Laura Savage: Expressing Feelings Makes You Stronger

Laura Savage is an actress, singer, dancer, and gymnast who has performed in a myriad of productions both on the stage and on the screen.

Two years ago, Laura suffered an injury during a performance that threatened to end her career. Her journey to recovery from that injury forced her to turn inward, pay attention to her emotional health for the first time, and begin to heal what she didn’t realize was broken within her.

In this episode, we chat about:

  • The importance of sharing your story with others
  • The realization that your actions have an impact on everybody around you
  • How important it is to ask for and accept help when you need it
  • The struggles of going through a divorce
  • The huge difference expressing emotions can make in feeling more fulfilled as a person
  • How necessary it is to avoid becoming complacent and stagnant in our lives

Transcript with Laura Savage

Tim 0:19
Today I’m joined by Laura Savage who is a Chicago based actress, singer, dancer, gymnast and yogi. Two years ago, she suffered an injury during a performance of Newsies that potentially could have been a big deal and ended her career. Turns out it was a complete tear of her ACL.

And she had to go through reconstructive surgery, months of physical therapy, and then eventually was able to get back up and running. Laura, the word yogi, this is the first time I actually had to look up what a yogi was, I immediately thought of Yogi Bear. I’ve never actually heard that term before. It’s so you’re a it’s a yoga practice. Is that right?

Laura Savage 1:01
Yeah. Very simple. There’s no boo boo in this. Yeah. Added practitioner. I’m also certified yoga instructor although not teaching currently so.

Tim 1:16
Gotcha. So my kids and I saw Madagascar musical adventure. The day after Thanksgiving at the Maryann, out in the suburbs of Chicago. You were it was private the penguin right? I don’t know all the penguin names.

Laura Savage 1:31
Yes. I play private the penguin. Private. No. More lemur?

Tim 1:38
Yes, that’s right. You were also the lemur. So you were like, do you officially consider yourself a puppeteer? I mean, these are puppets right?

Laura Savage 1:46
You know, it’s funny you asked me that because I just the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine and I was like, No, I really should put puppeteer on my resume because this is actually my second time doing Madagascar and You know, it’s two different styles of Puppets that we use. So yeah, at this point in time, I would definitely consider myself a puppeteer. I feel like I’m good enough at it that I would feel confident if Lion King happen to ever want to hire somebody like me, which they will and I’m not type wise right for it, but I’d have no problem going in and doing a puppet workshop with them.

Tim 2:19
I think you should add it to your resume because especially the lemurs, I mean, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s like it was about half your height. It was like attached to your legs. You were controlling the expression, the arms and everything. I mean, it was you and the lemur were one. So I think you’re a puppeteer.

Laura Savage 2:36
Thank you. I think so now to maybe not the last time I did Madagascar, but definitely on the second time of it. I feel like I’m a bit more accomplished.

Tim 2:46
It was a fantastic performance. We were talking before I hit record that I haven’t seen the movie. So my son was explaining it all and he was very excited beforehand telling me about the penguins and how they Do the best characters and stuff. So yeah, congrats on being a penguin. You’re a highly regarded character.

Laura Savage 3:06
Thank you. Yeah, it’s so funny because they really don’t have a lot to do with the central plot point of the show. The show is really based around, you know, Marty and Alex and their friendship and journey. But it’s fun to get to the penguins. And it’s this little like, side plot into they’re just like, a big bunch of like, silly, fun little penguin. So I feel like that’s why a lot of kids gravitate towards that, because they’re just like, in their own little world, and especially private, the penguin that I play in particular, is just very happy go lucky and they just love life. So you know, it’s fun.

Tim 3:42
Yeah, absolutely. It was fun is a great way to put it was such a fun performance. So I do, I do want to talk about kind of your injury and you’re coming back from that because I think that’s there’s so much strength to be found in that story. But before that, I’m really curious. Being a professional actor is in my mind like a huge achievement.

That’s something that so many people I feel like want to do from whatever age but it’s I sort of feel like the odds are like stacked against you know folks like yourself and so I mean like a congrats on on achieving it and getting to do what I assume you love. But I’m curious Did you like was it like you’re three years old and like I want to be an actor and you took that path or was there some turning point in your life early on where you switched over to become an actor or go down that path?

Laura Savage 4:38
You know, it all kind of ties together I was definitely not a child that felt like I needed to be a star or onstage or performing all the time. I was a huge tomboy and love sports growing up I was a competitive gymnast and you know a center will forward so striker and soccer leadoff batter In softball, and it is swimming. So a lot of things and I just all of a sudden want to Todd dition for a community theater production of Annie when I was I think 11.

And my mom, she jokes about it, because, you know, she was like, Oh, no, I don’t know if I should let her audition. There’s hundreds of girls going and who knows if she’ll get apart and she’ll be upset, you know, and we got stablished in that day, and she kind of walked in with me, she didn’t really know what to do. She’s gonna go sign me in and I just was like, I got this and I walked over, I signed myself and I sat down. I was very chill about the whole thing and ended up getting in the show. I did not want to play Annie.

However, that was never my dream. I for some reason, wanted to play Molly, which was so silly, and I got to be testy, who’s the whiny one and I was so upset that I played the whiny one. But the choreographers noticed that I was, you know, a pretty good dancer and a gymnast as well. And so I got a very large task feature and you’re never fully dressed about a smile, and I think that I think that clinched it.

