A lead­ing lady tells us how she stays healthy for a big pro­duc­tion

Weight Watchers Magazine (Australia) - - Contents -

Amy Leh­pamer has been tread­ing the boards for quite a few years, star­ring in hit mu­si­cals such as Rock of Ages and The Sound of Mu­sic, and is set to play the role of Grammy Award­win­ning song­writer Cyn­thia Weil in Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal.

As she pre­pares to take on such a big role in a de­mand­ing eight-shows-a-week sched­ule, she shares what it takes to get ready for open­ing night, and how im­por­tant eat­ing well, feel­ing good and stay­ing fit are when it comes to per­form­ing at your best.

What have been some of your ca­reer high­lights to date?

I get very at­tached to ev­ery show I’m in, so this is a tricky one to an­swer. Dir­ty­rot­ten Scoundrels and Rock­ofages were my first lead­ing roles, so they will al­ways be spe­cial. Shanewarne:themu­si­cal

was an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to work on new Australian mu­si­cal theatre. In Once I got to sing and act and play the vi­o­lin with an extraordinary group of per­form­ers. Ev­ery­thing to do with Th­e­sound­of­mu­sic was an ac­tual dream come true. In Dusty I got to play a woman, Dusty Spring­field, whose voice I have idolised my whole life. And one thing I’m par­tic­u­larly proud of is the com­edy web se­ries I made for the ABC called Don­natele­grams.

You’ve men­tioned in the past that Julie An­drews is a mu­si­cal idol of yours. What was it like to then play Maria in The Sound of Mu­sic Australian tour last year? Like so many, I grew up idol­is­ing Julie An­drews as Maria and Mary Pop­pins. The Sound­of­mu­sic was prac­ti­cally a babysitter for me as a child - it had me trans­fixed ev­ery time - and the role of Maria was my dream role. I found it sur­real that I got to sing those songs and tell that beloved story ev­ery night; it was a real priv­i­lege.

Tell us a bit about the role you’ll be play­ing in Beau­ti­ful. The show fo­cuses on and cel­e­brates Ca­role King’s ca­reer and suc­cess in the 1960s and ’70s, and I’m play­ing Cyn­thia Weil. She’s a plucky, de­ter­mined young woman with a pas­sion for lyric writ­ing. In the mu­si­cal, we see Cyn­thia work­ing with and fall­ing for her writ­ing part­ner, Barry Mann. She strikes up a strong friend­ship with Ca­role King, too. They be­come each other’s sound­ing boards as they nav­i­gate the ups and downs of life and love as work­ing, cre­ative women in the 60s.

It must be in­cred­i­ble to play the part of some­one as in­flu­en­tial in the mu­sic in­dus­try as Cyn­thia Weil. Peo­ple might not in­stantly know her name, but most peo­ple would eas­ily recog­nise her hits. Ab­so­lutely! It’s daunt­ing to play some­one real, but it’s an hon­our. She has co-penned so many in­cred­i­ble songs – such as You’velost­that­lovin’feel­ing, We’ve­g­ot­tagetout­ofthis Place and Satur­daynigh­tat The­movies. To know just how many peo­ple have con­nected with her mu­sic over the years, that’s an extraordinary le­gacy. And I love how driven and in­de­pen­dent she is. It’s won­der­ful that her story is be­ing told along­side Ca­role’s.

What are you most look­ing for­ward to about star­ring in Beau­ti­ful? I adore the mu­sic! It’s such a joy to hear and it’s per­formed so faith­fully to the era. The ’60s and ’70s were full of so much colour and sounds that were in­cred­i­bly rev­o­lu­tion­ary. It will be ex­cit­ing to be trans­ported to that time ev­ery night.

How do you pre­pare for a big run of shows – do you think phys­i­cal fit­ness is im­por­tant? Phys­i­cal and vo­cal fit­ness is vi­tal. Each show has its own de­mands, and the re­hearsal pe­riod goes some way to pre­par­ing you for the in­ten­sity of the eight-shows-a-week sched­ule. But it’s best to be as fit and ready as pos­si­ble be­fore re­hearsals even be­gin so the phys­i­cal load isn’t a com­plete shock to the sys­tem. I have singing lessons in the lead-up to re­hearsals to make sure the ma­te­rial sits well in my voice, and I make sure my car­dio fit­ness is strong so I can han­dle the long, phys­i­cal days. Phys­i­cal and men­tal stamina is very im­por­tant and be­ing ac­tive helps my fo­cus a lot.

On per­for­mance days, what would your typ­i­cal rou­tine be? I’m sure eat­ing well and getting lots of good rest is im­por­tant. I’m def­i­nitely not up with the birds, that’s for sure! And when I’m do­ing a show, my wak­ing hours tend to be on the silent side. Vo­cal rest is very im­por­tant, and in gen­eral it’s im­por­tant to be mind­ful to con­serve en­ergy for the show. I med­i­tate once or twice a day, and I tend to have my big­gest meal at around brunch/lunch time, with lighter meals be­fore and af­ter the show. I don’t avoid any spe­cific foods, but I’m mind­ful of my sugar and caf­feine in­take as they can give me an un­wanted spike in en­ergy. In gen­eral, I lead a quiet ex­is­tence out­side the theatre!

Do you have any tips or tricks for stay­ing cen­tred and calm on the day of a big event or per­for­mance, such as open­ing night? I’ve been med­i­tat­ing con­sis­tently for the past two and a half years, and I’ve found that it’s helped me level out a lot when the pres­sure is on. That said, nerves al­ways catch me by sur­prise and are in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful. I’ve found it im­pos­si­ble to fight them com­pletely. I try to ac­cept that they’re a part of it all, fo­cus on my breath­ing and trust in my prepa­ra­tion.

Do you get ner­vous be­fore a show? And if so, how do you over­come it? Ab­so­lutely. It does get eas­ier as a sea­son goes on, though. A good warm-up tends to clear away jit­ters. Mov­ing my body calmly, breath­ing and getting my voice cen­tred and clear all help. If I feel fo­cused, I feel less ner­vous.

Is there anything you do to re­ward your­self af­ter a suc­cess­ful run of shows? I’ve re­cently got the bug for home dec­o­ra­tion, so a piece of art or a rug or some kitchen­ware tends to be my treat. We per­form­ers travel around a lot, and hav­ing a base and sense of home can be a relief when you’re liv­ing out of a suit­case. It’s lovely to find some­thing for my home that af­firms that.

“It’s best to be as fit and ready as pos­si­ble be­fore re­hearsals even be­gin so it isn’t a shock.”

Amy as Dusty Spring­field in the mu­si­cal, Dusty and Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal, be­low.

Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal (right) is a Broad­way hit show. It be­gins its Australian run at the Syd­ney Lyric Theatre from Septem­ber 17. For more in­for­ma­tion and to book tick­ets for the show, go to beau­ti­ful­mu­si­cal.com.au

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