A Day in the Life of North Carolina Theatre Actress Yolanda Rabun
This member of the "Mary Poppins" cast dicusses rehearsal week
Photos courtesy of North Carolina Theatre
Yolanda Rabun is no ordinary Carolina mom, or is she? In addition to raising her two teenage sons and juggling her schedule as a corporate lawyer, wife and professional recording artist, she also has quite a hefty resume for a working actress in the Triangle area.
Some people may remember her from her role as the Apollo singer in North Carolina Theatre’s production of "Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story," or as Trix the Aviatrix in the "Drowsy Chaperone," starring North Carolina natives Clay Aiken and Tony Award winner Beth Leavel.
Now in North Carolina Theatre’s "Mary Poppins," which runs July 26-31, Rabun is working alongside some of Broadway’s brightest stars, including Kara Lindsay and Nicolas Dromard. Rabun who, as "Mrs. Corry" gets to sing the iconic "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" with Mary Poppins in this production, took Carolina Parent along on her first week of rehearsals.
When I wake up in the morning, I go to my “Florida” room, which is my outdoor-screened porch, roll out my yoga mat, sit in a yoga position and listen to sounds from the air. It is very peaceful and important, since typically what follows in the day is fast-paced and nonstop. After chatting with my husband about the upcoming day, drinking water and eating eggs, I hug my rescue Weimaraner (dog) for a bit and then head off to my office. Every day begins with corporate legal work before afternoon rehearsals. In the span of five hours, I easily can take five to six conference calls, review several agreements and work on presentation decks or respond to numerous emails. My energy is pretty calm, and needs to be, to help respond to the hectic demands in the workplace. Once the morning is over, I grab lunch and talk to my boys about their afternoon plans. And then, I’m off to rehearsal!
Afternoon: My first stop before the start of rehearsal is to go to the costume shop for a costume fitting. Not only do I play Ms. Corry, the magical gingerbread shop owner in "Mary Poppins," but I'm also an ensemble member. I have about three other changes that are so cool! Once rehearsals begin, we start with music, such as "Jolly Holiday," "Let’s Go Fly a Kite," "Anything Can Happen" and of course "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." I feel like a school kid again, singing this music. It really breathes energy into any room!
After music, we head straight to choreography to learn how to spell with our bodies. I even learned the inspiration behind the choreography for "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," which gives new meaning to the song. The audience will enjoy the entire show, and this song is designed to be understood by various people since we are actually performing a form of British sign language!
After dance rehearsal, I try on my wigs for the production. I am so in love with Ms. Corry’s look. I can’t stop laughing, really. It yells fun! This show is just fun. The cast is fun, too. There are several actors from New York in town for our whirlwind two-week rehearsal process before we open. They are very supportive of each other and bloody good! Most people speak with a British accent for the show, except me. But no worries, I do use an accent and I promise it will be fun!
On breaks, I read and respond to work emails and even take calls. Sounds crazy, I know, but it is very hard to feel any stress around this group. From the director, Eric Woodall, all the way to the company manager, there is such a positive atmosphere. It’s really all I need to thrive.
Our rehearsals vary in time based on the scene being worked. If you are not working a scene, you are singing. If you are not singing, you are dancing. For me, if I am not scheduled for anything, I am in a room running lines with a stage manager or going over my music with a music assistant. There is never a dull moment. In fact, near the end of the afternoon, I leave to pick up my youngest son from school or his friend’s house to take him home.
The evening is a good repeat of the afternoon and can go as late as 10:30 p.m. In three short days we have stumbled through the entire first act and I feel excited, nervous, overwhelmed and humbled all at once! When I get home, my menfolk are typically awake and we chat about our adventures. Before diving back into my agreements, conference calls and new emails from global clients, I wash clothes, tidy up the kitchen and manage household bills. I’m still having fun through it all!
People often ask me how it’s possible to juggle so many things at once. Like Mary Poppins says, "In every job to be done, there is an element of fun.” I find the fun. But most importantly, like Mary, I truly believe that, “The whole world is at your feet and anything can happen, if you let it!”
Enter our contest for a chance to win tickets to see Yolanda and the rest of the cast of "Mary Poppins"!
Show dates: July 26-31
Location: Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
To order tickets: NCTheatre.com