32 – Eryn LeCroy on Entertainment & Education

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0:00 Eryn
One thing that's been huge for me is learning to say no. And setting boundaries. Because that is something, for me, that has been particularly challenging because I like to say yes to everything, mostly because I don't want to miss out on anything. And also I love people. And so I want to help or I want to be part of a project my friends are doing or you know, whatever it may be, but I in the past that has not served me so well because I've stretched myself too thin. And I've run myself down emotionally and physically, literally physically in the past from spreading myself too thin. So, in order to maintain a healthier outlook with all of that I have learned the importance of saying no and that it is okay to say no and set boundaries so then you are able to more fully pour into where your passions and cares really lie.

1:17 Tony
Hello, it's Tony Howell and welcome to Conversations with Changemakers. Thank you so much for hitting play. In this month's conversation, we speak with Eryn LeCroy. She's heading back to Broadway to play Martha Jefferson and Dr. Lyman Hall in the revolutionary new revival of the Tony Award winning Best Musical, 1776. Prior to her Broadway debut in the iconic role of Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, Eryn made her off Broadway debut in back-to-back Sondheim productions. First, Assassins within New York City Center Encores, and then Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre. I wanted to have Eryn on specifically to speak about the combinations of entertainment and education. We end up talking about many more things including American politics, spirituality, self-care, leadership, and service. There's so much in this episode… enjoy!

Alright! Eryn LeCroy—we are finally reconnecting. You have had a busy, busy summer: traveling to Israel, working eight shows a week, and you're still traveling. So why don't you catch us up about what the last couple of months have looked like for you?

2:40 Eryn
So the last couple of months have looked like spending time in the Boston Cambridge area, doing the pre-Broadway tryout of the revival of 1776 with the American Repertory Theatre. I love Boston. What an incredible city! When I had time to go out and explore and see different things. I even went to some coastal and seaside towns. It's a fantastic, beautiful city; beautiful countryside. I loved my time there. But then, shortly after that, my family actually took a trip to Grenada, and we were there for a week. Beautiful country. We took some time to relax, we also went to a rainforest, which was super fun. I've always wanted to hike through a rainforest. So we had fun doing that. We went to a chocolate estate and learned how they make chocolate. I love chocolate. So that was also a highlight for me. And then shortly after that, I traveled down south and I'm actually in Texas right now spending some time seeing friends and family before I head back to New York to start rehearsals for the Broadway run of 1776.

3:53 Tony
Fantastic. Well, let's zoom in on that. I'm jealous I don't get to see the show. But I'm hoping it has the longest, longest run. I know it's going to tour. But I'm hoping that I get a chance… we'll see what's in the cards. But I feel like many of us know this, but why do you, Eryn LeCroy, think people need to see this version of the show?

4:14 Eryn
I think one reason I'd like to hone in on is that people need to see this revival of 1776 because we are including voices through the representation within our casting on that stage that were otherwise excluded when this document was written. And I've noticed by watching audience reactions from the wings and hearing them over the monitors, that the words that are spoken by those particular bodies on the stage land differently with audience members. It resounds with a different impact with audience members. And I think it begs the question of, “How would things be different today, if we had considered those voices in the first place, when this document was written?” I think that's one huge reason why people need to see this revival.

And then another reason for me, also coming from a background of music, I think the music in the show has been completely refreshed. The music team has done an incredible job of reorchestrating a lot of the musical themes. They're actually including different musical elements from the period of 1776, in addition to the late 60s, early 70s, when the show was originally conceived, and the sounds of today, so I think the orchestrations are incredible. And I think people who love 1776 will be really enthralled to hear these new musical arrangements within the show.

5:54 Tony
It's so exciting! I'm so jealous. You know that I worked at MTI for like seven years and 1776 was like, just like one of the shows that I was like, I have never seen it live, but I've always known the music. And so who knows, maybe a trip to New York is in store!

And I want to do… this is for my listener, but it's also for myself. Like, give us a refresher, because I'm 36, and I'm like, okay: The Declaration of Independence. So just tell us about this time in history? And when I was researching the show, there's something about the omission of the anti-slavery clause, that was like a deciding factor that most people don't know about. So can you just highlight that for us?