For a long time I was a kid I wanted to be an osteopath or some type of sports medicine doctor because I was so heavily in sports and movement with my body, which is funny because now you know how many years later after tearing my ACL, if you asked me if I could do any other job, I would probably be a physical therapist.

And, you know, I think that’s also partially why I got interested in yoga because Yoga is such a connection, I mean, mind body and breath. And for me, there’s a lot of a lot of ties between being an actor and and yoga and living authentically and vulnerably and present, you know, in every single moment, but that’s all tied to breathwork and movement, you know, moving through Osnos, which is exactly what we’re doing as actors and performers. How I feel so Nope, didn’t ever want to do this as a child, but kind of happened into it.

And I went to a performance High School in Las Vegas. I was actually there with Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars fame. She and I were silly girls together and Beauty and the Beast. She was always a fantastic dancer, just stunning, beautiful girl and just so so talented. And I went to college for it as well and I just couldn’t really give it up. So here I am. And I’m grateful to always be working. That’s definitely not the case for a lot of people are in our business. But I’m very blessed and lucky to be able to do so.

Tim 7:38
The high school you went to in Las Vegas was like a dedicated performing arts high school right like this is something that I assume you in like audition to get into. And this was like very, not stringent but this wasn’t a typical high school.

Laura Savage 7:54
Exactly. Yeah, you had audition. It’s not just for theater because there’s a music program. Dance. We even had International Studies. So there were kids there that were studying Japanese and Spanish. And we had a photography major. So there was, I mean, it ran the gamut. It was a very cool school. And I had a really hard time once I got accepted into the program, a part of me really wanted to go to my normal life, zoned high school and be a cheerleader and, you know, go to football games and like live a very normal, all like American high school experience.

I’ve got two older siblings, so I got to do that and do it. I felt like it was what I should be doing. But my mom said, you know, try this from our high school and if you don’t like it within the first two weeks, you can go back to your zoned High School. So I said, Okay, so I went and I was hooked. I couldn’t go to a normal school.

Tim 8:48
What were you hooked on? Was it just the fact that you got to do this, you know, to act and dance and all that kind of like a very focused or is it? The people?

Laura Savage 8:58
Yeah, you know, I thought it was going to be a completely different high school experience. And it wasn’t a lot of ways because we didn’t have any sports teams. But I mean, we had all of our normal general education credits, you had to take math and science and English and all of those classes, but you had your major study every single day as well.

So I had a theater class every single day versus I would have math every other day. So it felt like a normal high school experience, just with a little extra emphasis on theater. And I really liked that source of creativity, I hadn’t really gotten to dive into it as much since I was doing theater kind of recreationally for a hobby. So this felt like a more intense study. And I really, really took to it.

Tim 9:45
Did it feel competitive? like imagine as you just put it, you were doing this as a hobby. And then this kind of, I imagine the school is composed of all sorts of folks who like we’re also like, this is what I want to do and I’m going to focus on this Did you was there any bit of like, competitiveness that you enjoyed there? Or was it just kind of like you were personally growing and mastering your craft?

Laura Savage 10:08
A little bit of both. It was very cutthroat. Very similar to how it is in the real world. There are some people in this business that eat sleep, breathe, wanting to go to Broadway and it’s everything to them and that’s fine. That’s really wonderful for them. For me what I love to be on Broadway. Absolutely. Are you kidding me? Yes, send me out there. But I think it’s nice to have a balance of, you know, having friends and a family life and all these other wonderful aspects of life that actually make you a better, more rounded person which makes you a better actor.

So, you know, it was like that in high school. I didn’t enjoy that aspect of it. But I was pretty honest and brutal yourself in high school. You know, if people said nasty things about me, I’d been I didn’t take too kindly I was very much the kind of person that was like, if you want to say something about me, you just say it right to me, you know, why are you playing games? That’s kind of how I am as an adult as well. It’s funny, you change so much you don’t change at all.

Tim 11:15
Yeah, I think so much of like, our character is set, you know, definitely as a child, but I think it also those kind of formative adolescent years. Were you always like like that, even as a kid like someone who not forceful but not afraid to stand up for herself and push back?

Laura Savage 11:33
You know, and yes, and not just for myself, but also for others. If I see someone else being treated, unwell or malignant Lee, I don’t stand for it. I do not take to it very kindly at all whatsoever. I don’t see the point and having all that negativity, and you could say that I’m being negative by calling somebody else. But for me, it’s more of a cleansing.

Tim 11:58
No, I totally get that. December so almost two years ago. Yeah. December 20 2017. This is when you are doing a performance in Newsies out at the Marriott which I just want to say for anyone listening who’s not from the Chicago area the Marriott is this amazing theater out in the suburbs. That is the only and I you can correct me if I’m wrong but the only theater in the round theater I’m aware of in this area. Is there. Is that true?

Laura Savage 12:24
That’s correct. Up in Wisconsin, the fireside theater I believe it’s also in the round. But as far as in and around Chicago. This is the only one that is a true and the round theater.

Tim 12:37
There’s nothing like it.

Laura Savage 12:39
You’re very right about that.

Tim 12:43
Yeah. Oh, I didn’t even think about from your perspective, that’s got to be a whole different ballgame than a traditional stage.

Laura Savage 12:48
Oh, yeah. I mean, you can’t hide behind anything. You know, there’s no perceived em you if you miss an entrance, man, you’re running down an aisle and people see it and you know if your costume rips If your pants wet in the basket, somebody somebody sees it. So there’s not much hiding.

