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How Broadway performers stay fit while staying home

As Broadway dancers and performers remain sidelined at home, many have been trying to maintain the required stamina and fitness required for their eventual return to the theater.

The Broadway cast of "Six" performing during the show's Chicago run. (Photo: Liz Lauren)

As Broadway dancers and performers remain sidelined at home, many have been trying to maintain the required stamina and fitness required for their eventual return to the theater.

Though most have not been rehearsing their full routines, these actors have been creating their own at-home workouts to mimic the demands of performing eight times a week. Many performers anticipate it will be months before they return, but they want to be ready when the official word is given.

The official reopening date of Broadway theaters remains April 13; however, that date is expected to shift after guidance from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and data from evolving case models. Actors from “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Six” and “Tina” said they all expect their shows to return, but have received no official word about the end of the shutdown.

“At this moment, we don’t know of an exact date of when we will be returning, but as far as I know, we are expected to come back,” said Matt Manuel, who plays David Ruffin in “Ain’t Too Proud.”

As they wait, the cast members of “Six” have taken to jump-roping to stay in shape and maintain the stamina needed for the show. Mallory Maedke, “Six’s” dance captain and an alternate, jump-roped for the first time in six months when the shutdown began, adding it among the virtual Cize dance fitness classes she now takes from her family’s home in the Midwest.

“Today I got up to 1,000 reps, my legs might fall right off my body tomorrow,” Maedke wrote to Broadway News on Instagram March 27.

Her castmate, Samantha Pauly, who plays Katherine Howard, has also taken up jump-roping, in addition to creating her own makeshift, at-home gym.

Though Maedke finds herself practicing the choreography to “Get Down,” Anna of Cleves’ hip hop-inspired number, for “a quick cardio boost and for fun,” most performers are staying away from practicing their full stage routines, for fear of disrupting neighbors and of incurring any injuries.

Jelani Remy, who plays Eddie Kendricks, another Temptations member, in “Ain’t Too Proud,” said he has marked the show’s movement in the mirror a couple times, but that the choreography is “ingrained” in him.

Instead, Remy has been conducting a fitness routine of explosive movement exercises, jogging and yoga, which he said help him maintain the bodily endurance and practice the breath support required for “Ain’t Too Proud.”

“Once the five of us are on stage, we are singing and dancing nonstop, and it requires a certain level of stamina that you learn by doing the show,” Remy said. “By not doing it for so long, you don’t want to lose it.”

His other castmates in the dance-heavy show have also turned back to the routines they used to get in shape for the show. Nik Walker, who plays Otis Williams, continues to train five to six days a week, alternating between high-intensity interval training exercises, cardio, weight training and stretching.

Still, some are using the rare time off to relax.

Manuel sustained an injury to his shin and patella shortly before the theaters closed. While at home, Manuel said he is “doing a few choreo numbers just to get the blood flowing,” but is otherwise giving his body the weeks it needs to fully heal.

“Tina” ensemble member Kayla Davion, who also understudies the lead role, has been watching videos of past performances to keep the show fresh in her mind. While noting that her living room can’t accommodate a “full-out choreo” routine, Davion said she has also made a point to prioritize rest so that she can be ready when performances resume.

“‘Tina’ takes a lot out of you, and I know that when we come back we’re going to want to hit 110% and more,” Davion said.