6:40 Eryn
Yes, I'm going to try to keep this really concise. I'm going to throw a few dates your way: 1765, 1770, and then 1773-1776.

So we start with the year 1765, which is when The Stamp Act took place. So this was the first internal tax that was placed upon the American colonists by the British. And this then led to a whole series of British laws that were met with a lot of opposition by the colonists. So you fast forward then to 1770. And this all kind of imploded into what is known as The Boston Massacre, where British troops killed five colonists. And when I was in Boston, I actually went to that spot. There's a plaque in the ground that shows you where the Boston Massacre occurred. Fast forward three years later, and we have the Tea Act of 1773, which everyone knows as the infamous Boston Tea Party. And so in response to this, the British began to crack down upon the colonists. And you have a series of acts which are referred to as the Intolerable Acts. And because of that, we then have the formation of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774. They denounced taxation without representation, but they weren't quite ready to break off from the British. Fast forward a little more, we have The Battle of Bunker Hill, in which you had the first shots that rang out between the American colonists and the British. Hundreds of colonists were killed at that point. I mean, this is The Battle of Lexington and Concord. And in the midst of all of this, the First Continental Congress was still under the assumption that they were going to reconcile with Britain. Well, then you fast forward to 1775 and King George III publicly denounces the colonies in front of Parliament, and he prepares his army to squash the rebellion. So then out of this is birthed the Second Continental Congress, which is where the focus of the musical 1776 takes place, is within the Second Continental Congress. And Richard Henry Lee, on June 7, and he's the representative from the colony of Virginia. On June 7, 1776, he leads the motion to declare independence.

So quick summary: Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Tea Act, First Continental Congress, Intolerable Acts, The Battle at Lexington and Concord, King George III in 1775 denouncing the colonies, and then we have Richard Henry Lee, leading the motion to declare independence in 1776. And then a committee was formed to write the Declaration and that's where Thomas Jefferson really comes into play and is highlighted now in terms of the anti-slavery clause. Thomas Jefferson had written a 168 word count, anti-slavery clause that, like you said, was omitted from the Declaration. And I actually didn't know that before the production. Yeah, news to me, but a huge piece of important history! And the exact circumstances as to why this was omitted and removed or not exactly known. A draft of the Declaration was presented to the Second Continental Congress and they discussed and debated that over a period of several days. But those discussions were not recorded. What we do know is the removal would have been fueled by political and economic reasons. And both the South and the North had stakes in that.

Several decades after the Declaration was written, Thomas Jefferson actually wrote an autobiography. And he said that a lot of the removal had to do with South Carolina and Georgia. They were apparently the colonies that really pushed the issue for the removal of the anti-slavery clause. So in our production, in the musical of 1776, the colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, were not willing to stand for independence unless the anti-slavery clause was omitted from the Declaration.

11:36 Tony
Thank you for giving us a lesson on World History and American History. Applause to you! Give her a Tony.

Now, that is a lot of research, I will try to include resources with the episode that kind of spells that out. And I know that the production has so many helpful resources. That's one of the themes I kind of wanted to explore with you is this concept of theatre as education, because I know that service is a value of yours.

I know it took two years (because of COVID and all of these things) to get this production on its feet. So were there any insights from the process? And everything that happened in those years: Black Lives Matter and anti-Asian hate and, there's just so many things that we need to fix. So beyond this show, which is going to make a huge impact, like, is there anything that you feel like you're going to take with you into future shows?

12:33 Eryn
I think one thing that our Co–Directors, Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page, have really highlighted is: how do we reckon with our past in order to move forward and produce change? And when we started this rehearsal process in April, we were given a syllabus packet. In addition to materials, our Dramaturg, Robert Duffley had put together for our own personal research this syllabus included four essential questions that involve a lot of critical thinking and self-reflection. So to directly answer your question real quick, I think I will take those tools of critical thinking and self-reflection into other shows and processes moving forward. But I wanted to touch on the four questions that they asked. It was:
In creating the Declaration of Independence, what mattered?
How does an honest reckoning with our past help us move forward together?
How can we hold history as a predicament versus an affirming myth?
How is our story part of American history?