Tim 13:05
I never thought about that. So, so you’re doing Newsies at Mary on December of 2017. And you part of your performances a tumbling sequence off a table and you land in something didn’t feel right. Or maybe that’s putting it lightly.

Laura Savage 13:23
No, I mean, that’s pretty much accurate. It was a really odd night. That show Newsies is known for being riddled with injuries. I mean, we did 26 different versions of that show. Within You know, a two month span, we only did 11 shows with the entire original cast intact. And we did the first you know, how many shows and then that was it.

I mean, somebody was always out or injured or sick, or what have you. So that night is ticular one of our boys was playing crotchy he fell during the first act and got a couple kushan in the middle of the show, and we had to put his understudy on who was thankfully in the audience watching the show that night. So we already had one major injury.

And I was the dance captain on my show. And so during intermission, I’m walking around talking to all my dancers, and I’m like, Okay, everybody, keep your head in the game. You know, this is when injuries happen is when you know, we’re all amped up and riled up, you know, so reach like, stay calm, and like we’ll get through tonight you know, sort of a deal and then of course, the one who gets injured is me. I was getting a brandy off the table.

So essentially, it’s like a no handed cartwheel landing with two feet off of the table. And it’s a very common easy dismount that you typically would do off a balance beam I mean, it’s very elementary. As far as skills go, and I had done it at something times No problem, but for some reason that night I you know, flipped off the table.

I landed it felt as though my knee actually like went sideways. as disgusting as that sounds, and I Right in the fall, so I landed, it’s like my knees. You know, we’re like such a Britain too. And I looked down half expecting my leg to be bent the other way. And it wasn’t like, oh, okay, it’s kind of landed weird. All right, I’ll keep dancing.

It’s like I kept dancing, but it felt like I just couldn’t put any weight on it. It wasn’t even painful. It just felt weird. Almost as if, like, I didn’t have control over my leg, like a piece was missing in a way. And I knew that had a large lift section coming up where I was going to get tossed over one guy’s head and another guy would catch me. And I thought to myself, I can’t do this. I need to get off stage. So I kind of made like eye contact with a couple people I was supposed to dance with and made a gesture like, I’m out of here.

You know, if I hobbled myself up, you know, one of the aisles of the Marriott theater and hobbled to backstage and the boys you know, finish the dance number and they’ll come back to me Okay, we saw you we saw that you landed kind of funny. It looks like you twisted, are you okay?

And I said, yeah, you know, I’m gonna sit here for the rest of Show and I danced captains from the floor of the bathroom in the backstage hallway at the Marriott theater. You know, just letting people know Okay, you go here you do this, you do that until the end of the show.

And then I went to the hospital where I ran into the boy who got the concussion during the first act, he was still waiting to get a CAT scan, I believe. I got in there and they did some basic tests that it wasn’t broken, gave me a leg immobilizer and sent me home for the night thing I could go back to work in a couple days which seemed very wrong. This was right before Christmas, mind you.

So you know, they didn’t need a referral to a specialist who was actually a wrist and elbow specialist which didn’t make any sense to me cuz it was my left knee that had been injured. So the next day I got up and I had a lot of swelling, not much pain, though. Still, I was able to walk on it.

And I call the specialists and the very nice receptionist’s on the phone said no, everybody’s going out of town for the holiday can’t get you in. And I just was very upset. You know, you don’t understand. I’m a dancer. This is what I do for my job. I people are relying on me I have to get back to work. I have to get an MRI I need to know what is going on with my leg. And so she directed me to Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. That’s not a plug or anything, but they are quite wonderful.

Tim 17:28
I actually had a torn meniscus two years ago, three years ago. I got my surgery from them. That actually happened again this year, but that’s another story but so I can also vouch for Illinois Bone and Joint but again, not necessarily a commercial here.

Laura Savage 17:43
No, but they’re wonderful. And so I call him I got an appointment for the next day, which is Friday. So I went in and I you know things I have a firm believer that things happen for all the right reasons and all the right time because the doctor I was placed with is one of the four founding doctors of Illinois Bone and Joint like the best of the best, and he did the quit ACL test on me which if you’ve torn your meniscus that you probably did the ACL check on you, where they kind of target your knee to see if there’s resistance.

Because your ACL is essentially your your stabilizer in your knee, which is why I felt like my my leg went into it because I completely tore the the sucker the whole way through. I mean, just like blasted it, which is also why I didn’t have a lot of pain because there weren’t any nerve endings to really latch on and, you know, send me any signal.

So he tested it real quick. And he was like, yeah, you tore it, you’re gonna have to have surgery. We’ll do the MRI just in case but yeah, you tore it I’ll see you in like three weeks for surgery and walked out and I just was like, what, huh? You know, I’ve been a very healthy person my entire life. I haven’t I broke my arm when I was three because I was doing gymnastics on my sister’s bed, which was actually before I got fired. went into gymnastics.

So that’s how my parents knew. I had had a major surgery. So this was terrifying for me, you know, and it’s so funny how it all happens. I got put into a little MRI tube, you know, and you could sit in there for 630 to 45 minutes, you’d sit completely still while they do the imaging. So they gave me headphones to listen to music. And of course, the first song that comes on is I hope you dance by Liam Womack.

