When you see the word “Swing” after a Broadway cast member’s name, have you ever wondered exactly what the job involves? Broadway.com asked Michael Fatica, an original cast member (and now Dance Captain) at the hit musical Newsies, to tell us everything a fan needs to know about these do-it-all cast members. Below, the tireless young pro shares 10 fascinating facts about a job that’s crucial to the success of any musical.
1. Swings Are Always Ready to Go.
In a show like Newsies, the job of a swing is to arrive at the theater every day, ready to perform at a moment’s notice any of the tracks (roles) that he or she covers. A swing is offstage unless he or she is filling in for one of the assigned tracks. We have three swings, plus our amazing vacation swing, who share the load. Oh, and the Newsies swings cover 14 tracks each!
2. Swings Are Verrrry Versatile.
What could be better than playing TWO roles on Broadway in a single day? On a two-show day, sometimes a swing has to play a different part in each performance. Your mind can become a little cloudy after that second one…
3. Swings Can Do Tricks.
We had a day in rehearsals called Fireworks, or Circus McGurkus, where each guy got to show the dance team their best "tricks" (a.k.a. tumbling, leaps and turns). While as a swing that was a daunting day, I learned so many AWESOME things from these freakishly talented guys.
4. Swings Have a Secret Language.
The swings of Newsies have a vernacular all our own that we've basically created to talk through sections very quickly. If you ever hear one of us saying, "You get the goods from Nun 1 at the corner of T2B,” we're not being secret agents, I promise. Most of the company has no idea what we're talking about, so you aren't alone!
5. Swings Pursue Interesting Hobbies.
As a Dance Captain, it is my job to watch the show and make sure it is staying true to our creative team's vision. However, swings tend to take on some interesting side projects to keep our minds working when not onstage. Offstage hobbies include, but are not limited to: crochet, drawing, building clocks and occasionally buying shoes.
6. Swings Know Everybody in the Cast.
One of the cool perks of being a Dance Captain is helping teach new additions to the show. We get three weeks to get to know these new guys one on one, as well as see them grow into Newsies in front of our eyes. It is an amazing transformation to witness.
7. Swings Get to Watch!
Have you ever acted in a show and wished you could see it from the audience? Swings get to see it from every angle. If you're at the Nederlander Theatre and see someone in the back of the house with a notepad, it's probably one of us. It's so invigorating to watch the audience, especially an aspiring actor or really little tyke, experience Newsies for the first time. It recharges me and gets me excited to go on again.
8. Swings Put Their Stamp on Each Performance.
Newsies’ choreography is built for each specific dancer in the show. When we swing on, there are certain solo moments in which we are able to throw in our own favorite trick, something that really shows off our abilities. Nothing feels better than throwing a trick you feel amazing doing.
9. Swings Love the “Fansies” (and Vice Versa).
I have to include a special shout out to the "Fansies," a.k.a. our show's biggest supporters. A swing can sometimes feel, for lack of a better phrase, stuck in the wings when it comes to audience recognition. The “Fansies” have embraced us and been just as supportive of our careers, and I am so very appreciative. Thanks, you guys!
10. Swings Are a Brotherhood.
Having swung this show, knowing every detail involved in these tracks, I can no longer watch any Broadway musical and not appreciate what its swings have to do. It really is a Brotherhood (or Sisterhood) of Swingdom! I applaud anyone who is privileged enough to do it, and I know that I am a smarter and better performer because of my experience as a swing.