So these were four questions that they continued to come back to throughout the process. And that cast members were asked to consider: to spend some time reflecting on that. And also, I think what was really cool, is they had these questions available for audience members who came to see our production at the American Repertory Theatre, hence, combining I think education and entertainment to result in creating theatre that challenges—because you're forced to reflect and really grapple with some of these questions and reckon with our history, where we have been, where we are now, and where we desire to move forward in the future together.

14:56 Tony
I need just a little bit more clarity on number three and sort of what that means? I'm maybe misquoting, “How can we hold our history as more of a predicament and less of an affirming myth?” What does that mean?

15:08 Eryn
Yeah, I think what that refers to is referring to reckoning with our past, for example, not holding in specifically in reference to this musical 1776, not holding our founding fathers on a pedestal, because they were also broken and imperfect. I mean, we just go back to how they omitted the anti-slavery clause. Right? That wasn't right, by any means. And so to reckon with that, to grapple with that, and to not hold them on a pedestal, but what are the things that they did, that maybe were not right, that we should do differently moving forward in the future?

15:53 Tony
I feel like the show is... because so much about Broadway, from what I've gathered, of interviews and such, it's about timing. The reason why this hits it big is sometimes it's just what the world needed at the right time. So this feels like it's coming just at the right time. It's relevant, it's needed, people need to be challenged. So is there an thing that you have taken away that you will carry with you for your lifetime? That someone has said to you after the show that you're like, Yeah, I just want to know if there's been any responses thus far.

16:29 Eryn
Yeah, well, can I share something that Senator Elizabeth Warren shared with our company, she came to see our show, we had no idea she was in the audience. And she came to our Stage Door afterwards, and took time to speak with our company. And I'm going to quote what she said. She said, “We think about who we are, in lots of ways. We find it on the floor of our Congress. We talk about it through the media. But it's through art that it touches our hearts. When you put on a show like this, like 1776, you know, particularly in the moment that we are now, and people come to see it, they feel it. They don't just hear it, but they feel it. And this is how we need to build our future.”

So that is something that Senator Elizabeth Warren shared with us. And that will be something that I will take forward with me.

17:25 Tony
And with your permission, we'll include that with the episode. But what I want to put neon lights around that you just said is that one of our country's leaders came to see the show and said, “You all are changing our country.” And so I just need everyone to hear that again. Yes! And thank you for being a part of that. Yes. Don't make me get emotional.

17:49 Eryn
Can I also tell you one thing real quick as well? So Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson came to our Opening Night performance, and she came on stage with us afterwards, we got to speak to her briefly. And I mean, there were so many reasons why our company was thrilled to have her there. But one thing specifically is that some of the staging in “Sit Down, John" was directly inspired by some of her hearings. And so I know especially for Crystal Lucas-Perry, who portrays John Adams in our show, and of course, our Co-Directors, Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page. That was particularly thrilling because they spent, you know, time on that with the direction of “Sit Down, John” that was also really thrilling to have her there.

18:39 Tony
If anyone's listening, let's mix more of politics and theatre! Let's make some change. This is really, like, quite inspiring. That's what I will say. I was researching to talk to you, and I want to talk about more than 1776, but I just really wanted to open there because you're coming to Broadway. It’s going to be a very, very exciting time. Thank you for spending time on this show.

Let's go to your early years. So I had the great pleasure of building your official website. And one of the things that is easy to gloss over is that you have some history with both YoungArts and The Presser Scholarship. So I actually don't even think that it's on your site, but tell us about those early years leading up to maybe college?

19:23 Eryn
So early years leading up to college. When I was seven, I started singing in children's choirs. So that's how I learned how to read vocal music. And I also started taking piano lessons, I think in children's choirs from age 7 to 15. I loved it. My family moved to New Jersey when I was in middle school. And that's when I first started taking private voice lessons and my voice teacher was a classically trained singer. And so I trained classically, all of those formative years: middle school and high school And when we moved to New Jersey, I also got really involved in community theatre. So my very first musical theatre production was Oliver! at a community theatre in central New Jersey. And then , during that time, I decided there wasn't anything else I wanted to study in school other than the performing arts. And so I ended up going to Oklahoma City University, I got my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. And that is where The Presser Foundation comes into play.