And I was like, oh, this is a cruel joke, this is so cruel. So there I am, like crying and the guy gets into my headphones. He’s like, are you okay? Like, Can I do anything for you? You just have to lay there and I was like, No, the song It’s just really sad and very, you know, poignant in my life, because I may not dance over.

Tim 19:46
Yeah, I mean, at that point when you find out I mean, so yeah, you’re not you’re not just an actor, which I mean, obviously an actor would care that their ACL is torn but you’re also a dancer. As you know, that’s that’s a lot of what you do. When you find out that It’s torn, first of all, and then you have to get surgery. I mean, what was running through your head? I imagine it was kind of like, Wait a second, this is like my livelihood. And not only is this a, a big deal, but I dance for a living.

Laura Savage 20:17
That was primarily what went through my head. It’s so funny, I wasn’t even concerned about my health. You know, if I, if I had a desk job, I’d have been like, oh, man, this is really terrible, but I’ll figure it out, you know, but because my entire career is based around movement, and especially for me, I mean, I’m really considered a dancer and a gymnast here in town. So I booked a lot of my work based on that. I immediately thought, what what am i worth anymore? I’m not going to be worth anything to my community.

his is what I do. And I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll dance the same way ever again. Or if I’ll dance again, period, I don’t know if I’ll do gymnastics and tumbling ever again. Does that mean I’ll get, I won’t get hired.

Because that’s part of the reason why I worked so much is because I have a little bit of an edge by being able to be a gymnast and do these extra, you know, things. So it was, it was terrifying for me and being a tomboy growing up, it felt like the ultimate failure like my body, I completely failed me. And what was I going to do now? What was I worth anymore? So it was very traumatic.

Tim 21:29
I imagine and it was three weeks later that you had the surgery. So like, how did you get to this three weeks? I mean, that must have been the most excruciating, like weight in your life.

Laura Savage 21:42
It was terrible. And of course, it being right there during the holidays. I you know, I’m literally just like laying on a couch. You know, and they can’t work out which I mean, I like to work out anyway, you know, so I’m sitting here like, Oh, um, you know, it’s holiday food. I’m gonna get fat. I’m so upset, my life is completely changing. And now I have to wait three weeks have surgery, what can I do, but I did a lot of research and I, I was also given a sports knee brace. So I was able to go to the gym and do a lot of like, upper body exercises, and seated biking. So anything that really wasn’t weight bearing I was allowed to do.

Tim 22:29
Wait a second. This is where we are very different. And I admire you so much. Because you tear your ACL, you’re laid up on the couch with a brace and you’re immediately thinking how can I go to the gym to at least do upper body strength? I feel like most people would have been like, Alright, I’m gonna just sit on the couch watching movies the past the time. How did you is that just kind of like that’s, that’s who you are. You’re like, I don’t care. I’m gonna get through this. I’m going to the gym, whatever it takes.

Laura Savage 22:56
Yeah, yeah, I don’t have time to sit here and pity myself, especially with like, I don’t know if that’s exactly the healthiest way to go about it. But I will say I, I’m not a big crier in life. It’s just not been. It wasn’t really how I was raised necessarily, which is really great in some ways, but at that point in my life I have never cried so much. So don’t think that I was like, very peppy and upbeat and like, it’s okay, I’ll bounce back.

I’ll hit the gym and do some weights and no big deal. Oh, no, it was it was definitely a struggle. And thankfully, I had a lot of really wonderful friends and family members who provided encouragement in every way, shape or form that they could. But I even kind of hit it from social media in my community for almost a week. I was just so terrified that people were gonna think less of me. I was weak, I was considered weak. It’s how I felt which is so silly.

Which is why I firmly believe all of this was supposed to happen in my life because that’s part of something I was missing. In my, myself, my core being my Laura was not a very vulnerable human and I learned to authentically be vulnerable, something I’m still working on, but um, you know, ever no one judged me for this. Everyone was here for me and was like you’re gonna bounce back if anybody can come back and listen to you.

You know, so here I was sitting here thinking, everyone’s gonna think I’m weak, no one’s gonna want to hire me again. You know, what am I worth? I’m worthless. I failed. I can’t I can’t when everyone was very supportive. Once I was able to say, you know, my story and say, I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Everyone came, you know, to support me. So it was a big life lesson for sure.

Tim 24:58
Yeah and I know exactly what you mean and I’m curious. Because I know exactly what you mean about like, you feel weak, you feel like you know, you don’t want people to know that you know this happened or that, you know, you might appear weak or you’re not strong enough.

What was that what it was like you you know for that first week or two holding the news kind of close to yourself you didn’t want people to think you were weak but like what made you or you know, within your head like, what made you feel that you were weak? I mean, was it the fact that you you know, you see been healthy all your life, you’re a strong dancer, successful dancer and that like a strong successful dancer, this shouldn’t happen to you and you kind of felt like, oh, that means I’m weak or was it some other reason?

Laura Savage 25:46
Yeah, I kind of felt like this doesn’t happen to me. It shouldn’t happen to me. I’m known for being so put together and the person you could always rely on, you know, Laura will always be there. I do a lot of understudy work. And a lot of dance happening. So I’m known for jumping in and going on for somebody to last minute or Oh, if somebody gets injured or hurt, Laura’s gonna help us all figure out where we need to go and what we need to do like this. I’m very reliable. This is what I’m known for. Here I am and I’m the one getting injured. I am the one that’s forcing everybody else to have to deal with my situation.

