3 PM: A Gypsy Prepares

News   3 PM: A Gypsy Prepares
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So how does a Broadway gypsy start opening night? A mixture of the glamorous and the mundane. Jack Hayes, a dancer in the chorus of Steel Pier woke up early after just a few hours of sleep. Unlike the old days of Broadway, when critics came opening night, the reviewers now attend the last few previews, partly so they can take their time writing reviews. So Hayes has been literally on his toes for the past three days and is looking forward to napping Friday afternoon.

Opening night has become more of a party for the cast and their families, and Hayes is not exception. He's hosting his sister, who is helping him through last-minute nerves by talking about anything -- except the show.

This is his third opening night, the others having been Beauty and the Beast (in which he originated the role of the pepper shaker) and the revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

"This show has so much more a personal feeling than the other shows," he said. "I started in the workshop in June [1996] and the whole company has put such an investment of themselves. The producers and the writers are some of the most extraordinary people I've ever worked with. Add to that the feeling that it's opening night, and it gives you a little more of the flutters." Hayes has a set schedule that he uses to prepare for Steel Pier performances. "I always do exactly the same things in the same order: warm up, get my mike, then the hair people, then makeup."

The warm-up is crucial on this show, Hayes said. "The show opens with a bang, right off the top, so you have to be ready from the get-go. I do a modified barre routine, with stretches and sit-ups."

Hayes said he tries always to be first backstage to go over a particularly tricky step from the opening number. "It's this circular tap step that I do around the girl. It's fast and furious and you have to be concentrated to do it. And it comes out of nowhere. So I always do it backstage to make sure I have it."

Then, as the overture plays, there is one last ritual: "I always hold the hand of my partner, Liz Mills, and we walk on stage together.

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