So, the Presser Foundation supports undergraduate students across the country who are committed to advancing music through their studies. It's a monetary scholarship that's given to a junior in college, and they are selected by the music faculty at the school, they have to show a high level of academic and musical achievement and also exhibit qualities of leadership and citizenship and have a desire to promote the music school. And so my junior year of college, the music faculty selected me to be The Presser Scholar, which was just a huge honor.

And then in terms of YoungArts, backtrack a little bit to my senior year of high school. The YoungArts is the sole nominating organization for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts, which is one of the highest achievements that can be awarded to a high school student. So every year they have thousands of high school students apply for YoungArts, ranging from literary to the visual arts to the performing arts, and I applied my senior year and went for classical voice. And they selected 150 finalists to go to YoungArts Week in Miami. So I was one of those finalists that went and you're awarded opportunities for mentorship, you get to collaborate with fellow peers, they have monetary awards. And I was selected to be a semi-finalist for the Presidential Scholar in the Arts. And some notable alumni from that organization include people like Denyce Graves, Vanessa Williams, Billy Porter, Tony Yazbeck, I mean, like the list goes on… just an incredible network of fellow artists, creators, collaborators.

22:39 Tony
Add Eryn LeCroy to that list! So for anyone listening, I definitely like, I also want to put neon lights around government support for the arts, and the fact that there are scholarships available. And so we'll include information about those two areas.

22:58 Eryn
Yes, I would really encourage anyone who's listening. I think now for YoungArts, the age ranges 15-18 to apply. So anyone who's listening who may be within that age bracket, I would really, really encourage them to apply.

23:14 Tony
Do you know if it's only U.S. based or if it's international, and I'm speaking about both of those scholarship opportunities?

23:20 Eryn
I believe they're both only U.S. based.

23:23 Tony
Just curious. So fast forward. Now, you have an amazing résumé. I loved, one of my favorite things about creating your website was creating the wall of fame of like, oh, all these posters and watching your path along the way. So for anyone that goes to ErynLeCroy.com, which they need to because it's sexy and gorgeous, just like you, will you tell us what advice, because one of the pages there is that you do a lot of teaching, when you're not performing. So what is a lesson that you definitely make sure that you try to instill in those 15-18 year old or 25 year old youngsters?

24:00 Eryn
Yes. Okay. I have a few things. I think the biggest thing is, I encourage those young students, those young artists, to always lead in word and deed with kindness, humility, and integrity. I had a vocal coach in New York named Jasper Grant who asked me this question one time and it's always stuck with me. Do you know Jasper?

24:29 Tony
Yeah—from Jen Waldman Studio! Yeah.

24:32 Eryn
So much. So I was preparing to go do a production of My Fair Lady and I was playing Eliza Doolittle. And I had taken my music to Jasper, and we were working on the music. I remember he stopped and he looked at me, and he said, “Eryn, I want to ask you: what kind of leading lady are you going to be?" He said, “Are you going to be the kind of leading lady that leaves her dressing room door open, that's welcoming and inviting, or the kind of leading lady that keeps her door closed? What kind of tone are you setting the moment you set foot into the building?" And so that is something that I will often bring up with young students and young artists, to just encourage them to set a tone of kindness, set a tone of humility, and always lead with integrity. And I think that's important, not just in the theatre, but in any aspect of our lives. So that's one huge thing I definitely focus on. Another thing I encourage, specifically actors, is when you're walking into an audition room, or submitting a self-tape, don't try to figure out what the creative team wants. Because a lot of times, they don't even know what they want. They usually know it when they see it, when it walks into the room. So instead, trust what you have to offer as your authentic self and bring that into the room. Because I guarantee you, that's the best thing you could present at all times. There are even moments where someone may walk into a room and completely change the vision the creative team has for a character, because they're presenting their authentic self. That happens! So that's something I discuss with young students. And then one other thing is, and I think this is huge, the majority of rejections that we face in this business are not personal. There are just so many factors involved in it. And so I think it's important that young students and young artists really, really hold on to that, and not dwell on any rejection that they face for too long. Because at the end of the day, it's only going to hold you back, it's not going to help you move forward. So to just know that the majority of rejections are not personal, they're just not.

27:10 Tony
I have a curveball for you, and you can, you can punt if you want. And there's a theme that I've heard and in my work: sometimes artists, and even in my own career, it was like, being yourself is like, sometimes we were like, “Oh, but wait! I can be anything you want me to be… but you want me to be myself?!"