Tim 26:26
Oh, so by tearing her ACL this happening to you, you’ve in a sense, let everybody else down now. It’s like I felt. Yeah. Oh, that’s so tough. That’s so tough. I know exactly what you mean. It those are the moments I wonder, like, what is going on in our brains? Like, you know, how do we conjure that within our because I’ve been there, you know? Was it so then was it everybody once you told everybody and they were so supportive? Is that what kind of reverse that thought in your mind of like, Oh, I didn’t actually like sat down. It’s totally okay.

Laura Savage 27:03
It wasn’t totally okay. But it definitely helped. And to hear so many people, just saying, Laura, I’m here for you, you’re going to be fine. If anyone can do it, you can. I mean, that’s what I heard from everyone. And the term warrior kept coming up. Like once I had my surgery and was going through my seven months of physical therapy, rehab, everyone just kept saying your warrior, like you’re a badass, like, how are you doing?

And of course you’re doing this I could never do this. But of course you’re doing it. And I am once I had done my initial social media posts on Instagram, it’s funny, I was actually like in the gym, doing upper body like bicep curls with my knee brace on. At that point, I decided, you know, I’m going to post every time I’m going to rehab. I’m going to post about it every time I’m going through a struggle. I’m going to post about it and also every day selfishly to help me.

On Instagram, I was posting a random quote, just something that resonated with me for that day and sharing it just as a way to be like, this is where I’m at, this is what I’m thinking about and not not necessarily quotes that I came up with ones that I found as well. But maybe it’ll touch you in a certain way today, and the feedback was pretty incredible. It’s so funny how we feel like we don’t make any difference on anyone else’s life, you know, except for those who are like very tightly wound close to us.

But I had and still do have the answers and people who find my page or my posts and they’ll write to me saying, you know, I tore my ACL I’m a dancer what kind of a graph did you get? Which you know, did you get patellar and or our an autograph? You know, just asking about particulars and who did your surgery and how long was the rehab and how did it affect you in your life, you know, and it’s funny, that it’s, it truly feels like this was supposed to happen. To me,

Tim 29:02
You mentioned that like, we don’t realize how we affect other people’s lives. I am like, obsessed with that idea because this happens to me, like just saying it. Now I’m aware of this, you’re aware of this, we’re talking about it. But I’m not aware of it. Like I always forget, like that things I’m doing and saying and not even necessarily negatively, but positively to. They are affecting other people’s lives, even though they might not tell you about it like you are having an effect on someone else’s life. And it’s just like this weird. It’s so hard to like remain cognizant of that. It’s, you know, I’m glad that you were able to I feel like I struggle with that so many times.

Laura Savage 29:44
Oh, and believe me, I do feel especially it’s so funny, getting up and doing Madagascar, this one hour kid show where I’m dressed up in a cloud suit and acting with a penguin and a lemur attached to my legs. You know, it’s pretty silly and Goofy, but you man, there are some days we had a show on Saturday, there was a girl, she must have been about 10 or 11 years old and she had Down syndrome and she was sitting on the audience watching, and she was blowing kisses to my penguin.

And it’s such like a gut check reminder of I am holding a penguin, which is so silly, but I’m making a huge difference in this girl’s life right now, in this moment, she is experiencing true bliss, and joy, because I’m holding a puppet, you know, which is just so like my new image, it can be hard getting up and performing at 10am.

But we used to remind ourselves of things like that just like going through this crazy traumatic injury, me posting about my hardship, you know, and not being able to bend my knee. I mean, you’ve gone through the meniscus, you know, you understand but not being able to bend your knees and walk properly and just sharing that and people responding, you know, that that they can relate or they can’t believe like how craziness all as you know, we really do have a large effect on many people, you know, and like you said negatively and positively and not just with our actions with our words, and it’s hard to remain present. Remember that? For sure.

Tim 31:14
Yeah. And I mean, speaking, making impact, you know, using Madagascar as an example, the show I was at, with my, my two kids. My son loves, like, behind the scenes, especially if he’s really getting into movies, and he makes little movies with his friends and he loves why you just watched like the documentary for like two hours about how they made Star Wars.

And so when you lead a q&a session after a performance, where you went around the crowd and you got questions from children and people had questions and then all the actors including yourself answered that, you know, I don’t know if that’s like just routine for you, or I mean, you seem to really be enjoying it.

But if it’s just kind of, you know, part of the show, I think about, you know, My son, Noah like, I loved it. He loved And I think about, you know, like the past he could take in life and obviously, I don’t know what paths he’s gonna take. But, you know, there might have been a question about how you the theater runs or you know, the different you guys discuss the different roles, the production designer, the costume designer, there might be a question that night that because you did that QA.

He was inspired, you know, to go down some path just like you did you know, after you were cast in any that he may not have gone down, had you not done that QA? Like I think about that, like you may you, um, you definitely had a positive impact on him. But Fast Forward 10 years, who knows, maybe you completely affected positively his course in life.

Laura Savage 32:46
And you know, and I hope so, we do the Q and A’s they are a part of the theater for young audiences, the shows, and that’s a main reason why we do it is to let kids know Yes, it’s all Great if you want to get up on stage and pretend to be a hippo, but you might be a little bit shy, and maybe you don’t want to sing and dance, or maybe you aren’t the best dancer in the room or what have you, or you just would really prefer to work on town or costumes or props or creating puppets.

