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My Broadway Debut: Time-clocked by Justin Mortelliti

9 a.m.  My alarm wakes me up. The message to myself on my alarm says, “Time to wake the eff up and live your rad life.” I should think that my eyes would pop open as I bounce out of bed singing, “It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere,” as it is the day of my first performance on Broadway, but the lead up of tech week to our first preview has got me huuuurting, so I hit the snooze button once or twice.

9:30 a.m. – Roll out of bed, give the dog a kiss and get myself into the shower and ready for the day. The smell of breakfast is already filling the apartment because my amazing fiancé is cooking me a sweet first-day-on-Broadway breakfast. I give him a big kiss on my way to the bathroom.

10 a.m. – Mark and I enjoy breakfast and coffee together with the latest episode of Top Chef and cuddles with Dio G., our lil’ pup.

10:45 a.m. – I read a classmate’s Instagram post and I am instantly reminded of an old photo I had forgotten about. It is of me, age 12, playing the Cowardly Lion in my middle show musical. It was my first big role. I am standing in a lion costume, (sleeves and legs rolled up because it was way too big for me) smiling my face off. I find the photo and then I grab a little knick-knack, a small figurine of the Cowardly Lion that the little boy in that picture had been given as a gift back in 1990-something. I stuff it in my backpack next to a bottle of tequila.

11 a.m. – Grab my things and go. I take the crosstown bus and downtown train to get to Times Square. On the subway, I make an Instagram post using the old photo of me as the Lion and get choked up. As I fight back tears, an old woman looks at me with kind eyes. I make my way through the crowds of tourists, past Superman, Elmo and some characters I don’t recognize with a big smile on my face and our cast album blasting in my earbuds. I stop once to snap a pic of Times Square to capture the moment. I arrive at our stage door on 45th Street by 11:45 a.m. and place the bottle of tequila in our dressing room freezer. (This tequila was purchased by a great friend last summer when I booked the job, who made me promise not to open it until my debut.) I take the Cowardly Lion out of my bag and place him in front of my mirror where he will stand facing me, mid-stride, from here on out. You know… to give me courage.

Noon – Rehearsal notes and fixes from our final dress rehearsal. Everyone has an extra bit of energy today and there is a buzz around the building. We rehearse all afternoon. We laugh all the way, which is the usual way in this cast; something I love.

4:45 p.m. – Chris Ashley circles us up for a quick family moment before we head off to dinner. He announces the eight Broadway debuts that are happening tonight. And we all cheer and hug.

5-7 p.m. – I grab sushi with some cast mates. Sara Andreas takes Instagram stories for her Margaritaville takeover and we have some good laughs. I receive a notification from BroadwayBox that they have just published an interview and photo shoot with my fiancé; a ‘Dynamic Duo’ post about the two of us making our debuts across Times Square from one another. It was perfectly timed and made an incredible day even better. Mark shows up at the end of dinner for a quick kiss and a break-a-leg.

7:30 p.m. – Half-hour call!! Flowers, cards and champagne sit at my station in the dressing room. Mike Millan hands me a card from one Goon to another and we share a moment of excitement, and maybe a couple tears, while Julius Anthony Rubio gets the dressing room party started with some hype music. We all get ready for the show and the room is full of laughs, crazy energy, dancing, fart jokes and sha-blams.

7:55 p.m. – Places! We head to the stage, practically skipping, stretch it out, warm it up and get ourselves ready. The party is definitely behind the curtain as well as in front of it. The house is going crazy. It’s LOUD. And we are just as loud backstage. Everyone is SO excited.

8 p.m. – The curtain rises and we all LOSE OUR MINDS. The opening number is so high energy but I swear my feet barely touch the floor. I am flying (and almost falling a few times) as we dance our asses off. The audience is sold out and ready for a party. It’s freaking wild. After the number, I almost blackout and can barely breathe, but it’s worth it and there’s no time to get it together. Quick change!!

8:10-9:10 p.m. – Act One flies by. In our dressing room we play music, drink water, have a few laughs and of course snap and post a selfie before heading back to the stage for Act Two.

9:20-10:30 p.m. – Act Two. The second half of our show has SO many fun moments and I just soak them all up. Curtain Call is beautiful. There are some stifled tears and big smiles as the crowd jumps to their feet and goes nuts. We soak it up and go nuts right back at them in our encore. It is all really overwhelming in the best way.

10:40- 11 p.m. – I pour that bottle of tequila! The guys in our room raise a shot (which was a double, because I’m from New Jersey) and we cheers to a long run and to our love for this cast. Chris Ashley and Kelly Devine visit our room to give hugs and congratulations. We dress, dry our sweat and head out the stage door to a screaming crowd for autographs and pictures before heading to a party that our amazing producers are throwing for us at Bond 45.

11 p.m.-1 a.m. – We eat, we drink, we chat, we celebrate, and then we are TIRED. I consider my next cocktail but instead, force my phone out of my pocket and into my hand to click on that little pink icon and order myself a Lyft. Tomorrow, we have an early rehearsal call to do it all over again.