So if Eryn were a piece of clothing, you're at the department store, like how would you express yourself? What kind of clothes/fabric? Because I identify as a chartreuse bowtie.

27:45 Eryn
Oh, I love that! Okay, absolutely. Do you know what I think, what I identify as? Can I throw a pair of shoes your way? [Please] A black pair of cowboy boots with fringe!

27:58 Tony
Shazam! Unique, authentic: change the vision. But it helps us, I think at least that always helped me, say it's not personal. They didn't want a chartreuse bowtie today.

28:09 Eryn
Yeah. Oh, I love that. Tony. That's really good.

28:13 Tony
You just said it in a different way. So thank you for giving them two ways to look at that. I know that you have worked with incredible people. And maybe some of them are those people that you said change the vision of the work. So can you talk about maybe, because we know we can't mention them all: you've had many teachers, many colleagues, but maybe who's had a lot of influence on you just from being around them?

28:39 Eryn
Okay, so a couple of people come to mind within my work environment with theatre. One person is Victoria Clark. You know, her?

28:52 Tony

28:53 Eryn
I have this… so I did Sousatzka, the musical Sousatzka with her in Toronto. And I played Young Sousatzka in that show. So I portrayed Victoria Clark's younger self in the show. And, as there's so many amazing things I could say about her, but I have this one distinct memory that has stuck with me on the day of the rehearsal process, where we were all introduced to the various crew members that work backstage and in the booth, etc. And, you know, there's so many people involved in that. It can be hard to keep up with who's who. Vicki had her phone out and she was quickly writing down everyone's name, a brief description of what they do, what they look like, so that she could then later on, when she's working with them backstage, reference them by name, and know exactly what they did, and the purpose that they were serving as part of it: our whole unit of that theatre-making process. And that has stuck with me just in how important it is to just simply know people's names, particularly backstage, and to get to know people because they are a vital and integral part of the show that we're putting on eight times a week. So that inspired me. And that stuck with me. And I just thought that that was a really great influential moment of leadership on her end. So she's one person I want to highlight.

Another person is Hugh Panaro. I did Sweeney Todd with him at the Barrow Street Theatre. And Hugh just infuses joy into every atmosphere, he sets his foot in, he knows how to have fun, he knows how to have a good time. He also recognises the work that's at hand, but he just creates such a bright, life giving environment in the spaces that he's in. So I have loved, loved, loved getting to work with him.

And then I also want to highlight my voice teacher from middle school and high school, because where would we be without our teachers and mentors? They are a huge part of our pathway to where we are now! So my voice teacher for middle school and high school, honestly, she's at this point in my life, she's like a second mom, to me. She's the best. Her name is Mrs. Shippey. But she taught me a lot about the importance of discipline. She pushed me, she stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable of: letting me know that I could do even more than I thought I could. She put me in a lot of voice competitions in middle school and high school. And that actually wound up preparing me incredibly well for school auditions when it was time to audition for college. But I think teachers and mentors have a huge influence on us.

32:16 Tony
Yeah! I’m just processing that. So these competitions… tell us more for a parent who's like, “Well, maybe my child should! Maybe I should push them a little bit there.” So where does one find singing competitions prior to college auditions?

32:30 Eryn
Yeah, most of the competitions that I did were classical voice competitions. There are actually musical theatre voice competitions. Some of these that I did were through an organization called NATS, which is National Association for Teachers of Singing. I also did competitions through an organization called MTNA. I believe that's Music Teachers National Association. I don't know how Mrs. Shippi found this, but she found these music clubs in New York, that you sing for a panel of judges, and then they decide whether or not they want to put you in a recital that they put together at Carnegie Hall. So when I was like 16-17 years old, I competed in these music club auditions, and I sang at Weill Hall and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall when I was like 16-17 years old.

33:22 Tony
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? You find a music club!

33:28 Eryn
I put together basically packages of music: art songs, arias, that I would then sing in front of these judges. And what's cool is they also give you feedback on that. So they present opportunities for you. They present ways in which you can grow. And the feedback was really helpful.

33:51 Tony
I'm going to try to squeeze all the questions I can and because we're gonna run out of time, but I want to go back to cowboy boots. So specifically, what do you enjoy more? And you could say I don't have a favorite, but do you like being Eryn on stage when you're doing concerts? Or do you prefer being in character?