And you can do that too, you know, and it doesn’t matter, you know, it’s like, you could be a boy or a girl or however you identify. But if you want to be creative and imaginative, you can do anything you want to do. So, it is a lot of fun. I do enjoy doing it. We get some silly questions here and there, but um, I try to steer it towards the ones that might make a little bit more of an impact.

Tim 33:40
You were fantastic as a kind of like a almost like a game show host. I mean, you definitely naturally have that talent. You’re running around. You got the next question. You were ready with the next one after that. And I was I was impressed. I was like, this is a you know, they know what they’re doing here.

Laura Savage 33:54
Yeah, I can’t take full credit for that because I’ve been a part of many kids shows In the past, and I’ve watched many other people do it and beautifully so I’ve learned from the best. And I think the crowd suit definitely helps add to that host kind of vibe.

Tim 34:12
The cloud suit. Man, this is an audio podcast and I don’t think I can post pictures but the cloud suit was the best.

Laura Savage 34:18
They’re pretty funny. They just really are this little two button suit made out of sky blue cloud material.

Tim 34:27
Absolute best, like I hope you get to like after the show’s over, take one home.

Laura Savage 34:31
I think they’re pretty funny but only if I wear the bright orange pleather Doc Marten boots with it.

Tim 34:37
Those were easy to I was just, I think you the penguins had the best costumes, because they were just so fun and like it just puts a smile on your face.

Laura Savage 34:47
I agree this is really cool and has been a beautiful design by Casey’s press. You know, somebody went sure as a kid thought I want to do theater but I don’t want to be on stage. So you know, he somehow was impacted and now you Yeah,

Tim 35:01
There you go. You mentioned earlier kind of that that first week after your diagnosis, diagnosis, your identification of the ACL being torn that you didn’t you didn’t feel comfortable sharing you felt like you were kind of weak. You mentioned though that like once people you told people and they were so supportive, you realize you had in the past like felt very vulnerable.

What do you mean by that?

Laura Savage 35:34
I have always been the person that is fine. I’m fine. How are you are? I’m fine. You sure? Yeah, I’m fine. Because for me, it was like I got this. Whatever problems I have, I don’t need any help. I got it. I’m fine. I’ll handle it on my own. And this was a problem I could not handle on my own obviously had to have you know, surgeons and doctors and physical therapists and friends and family too.

Rely on after my surgery they gave me this called a game ready machine essentially, it’s like a big tube, like a sleeve for your leg and it’s hooked up to a two with like an ice bucket and that runs and so it pumps ice cold water, so it’s icing your leg while also doing compressions every 20 minutes. And so you have to be attached to that pretty much for a week straight.

And you have to refill that ice bucket every like three hours, you know, and so I couldn’t get up and hobble to the fridge you know, in the next room to get more I so I had to depend on other people. Which that in of itself is so hold vulnerable for most people, especially for me though, just because I’ve always been I’m the giver. I’m the helper I will do things for others. I don’t need anyone to do anything for me. So this is a major flip in my world.

Tim 37:00
Absolutely, you know, it just clicked for me there was something. When I was reading that article from the photographer where I kind of read about your story here about the ACL tearing. There was something that like, drew me to that story. And now I know what it is that you just described to me like, that’s exactly who I am as well.

I am someone who was always the person who, you know, I like to say I was independent. I didn’t need help and I love to help others. And I may still love to help others, but the giver didn’t need help. You know, I don’t, I don’t need your support. I’m fine. I’m fine. Just so he said, I’m fine. I’m like, Oh my God, that’s me. And then, you know, so I had a torn meniscus and that twice now but the first time was both times weren’t terrible.

But so, you know, the past over the past year, basically, my now ex wife and I got separated and then divorced and that happened earlier this year. And, you know, if that was the moment or Just like you had that revelation of like, Wait a second, I need the support of others right now. I felt that too. And I see now I was so drawn to your story is like you just described a how I felt and who I was and then be kind of that same transformation of like, Wait a second, it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to say I need help. And actually, I’m not weak. If I say that.

Laura Savage 38:28
Exactly. And, Tim, you’re gonna think I’m crazy and making it up. But you and I are meant to be having this conversation right now. Because my knee surgery and pair, I firmly believe was the universe saying you need to sit down and reevaluate your life because I actually have just been recently going through the process of being divorced as well. So it’s just kind of funny that you felt like my story resonated with you which I didn’t think I talked about my divorce in that article and that blog, but there are definitely underlying tones.

The piece talking about how, you know, you realize that you just have to sit back and reevaluate and you know, when you’re injured and when you need the most help, is when you really find out who’s there for you know, and it’s, it’s hard. It’s that my mother’s a marriage and family therapist, and she likes to talk about kids. The big question for kids is, are you there for me?

And it’s actually a question we continue not realizing that we continue asking throughout our entire lives is are you there for me? Are you there for me? And then these very traumatic moments, we are asking that are you there for me, you know, and you really find out who is and and who isn’t. So,

Tim 39:48
I love that. And I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, yeah, we are always asking, are you there for me whether we realize it or not?

Laura Savage 39:55
Oh, yeah, we could sit here put on a beautiful facade of I’m fine. I don’t need you to be there for me. But that’s just a stifling the small child or person inside who is saying, No, but actually, I do need someone there for me. But we’re overloading it, you know, and pushing them down and saying, I have to be here for everyone else. You don’t get to ask because we’re doing for others. So why is it that we have such a hard time allowing others to do for us? And that’s what being vulnerable is, you know, you have to be vulnerable in order to accept help.

