing a run:

1. Sleep
This goes in the "duh" category. You know that sleep is important at all times, but especially when your body is trying to heal, right? So try to get as much sleep as possible before each show. If you need help with that, I would like to introduce you to my friends Neo Citran and NyQuil.

2. Oil of Oregano
Buy some oil of oregano (a natural antiobiotic) at the local health food store (or even some Shoppers Drugmart locations) and take 4 drops, three times a day. You can just put it under your tongue, or have it with water or juice. It does wonders for me.

3. Drink water.
When I'm sick, I make sure to have water bottles strategically placed in several places backstage. I find that if I make sure to lubricate my throat as often as possible, I'm way less likely to go into a coughing fit. Don't let your throat get dry.

4. Lozenges
Placing lozenges in several places backstage, and maybe in a pocket partially unwrapped (in case you have a coughing emergency on stage) is never a bad idea.

5. Green tea with honey.
A warm drink can be very soothing, but I find that black tea gives me a scratchy throat. Green tea with honey is just the ticket.

6. Breathe through your nose.
Especially if you are doing a musical, try breathing through your nose so your throat doesn't dry out as fast.

7. Pace yourself.
Save your energy for the show. Even having an animated discussion with another actor in the green room can zap your energy when you're sick, so try finding a quiet space where you can chill out.

8. Get to know your voice.
When you're sick, you may have to adjust the way you sing. Get to know your voice and what it needs (you don't want to rock your high belt if you know that your cold is going to cause your voice to crack). Maybe when you're sick you need to use your head voice more, or give more air support. Everyone's different, so get to know how you operate.

9. Prescription cough syrup.
Sometimes you have to break out the big guns. When I was working at The Grand last fall I had a cough that just wouldn't go away. The doctor at the local walk-in clinic gave me a prescription for cough syrup with codeine and it made my cough disappear completely. Kind of like magic.

10. Sour Kids
Sucking on a few Sour Kids (or any kind of sour, chewy candy) is a great way to lubricate your throat. Seriously - a doctor told me that!

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