34:10 Eryn
Okay, this question is hard for me because I really love both. I love getting to sing just as Eryn getting to do my own concerts, getting to share music that I love, music that is connected to personal stories that I like to share with the audience. And I love that just because it gives me a moment to connect with people just as my complete authentic self. But then when it comes to singing as a character, and you know this Tony, but there's always a big piece of yourself that you do give to the characters so that does come through. But I think one of the reasons why I love portraying other characters is because you get to dive in and learn about what makes your character tick? What are their values? What are their struggles? What are they passionate about in life? How does that maybe coincide with what you think or what you believe, or maybe it doesn't. And therefore, it challenges you to see a different perspective, a different outlook on life, because you're seeing the world through someone else's lens. And I think it's so important to have opportunities for that, because it gives, at least for myself, it gives me an even deeper grace and understanding for humanity as a whole.

35:45 Tony
I love it: examining self and others. Very, very important. So speaking of an examination, you aced it, like it was so fun working with you because you brought so much to the table including gorgeous images with Kent Meister, your sister, I don't know if we can say that, but your sister photographed you, which is stunning. And also these video recordings with Jan McDaniel and Inside Voice Productions, so looking at it now, what is your favorite thing about the website?

36:18 Eryn
Okay, so funnily enough, it's actually what you mentioned earlier, that credits page with the carousel of like, the beautiful posters. [Yes, yes, yes, yes!] I love the design of that page. I think it's beautiful. When you and I were creating a “Blueprint” for my website, you mentioned three different things. Okay. You mentioned honoring the past, presenting the present, and designing for the future. So in honoring the past, I think that you created this beautiful credits page that's got different show posters on it that I love, kind of highlighting some of the different shows I've gotten to be part of as opposed to just a résumé on a page. I think it's beautiful. And then also, in terms of designing for the future, one thing that you did that I love, because we talked a lot about what are some future goals that I have in mind. And I have some goals that haven't quite yet come to fruition. But you created some pages, some secret pages that I can later on, fill in with things and then set live whenever I'm ready for them to go live. And so I also really love that I have the opportunity to do that with the way that you created and structured and designed my website. I love that. And then I think that the website is really easy to navigate. I think it's clear, concise. I also think one thing I had expressed to you is I wanted something that was classy and graceful. And I think combining your talents and Kent’s and my sister’s and Jan's and Inside Voice's… it just yet again reinforces that it takes a village to bring a vision to fruition. And so for that I'm very, very grateful.

38:28 Tony
Well, I'm grateful for the opportunity. And I do want everyone to go check out your site and the music video right there on the homepage. I'm surprised you didn't say that. And there's a secret surprise for them on your about page. If you find the secret surprise, you have to let us know.

But let's shift gears, Eryn and put the spotlight on you. Because another thing I really like about you, that is part of this modern world that we're in, is the way that you handle your social media. You're not aggressive, but I see the responsibility that you take in engaging. So how do you approach it? Like, what is your point of view on social media for the artist?

39:05 Eryn
Sure. I think well, for me personally, it's simple in the sense that I want to present things on social media to an audience that are clean and uplifting and encouraging. And I also want to use my social media as a platform to announce performances, casting announcements, things within that realm. So that's more or less how I choose to engage in social media. I will also use it from time to time for fans who will reach out. I really tried to take some time to respond to them when they send messages. I mean, because they're an integral part to theatre thriving. We need their support and their encouragement. In the past I've received really lovely messages from complete strangers that have really touched my heart and encouraged me and have reinforced the why behind what I do. And so I think social media has been positive for me in those different aspects.

40:18 Tony
Lately, I love to highlight things as people say them. And so I do want people to hear that it can be helpful to help people reinforce the why for what they do by just sending little love notes. And so I think we can all do that maybe a little bit more.

Okay, so eight shows a week is no joke, you're getting ready to go into press and put-ins and all kinds of fun stuff. But you actually fill in the gaps. And how do you handle when you're working and not working? What is your strategy? How do you practice self-care in taking care of Eryn, whether she's in a show or not in a show at the time?