Tim 40:39
Absolutely. That is something I learned so much over, you know, the past year and a half, in speaking of your story is speaking to me. I saw you posted on Instagram and your birthday, and I love this post. You said birthday reflections are always interesting. No, I’m not where I thought I was going to be at this point in my life. By society’s standards. I’m sure I’m failing. But my standards for myself do not perfectly aligned with societies and in so many ways, I am much more of a complete human than I ever thought it would be. Cheers to a major year of growth, Authenticity, vulnerability, accountability, happiness in breathing.

Laura, I read that and I was like, you’re speaking to me like, yeah, Cheers to that major year of all of those things. And like, I just read that and I like stopped in my tracks. And I was like, like you said, I think we were meant to be speaking right now, because I just, I could not have connected to that any more than I did. If that makes any sense.

Laura Savage 41:33
Yeah, it makes complete sense. And even. It sounds silly even hearing somebody else say that to me. So hearing my words and your voice. I mean, I’m, teared up right now. Because it’s hard and it’s always a process. You know, and no, I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect and perfect, frankly, is boring. Who wants it anyway, but, you know, I really believe that here in life. We are constantly changing and evolving and growing, and for a long time, I was very stagnant.

And I think it’s because I wasn’t being vulnerable. And I really think that the universe sat me down and said, We got to shake things up. You’re not you’re not listening. So we’re going to physically sit you down. So you have to listen. You have to reevaluate, you can become more of the person that you’re supposed to become because the path you’re on right now, you’re not, you’re not going to make it, you’re not going to make it to where you’re supposed to be.

So, you know, sat me down so that I could reevaluate, figure things out and get back on a better path and a better journey, which is why which you probably saw, but I was using the hashtag, journey back to savage because I really feel like I’m coming back to being a savage person, which I know some people like, feels like a negative like, term and some people are really all about how it’s like a catchphrase now. But for me Just coming back to my roots of Yes, I’m a giver and I can still be that person. But I’m gonna be such a better giver if I can learn to accept help as well.

Tim 43:27
Man, that’s the key. I love that you said that. Like, I think that’s such the key that I never realized that I’m guessing you know, you probably shared that that you actually can be better at what we enjoy of helping others and being of service by accepting that same help and service from others and like, singing out loud right now, it seems so obvious, but I feel like I’m rediscovering this epiphany right now is like we can be so much better if we’re actually willing to accept help.

Laura Savage 43:50
Absolutely. And don’t get me wrong. It’s something I struggle with on the daily. You know, like, it’s hard like the part and you have to ask for help and not just ask for it, but you have to accept it. Because it’s like here I am offering And if somebody rejected my help, I would think well, why I’m offering it. Why would you reject it? So why do I want to do that to other people?

Tim 44:12
Absolutely.

Laura Savage. 44:14
So simple yet so difficult.

Tim 44:19
You mentioned or I mean, you wrote in that Instagram post on your birthday that by society standards, I’m sure I’m failing. I, I think I know what you mean by that. But do you ever feel like that, that you’re failing? Because let me let me tell you this. Like, I don’t know how you view yourself in terms of like, you know, being professional actor and like, we’re on that scale. You are, like you said, You said you’d love to go on Broadway.

So I don’t know if you view like you still have achievements you want to get to and you’re not at the top of your game or whatnot. But like, from my point of view, like coming to the Marriott theater, and seeing their performance, and then you know, seeing the credits and everything else you’ve been in my mind you’re like insanely successful because you are a professional actress.

Like I said, I feel like the odds are stacked against anyone who wants to be an actress. So you doing this for a living? I would never ever, in my mind believe you are in any way failing. But I know that like in our own minds, that’s not always the case. Like, even if we feel like we are, where we want to be, we still feel like we’re failing to some extent. I was just curious if…do you ever get that feeling that like you’re failing to some extent?

Laura Savage 45:35
I do and often. Not so much at Chicago theatre as far as my career goes in Chicago. It is a really wonderful, very full one. I’ve worked at all of the major theaters. There are some I haven’t worked out, you know, as far as they do a lot more straight plays. So non musical theater, which I could pursue more of, but as far as the major musical theater houses go, I’ve performed all of them and really have enjoyed all my work. There, but I haven’t tried New York yet.

So that’s actually what I’m going to be doing at the beginning of the year is heading out there just to see if New York and I vibe, you know, Mitch go out for a couple months before I have my gigs lined up for next summer, which I’m not allowed to talk about quite yet because it’s not released. You know, the casting the missus.

But, um, so yeah, it’s a little bit like a failure because at this point in time in my career, I should have tried New York, I should have succeeded in New York, etc, etc. So that’s a bit of that. But then also, like, within that post, I was talking about my marriage as well, you know, that I have so many friends who are married or having kids or have had kids or you know, so from society’s standard, I should be married.

Yes, I should have kids. Yes. But, you know, that’s not everyone’s path in life, you know, and that’s okay. And I’m essentially not rebranding, but I’m recouping, and it’s exciting. My life was getting very stagnant for a while and so now it’s been majorly shaken up. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna run with it.

