A day in the life of the Genie, who takes the subway to work and performs 8 shows a week on Broadway
Broadway star Michael James Scott has been "a theater nerd" since before he can remember, he tells CNBC Make It. "I've never wanted to do anything else in my life."
He started as a child actor, doing commercials in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, and studied theater throughout high school and college. In his 20s, he understudied Tony-wining actor Ben Vereen and trained at the Broadway Theatre Project.
"My very first Broadway performance was 'All Shook Up,' which was a jukebox musical of Elvis music," Scott recalls. "I remember it very vividly because it was in the same theater where I saw my first Broadway show when I was in ninth grade."
Today, at 38, his impressive resume includes appearances in "The Book of Mormon," "Mamma Mia!," "Tarzan" and, most recently, Disney's hit show "Aladdin." Scott has played the role of the sassy, wish-granting Genie since the show first opened on Broadway five years ago.
Besides performing in front of sold-out audiences in New York City, the gig has taken him to Australia (where he played the Genie for 18 months), London and all over the U.S. for national tours: "My journey has taken me around the world and now I am back at home on Broadway, which is fabulous."
Scott performs six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday. He has double-headers — a matinee and an evening show — on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Monday is his day off.
I met up with the Genie on a Wednesday morning to find out what a true day in the life of a Broadway star is all about.
8 a.m.: Wake up
Scott likes to be awake at least five hours before show time "so that I can get my body going," he says. On days when he has a matinee, that means waking up at 8 a.m.
He starts drinking water right away — "enough water that you constantly have to go to the bathroom," he adds. "But it's the only way to stay hydrated, and it's really important to be hydrated in this business."
He also drinks coffee — specifically, a latte from the coffee shop around the corner from his Manhattan apartment — and grabs breakfast. Today, it's a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with avocado.
10 a.m.: Work out
Scott likes to get in a cardio workout before he performs. On this particular day, most of the morning is taken up by our interview, but he would usually go for a swim or walk the 30 blocks from his apartment to the theater.
11:30 a.m.: Commute to the theater
If Scott isn't walking to work, he rides the subway.
"It's extremely fast," he tells me. Sure enough, we make it to the entrance of the New Amsterdam Theatre in 15 minutes.
11:45 a.m.: Get stage ready
Scott arrives an hour and 15 minutes before the curtain goes up. "At that point I have to be in makeup, where they put my microphone on, and they do my first look as the Genie," Scott says.
1 p.m.: Perform the first show of the day
The Wednesday matinee starts at 1 p.m., and the Genie appears on stage right away.
At this point in his career, "I don't get nervous right before I go on," Scott tells me. That said, "I still get butterflies in my stomach as soon as the orchestra starts because there's nothing like it. It's not really nervousness as much as it is excitement."
He doesn't overthink his lines, either: "I used to stress out about remembering lines," but the key, he has learned, is to relax and not think too hard about specific words. "You would be surprised — once you get up on your feet, the lines kind of come into your body."
Everyone forgets lines at some point in their career, he adds: "It doesn't happen a lot, but it's live, we're human, so sometimes you might flub up with a word. Most of the time, you get the intention — you're not really off — and you just move on and keep going."
I still get butterflies in my stomach as soon as the orchestra starts because there's nothing like it.Michael James ScottBroadway star
3:30 p.m.: Relax and refuel
"Aladdin" is two-hours-and-20-minutes long. After taking a bow, Scott has about two and a half hours to himself before he's due back to the theater. He uses the time to eat, nap or do physical therapy.
"The hardest part of the job is the wear and tear on your body," he says. "People don't realize how much Broadway actors have to really take care of their bodies. We are athletes, too."
This afternoon, he meets a friend from high school, who is also a Broadway performer, for an early dinner.
7 p.m.: Perform the second show
If Scott leaves the theater in between shows, he makes it back by 6 p.m. for costume and makeup, and "I do basically everything all over again," he says.
The job doesn't gets old, he adds: "To be on a Broadway stage, or just on a stage where people are looking at you, it's indescribable. It's like an out-of-body experience."
Regardless of the size of the audience, "it's very intimate," he says. "There could be over a thousand people watching you, and it feels very intimate because they are silent. It's just as if we are sitting in a room together, and I'm telling you a little story." Even with a big crowd, "I see people in the audience. People think that we can't see them, but you see people looking at their playbill, maybe checking a phone. Or you see them smile, you see them laugh. It's very cool."
9:30 p.m.: Commute home
After the curtain comes down, Scott greets fans outside to sign autographs and take pictures before taking the train home.
"At the end of the evening, I go home, sit on the couch and watch television," says Scott, who prefers reality TV. "It's a fun way to unwind."
By the time he makes it in front of his TV, he's been up and on his feet for 14 hours. The schedule can be hectic and taxing, but "I wouldn't trade this for anything, he says. "I love the craziness of it — it's the best kind of crazy that you can have."
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