41:00 Eryn
Yes. So one thing that's been huge for me, is learning to say no, and setting boundaries. Because that is something for me, that has been particularly challenging, because I like to say yes to everything, mostly because I don't want to miss out on anything. And also, I love people. And so I want to help or I want to be part of a project my friends are doing or you know, whatever it may be. But in the past, that has not served me so well, because I've stretched myself too thin. And I've run myself down emotionally and physically, literally physically in the past from spreading myself too thin. So in order to maintain a healthier outlook, with all of that I have learned the importance of saying no, and that it is okay to say no and set boundaries. So then you are able to more fully pour into where your passions and cares really lie. And then also, for me, personally, it's been super important to have a team in my corner that's going to support me and encouraged me whether that's family, friends, mentors, teachers, people who are going to not only hold me accountable, but be a sounding board for me on both my good days and my bad days. Because there are a lot of tough days that you're up against. And I found that it has been vital to my well being to have a community that's going to continue to encourage and push me forward, especially on those days that are particularly hard,

42:57 Tony
Giving us the gold! Thank you, thank you.

43:00 Eryn
Another huge thing for me in increasing or maintaining wellness, is to practice gratitude every day. I think that it can be so easy to get caught up in what we don't have, or get caught up in comparison, or a peer’s career versus our own. But at the end of the day, there's a lot to be grateful for. Even if it's something as simple honestly, as a roof over our heads and food on our table. That's huge. And so too, I think practicing gratitude really helps to shape our minds every day, and helps set the tone for our days. So that is something. And then, for me personally, a fairly consistent habit of good nutrition. And a gym routine has also been really vital for me, maintaining my wellness, especially when we're talking about doing eight shows a week. Performers are athletes. And so I think it's really important for us to take time to train like one, especially when we're doing eight shows a week. And so, you know, traveling a lot lately when you travel a lot, it gets a little tricky doing that. But I still find moments to make that happen. Even if it's taking 20 minutes to do some yoga in my living room. That is super important. And also, another thing that's huge for me is rest! Getting the rest that I need. I think sometimes we undermine the value of rest, but it is so vital for the renewal of our minds and our bodies and for just a sound whole person right Is is really vital. So that's also something that is super important for me and maintaining wellness, particularly when we're doing eight shows a week.

45:08 Tony
Eryn, I have been taking notes, I cannot wait to put these bonus resources together. Thank you. This is just what I needed to hear today. So I just say, thank you. And if you, our listener agree, please pass on that gratitude to Eryn. I'm sure it will reach her at just the right time.

So I know that service, helping others, is a big value to you. So closing us out: are there any particular organizations that you choose to give your energy to? To really highlight—shine your spotlight on?

45:41 Eryn
Yes, so there are two specific organizations that I would like to highlight. One is Broadway Hearts, which is an organization that was created by my friend Jessica Radetsky, who is in The Phantom of the Opera, and Broadway Hearts essentially brings Broadway performance: songs/music to children in hospitals who are ill, and unable to travel to theaters. So pre-pandemic, we were actually able to go into hospitals in New York, we would sing songs with some of the children, we would sing songs for some of the children, we played a game called Broadway Bingo with some of the kids. And now in light of the pandemic, and coming out of that our visits have been limited to Zoom. But it's actually worked out really beautifully. We're still able to sing through Zoom for the kids. And we still play Broadway Bingo with the kids. But it just, I think, brings them some hope and some joy. And some of these kids really love Broadway. And so to have the opportunity to just bring a little taste of that to them when they can't get out to see it is really special to me. So we have, there's a lot of different Broadway performers in current Broadway shows, or who happen in past Broadway shows who are involved in this organization. And then the second organization I wanted to highlight is City Relief in New York City, which is an organization I've served with several times and they bring both immediate resources to the homeless population like food and hygiene kits. But what I really love is that they also provide resources for them that help them for their future, like job opportunities and housing opportunities. They have that available to them if you're interested in pursuing that. So that is City Relief in New York City.

47:47 Tony
Incredible. You've given us too much today to fit under like a little audio block. So definitely people need to go to the website to grab all of these, I guess, Eryn, we are running out of time. Sadly, we could talk for hours, I feel. But the theme of this show is ideally helping the artist or someone who has the whisper to help others of how they can use their work to change the world. So I just heard Dolly Parton say, "Changing the world is a big task. So change your little corner of the world" is what she said. But anything else that you can pass on to us, humans or artists listening about ways that we can attempt to create more joy and healing?

48:28 Eryn
Sure. So I would like to riff off of an incredible artist friend of mine, if that's okay. I've been reading a book by him lately. And it's really brought a lot of inspiration to me. So this friend is, his name is Makoto Fujimura. And to riff off of him, I think, in order to bring change into the world, we have to infuse what's old, with something that is new, and to lead to something that is new. So I think every kind of art form recognizes that the world is broken, or must be broken in order to be made new again, or in response to your question to bring about change. And something that Mako really highlights a lot is this ancient Japanese form of art called Kintsugi. And I learned about that through him. It's the act of repairing broken pottery by reassembling the fractured pieces to create a vessel that's even more beautiful and even more valuable than what it was in its original art form. And so, I think as artists, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to invoke fresh beauty and newness into what is broken around us to bring healing to bring newness and to directly quote Mako, because I love this quote, “Artists are border stalkers, they imagine the world beyond and invoke abundance in their midst. Even though the world around them cannot see or believe what they do, artists acknowledge a limited resource environment, but use the resources given to create a world of abundance beyond the horizon." I think that that's actually something that we are doing with this current revival of 1776, to bring it back to 1776. Taking something, specifically in regards to the founding of our country, that was not perfect, that has fissures in it, something that has a lot of brokenness in it. And I think that with our current moment in time, and specifically, the way that this production has been cast, giving voices to those who originally would not have been included, you're creating newness, you're invoking abundance, into what isn't completely perfect, what has into something that has brokenness in it. And you're not only hopefully, bringing repair to that. But more than that, you're creating a path forward. The hope is that that path forward is filled with more hope, and abundance, and opportunity.

51:52 Tony
Thank you, Eryn, and thank you for joining us. I hope this episode encouraged you in some way. Perhaps it is combining entertainment with education, or said in another way, expression with service.

You can catch Eryn and the company of 1776 on Broadway from September 2022 to January 2023. But then, that production is going out on a 16-city national tour. And it happens to coincide with the midterm elections. So between you and me, I think it's a fantastic gift idea for your family that is across the United States. Get them tickets to see a revolutionary Broadway musical in their town.

I shared quite a few things that stood out to me within this episode. And there were a whole lot of amazing things to talk about. What moments spoke to you? If you would, share this episode with someone you think would enjoy it, or if you're so inclined, share your thoughts with Eryn and myself! Tag us to make sure that we see it. I know that it would be a true gift to hear from you.

Now if you want, you can check out the episode description because I've worked with Eryn to gather a collection of bonus content. This includes a lot of the historical research that has made up not only the original, but also the revival of 1776. But all of the organizations and quotes that Eryn mentioned, her new music video, fun throwback photos, and a whole lot more.

Now of course, if you're curious, you can also go straight to the source and check out ErynLeCroy.com. I know we are both very, very proud of that co-creation.

Now I don't know if you are a longtime listener or if this is your first episode, but I really do want to hear from you! One of the things about podcasting is there is no response, or at least no immediate response. So it would mean the world to me, if you would leave a review. Hop over to Apple Podcasts, share just a few words about what you think of the show, because it will help other people just like you find the episodes.

While you're there, poke around there are 30+ other Changemakers whose voices need to be heard. And I hope that those conversations really reach you at the right time. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you for using your work, your words, your voice, your message, your art, to change the world. I hope you and I get to have a conversation about that very soon.

On this episode of Conversations with Changemakers, we speak with Eryn LeCroy.

She is heading back to Broadway to play Martha Jefferson & Dr. Lyman Hall in the highly anticipated Broadway Revival of 1776 directed by Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page. Prior to her Broadway debut in the iconic role of Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, Eryn made her Off-Broadway debut in two back-to-back Stephen Sondheim productions: Assassins with the New York City Center Encores and Sweeney Todd at the Barrow Street Theatre.

I wanted to have Eryn on to speak about service through entertainment and education. We end up talking about politics and spirituality. There’s so much in this episode… enjoy!

Click here to access bonus resources from this episode.

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If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Be sure to check out our past conversations and subscribe for next month’s special guest!

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