Theatre performers are as much athletes as they are artists, and ESPN’s series Sport Science has done the legwork to prove it.
As the investigative series proved with The Lion King, Broadway performers match (and sometimes outdo) professional athletes. Broadway’s Major Attaway, who makes his debut as Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, wore a bioharness to track his heart rate, respiratory rate, and physical movement during a recent performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
When at rest in his dressing room, Attaway clocks in at about 14 breaths per minute and a heart rate of 73 beats per minute. As he approaches the stage, his breathing increases to 24 breaths per minute and his heart rate to 155 beats per minute—thanks to an influx of adrenaline.
During the epic number “Friend Like Me” alone, Attaway takes 888 steps—equivalent to 23 NBA basketball courts. As John Brenkus of ESPN reports in the video above, “Studies have shown average humans have trouble talking when they’re at about 90 percent of their max heart rate. An expertly trained actor can perform more than half of ‘Friend Like Me’ at over 92 percent of his max. And their average heart rate can still be at more than 80 percent of their max. That’s a greater physical exertion than we expect to see from a runner during an actual marathon.”
Clearly, wish-granting isn’t for the faint of heart.
To find out how Attaway booked his Broadway gig as the Genie, click here. To watch him sing through the songs that paved the way on his road of auditions, watch below: