Fearless and Fabulous: Meet Mary Beth Donahoe
Mary Beth Donahoe, of the national tour of Mean Girls, discusses her love of staying organized on tour, her Passion Planner, and recharging mentally & physically.
Mary Beth Donahoe (aka MBD) is a DELIGHT! From her laugh and beautiful bouncy curly hair, to her incredible talent on stage, she is a true force of nature. Currently, she's serving us ultra fabulousness on the national tour of Mean Girls as a member of the Ensemble/Understudy (Cady/Gretchen/Adult Women). She has previous touring experience on the NETworks production of Disney's Beauty & The Beast, as Ensemble/Understudy (Belle).
Mary Beth and I both are graduates of the Theater department at Ohio Northern University, both members of Delta Zeta sorority (woo!), come from Buckeye roots, and share a bounty of mutual friends through working in professional theater. MBD hails from Lakewood, Ohio and is the eldest of 5 children of the Donahoe clan. While her mailing address for the past 5 years has been in NYC, she has been insanely busy working around the country at regional theaters! You may have seen her grace the stage at wonderful places like Paper Mill Playhouse, Westchester Broadway, Maine State and many more (check out her extensive resume here).
She was gracious enough to answer my 100,000 questions via email while traveling from Columbus to Cincinnati on a bus travel day.
Mary Beth has many highlights from tour life, but her favorite moments come when she reconnects with friends and family. "Meeting friends and family at the stage door after the show is unlike any other feeling. My voice teacher from college came to see the show in Columbus and when I saw her afterwards, we both were crying. It was so meaningful to have studied this craft with her so closely for so long and to see where all that work has taken me. It was such a special moment."
On her days off, you can find her journaling at a local coffee shop, using her alone time to recenter, relax and give her body a break. She's found that this tour requires this mental and physical stillness more than usual. Later on, she might call a friend, find a great restaurant or walk around the neighborhood.
"If we're in town during a big event or there's a must-see attraction, I'll often do that in the evening. We've gone to Niagara Falls, an MLB playoff game in Minneapolis, and I actually snuck home to my parents' house in Cleveland on a day off!"
While she occasionally rooms with cast mates, she finds living solo a great way to keep work relationships in balance and not put too much pressure on one person. "It's important to me to be with someone who is conscious of sharing a space and follows a similar schedule to mine. Being forthright and communicative about your needs in that moment (Can I keep the light on? Do you mind if I make a phone call?) usually assuages any roommate frustrations."
The one task which irritates her? "Laundry! It's just cumbersome and inconsistent. Sometimes it's in the hotel, sometimes there aren't facilities on site. Usually you have to pay for it, sometimes with quarters, you never know how long the machines take, you don't have a drying rack accessible, you don't know if the dryer will fry your clothes or leave them damp. It sounds menial, but it requires just enough logistical planning to be a nuisance."
ORGANIZING ON TOUR
A Girl & Her Planner
MBD's favorite organizing tool is her planner! Yes, friends, my heart is SO happy to hear that. At the beginning of 2019, she started using her Passion Planner and never looked back. "I am a dedicated paper planner person and often take time to sit down and write out when I have rehearsals, when friends are coming to see the show, and when I have time to explore."
However, she uses that baby for more than just planning her schedule. "When I tell you that I have accomplished more personal and professional goals than I thought possible at the beginning of the year, I'm not exaggerating even a little bit. I truly surprised myself with the progress I've made in successfully living a life that feels authentic to who I am."
Management for Body & Soul
One of the hardest things manage on tour is finding time to decompress your mind and body. MBD finds comfort in creating routines which allow her to recenter. "Beyond the basics, I try to create routines for myself to maintain my mental and physical stability by journaling, rolling out my muscles each morning, calling friends and family often, finding a yoga class, and seeing our physical therapist multiple times a week."
Sexy Suitcase, Sexy Work Station & Sexy Shark
This lady really has her shit together when it comes to packing, unpacking and all things that come in between. She relies on a system of categorized packing cubes (which you can read more about here). While she says she identifies as an over-packer, she finds tour packing allows her to focus on the finite space to keep the amount of items to a relatively consistent level. "It's different than packing for a vacation where you're making decisions as to what to bring the whole time. On tour, everything gets packed up and put in its place the same way every time."
She likes to take her time to settle into her hotel room whenever possible, by ritualistcally unzipping her packing cubes in the hotel dresser drawers and positioning her toiletries just the way she likes.
She feels she has almost perfected her dressing room station to her liking, but wants to find a solution for her compacts. Don't worry, I emailed her multiple options (like this, this and this) as soon as I read that part of her email. *sparkle ping*
Also, she gets to be a sexy shark in the show, which is incredible and needs to be mentioned. (See Below)
Trunks are the Parent's Basement of the Road
In addition to her two suitcases, she also is blessed with a trunk AND space in her parent's basement. She's able to easily ship seasonal clothes and lesser used items home to Ohio whenever she needs. Her parents send her what she needs when she needs it (Man, Parents really are THE BEST). "Having a trunk is a total game changer. It's how I travel my yoga mat, extra toiletries, shoes for special occasions, my diffuser, cozy sweatshirts, all the good stuff. A lot of those 'what if' items end up in there. I'll send items home to my parents when I realize I don't actually use them very frequently."
Schlepping A Fur Coat?
As you may know from your experience (or reading other tour folk interviews on this blog), seasonal wardrobe packing can be very tricky. MBD has taken time to look at her tour schedule and make future plans for packing. Many tour people use Rent the Runway for opening night parties and special occasions. MBD says her cast mates have taken an even more adventurous route. "They use websites like Rent The Runway or Nuuly to rent seasonal clothing and send things back when the weather changes! I actually think that's a clever way to have fun clothing items on tour without needing to schlep your fur coat with you to Florida in the spring."
Mary Beth is represented by Sean McKnight of The Hybrid Agency.