For Tasia Jungbauer, an actress in the Tony award-winning Broadway production of the musical Moulin Rouge, memorizing three roles for one show is just another
“day at the office.” Jungbauer works as a swing, which is a cast member whose job is to memorize and perform multiple different roles in case another cast member can’t perform.

From a young age, Jungbauer explored performance through dance, choir, and school plays. She wasn’t, however, a member of the International Thespian Society. “I enjoyed my high school and college years, and I think that has really helped me to pursue this in the long run, and to stay curious and open,” Jungbauer explains. She wishes that she could have had “more rigorous training” and that she had started dancing earlier but is grateful for how well-rounded she was when she was beginning her theatre journey.

Her choice to attend Pepperdine University opened up new opportunities to perform in musicals. Jungbauer notes that there is “a difference between saying you want to do this forever in an abstract sense and knowing what that decision actually means, and I don’t think I was able to decide until I realized what it really meant to perform forever. Knowing that 70% of this life is rejection, self-motivation … and then the 30% is the glorious moment when you book a job and get to do the thing you love.” No matter the difficulties that arise in the life of every actress, Jungbauer dedicates herself to learning every detail of Moulin Rouge so that she can give an astounding performance on the nights she is called to perform. 

Tasia Jungbauer on Where to Focus

Jungbauer explains that “you need to be very organized and detail-oriented as a swing.” Her own process includes taking detailed notes on an iPad that describe her movements in each scene; each character that she plays gets a designated set of notes. “I spent about one month [of rehearsal] learning the show in general and my first track, then about three weeks learning my next track, and then about two weeks to learn my next track,” Jungbauer says. “Rehearsals usually start as learning the ‘vocabulary’ of the movement or scene work, then the blocking, then you add the elements of stage and set and necessary costume pieces, then you go full out with everything in a run.” All this work adds up to create a performer who can fill in for a number of different characters. As the theatre industry continues to navigate the coronavirus, dedicated swings like Jungbauer keep shows running.

Moulin Rouge is a vivacious, electric musical that proves to be physically demanding on dancers’ bodies. For Jungbaeur, this requires a commitment to working out outside of the show, especially because she doesn’t perform every night. Her routine includes “a 45-minute yoga practice in the morning, then a combo of strength training and cardio 3-5 times a week.”

For a Broadway performer, vocal warmups are just as important as physical warmups. “I steam often and do vocal warmups, even though I may not be singing every night,” Jungbauer says. “It’s kind of weird just trying to always be prepared for everything, but it’s been a great skill to develop.”

Mental training also has a part to play. According to Jungbauer, “One unexpected challenge is the kind of never-ending nervousness you feel as a swing. At least, never-ending until you do all of your tracks … and even backstage, even when you’re not doing the show, you always have to be mindful that you could go on at the drop of a hat.” The good news is that there are plenty of other swings involved in Broadway productions who understand this balance between excitement and nerves. “When we’re not on, we spend a lot of time together. It’s been great to have this support system of people who know how you’re feeling, [who] know the highs and the lows and are there to celebrate with you and bring you out of darker moments,” Jungbauer explains.

Looking Ahead

What’s next for this electric young actress? Jungbauer describes herself as being “drawn to stories (and productions) that take risks and do something new and exciting. Stories that see the mold … and break it, flip it, amplify it, reverse it.” She lists recent productions such as Hamilton and Hadestown as examples of this–and of course, Moulin Rouge. “[Theatre] gives me purpose,” Jungbauer says. “It refines and focuses every other choice in my life.” 

Dylan Malloy is a playwright and director who currently attends Emory University as a playwriting major, with a double major in business on the arts administration track. You can find her on Instagram @dylan_writes.

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