Greetings once again!
At Normandy Optical, I am fortunate to meet many patients who have fascinating stories to tell, either through the work they do or with their personal lives. From time to time I would like to share their stories with you. One such patient I have known since she was in 8th grade is Rosalie Burke. She graduated from NYU with a degree in drama and now works for Disney. You can read more about her accomplishments at www.RosalieBurke.com. I recently sat down with her to learn a little bit more about what she does. If only all of us could have a job like this. I hope you enjoy.
Me: So what are you doing now?
Rosalie: I left May 24 for 11 weeks of rehearsals in Toronto. After that, I leave in August for 6 months aboard the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship which will sail for 7 night cruises through the Caribbean. I will be the female swing, which is a full-time understudy for about 40 different roles in the various shows we do.
Me: I’m not well versed in theater. Could you explain your role as an understudy?
Rosalie: We do 3 shows a day on the cruise ship. I have to know 4-5 different characters in each show and be able to be any of those at any time.
Me: That is amazing! Does it ever get too crazy?
Rosalie: Once in the “Golden Mickey Showcase”, I had to play 3 roles in the same show. I played Snow White in the opening number, then got changed quickly to play a monkey dancing in the chorus, then had to change costumes again to play a Mulan warrior , and I finished the show as Snow White. All of that in about 45 minutes!
Me: It seems to me that being an understudy is difficult- having to know so many different characters. Do you enjoy that?
Rosalie: Yes. In the past I have been the lead for Cinderella, Snow White, and Mr. Potato Head (don’t laugh). I enjoy the role of swing because I have to be more versatile and there is never a dull moment (and it looks good on my resume).
Me: How long have you worked for Disney?
Rosalie: I first auditioned in 2009 after graduating from college. In 2010, I was selected to portray Cinderella and Snow White aboard the Disney Wonder which sailed out of Florida for 3-4 day cruises in the Bahamas. A few months ago, I just finished a 6 month commitment aboard the Disney Wonder which cruised out of Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera . I was the lead female swing then, too.
Me: What is it like living on a cruise ship for 6 months at a time?
Rosalie: Very different. I am lucky in that swings and vocalists get their own room, even though it is roughly the size of a walk-in closet. All of the other characters and dancers have to share a room that same size. The ship is huge- it has room for 2700 guests and 1000 crew members, so learning your way around is difficult. I try and get off the ship as much as I can.
Me: What is a typical day for you?
Rosalie: I perform in 2-3 shows a day which are about an hour long. It works out to about 30-40 hours per week. When I’m not performing, I am required to do 5 hours of character greeting per week. We also rehearse a lot, especially the first few weeks of the cruise, and we have safety training every week (remember, we are on a boat). I am also the dance captain so when I’m not on stage I observe and critique certain parts of the show for our weekly meeting.
I am lucky in that I have deck privileges, which means that I am allowed on all of the public areas of the ship. So I can hang out with friends at the pool or in the coffee shop if I want.
Me: What is the hardest part of your job?
Rosalie: Making friends and keeping friends. Every 6 months I am on a different ship with a whole new set of cast mates.
Me: How about the best part?
Rosalie: It is very humbling and gratifying to NOT take credit for my work . People love me and my performances not because I’m Rosalie, but because I’m, for example, Cinderella. It’s not about me right now.
Me: Thank you, Rosalie. It sounds like you are having an amazing start to your career. Good luck.