Tim 47:22
I love that. Man, we really were meant to speak. It’s like, it’s scary, scary parallel, but I know exactly what you mean about, you know, like, you mentioned this point in your life, you know, you’re supposed to be married with kids or whatnot. And, like, I similarly, like sometimes I feel like you know, I’ve I’ve failed now, you know, I’m 34 I have a nine in a five year old love i’d hesitate there at home my daughters. Yeah.

But you know, so we you know, you got married, you had kids, you were married for you know, over a decade and then now you’re not in you know, wait a second, like that’s a failure. You’ve done it backwards. And now what? But the way you said like, you’re excited. You’re rejuvenated, you were stagnant. You’re rebranding, In a sense, like, Laura, those those words are exactly how I’m feeling. And I share that sentiment, like, it’s so hard to, to look out that window and say like, No, no, I’m not failing. This is this is okay, this is different, but it’s okay.

Laura Savage 48:20
Yes. And it’s okay to move through the space of I’m failing, because believe you, me, oh, I was like, I’m failing. I have failed, I failed big time hard. And that takes time to move through that headspace, you know, and move on to a better one, where you can look at your, you know, I can see that my, you know, my x is doing well in his life, and I’m nothing but happy for him, you know, and it makes me happy and excited to look forward to all of the wonderful things that I’m going to have in my life and that we shared our time together. That’s what it was.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But we I feel like society tells us that there’s so much wrong with that. Which is funny because my parents are divorced. So I’ve even come from A house where, you know, I had to drive to be, you know, just like my parents and have this long, wonderful life together. You know, mine came from a split home. There’s nothing wrong with that. I guess that’s really what I’m finding out is that there’s nothing wrong with having feelings, expressing those feelings. Because really, it makes you a stronger, more fulfilled human.

Tim 49:44
I love that. It really does. I love that. In that article I read about your ACL, you wrote that, in many ways this devastating event helped to heal what I didn’t know was broken within me. We talked about how you definitely realized that you could stand to be more vulnerable, what else was broken within you?

Laura Savage 50:09
Again, hearing somebody else say my words. It’s just like, whoa, whoa. It really was. It was that it was that I had to be so strong and so capable all the time. And that is not the case. You know, it’s, there’s so much beauty in it. And I hate to say being weak. There’s strength and weakness, but I did not know was there. I was very much raised, you know, as a tomboy, and that crying was a weakness. We didn’t show that, you know.

And I’ve gone through this now and like I said, I cried so much more at that point in my life than I probably had up into until that point in my life. So I didn’t know that that part of me was essentially broken. I thought, I’m fine. I’m capable, I’m working, and I’m living. And I’m thriving, aren’t I? It’s like, wait a minute.

You are in many face value, you know, you were saying you read my credit looks like I’ve had this great career in Chicago and I have, so at face value and I was married, and you know that, like, so many face values, I was ticking all the boxes. But as far as internally, emotionally, spiritually, I was not at all whatsoever. So I didn’t realize that I was neglecting a major part of myself, I wasn’t nurturing myself and therefore Frankly, I don’t think I was the best partner that I couldn’t be in my past marriage.

And so it’s all been very humbling and a good awakening of how much better I can be. Not just for a partner because again, if you can accept and receive help, you’re gonna be a better giver, but also just to myself, you know, giving to myself out it’s so easy to get to others and giving to yourself difficult So yeah, I guess it’s just funny that I put it so it sounds so harsh now when I think about it I don’t know if I’d say broken I guess I’d say maybe missing a link or not checking a box. I don’t know.

Tim 52:24
It’s funny that you say it sounds so harsh because like, from my point of view again, it didn’t seem harsh it just seemed like wow, you just wrote what I wish I had written I love the words you use. I also love how you said a matter of checking the boxes that you were just checking the boxes at face value in how you realize now that like, you know, maybe maybe you weren’t, you know, as fulfilling as a partner as you could have been.

You know, I totally share that sentiment like on my end, I look back and realize oh, okay, like, this is part of it like I am not, or I was not fully present in myself. I was not fully aware of Where I was broken. So yeah, I don’t actually feel that that’s very harsh at all. I think it’s pretty spot on.

Laura Savage 53:21
I’m glad that it resonates with you It definitely there was me at the time for sure, which is why I wrote it. But I guess now it’s been about a year since I wrote that about we’re now about 10 months. So it’s kind of comforting to know that I’m someone different place with it. You know, I’m glad that I don’t look at it and think I was broken. You know, and now because now I think I was missing. I was missing out I was lacking as opposed to, I guess broken does apply because if something’s broken, you can fix it.

Tim 54:01
There you go.

Laura Savage 54:03
It’s good to reflect.

Tim 54:07
It is. I find it’s so good to reflect and then my whole mantra is generally as long as today is better than yesterday I’m moving in the right path. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a little bit better or if it’s exponentially better, but as long as today’s better than yesterday then then I’m on the right path.

Laura Savage 54:28
I would agree with that.

Tim 54:30
I saw on your your personal website or you know your your I don’t know how to call a portfolio but I don’t know if you call it a portfolio in your business. But you had in the top left under your name, it says every bit the triple threat, and I was really curious what that means.

Laura Savage 54:45
Oh, so that’s a direct quote from some, some reviewer from some show. I wish I could tell you right off the top of my head. But a triple threat in our business would be singer dancer actor. So 123 talents, which is funny now because now you really need to be an I joke. I actually say that I’m a quadruple threat because I tumble I’m a gymnast as well. But now the big thing is to be a quadruple threat and to play an instrument as well. That’s the big kicker.

Tim 55:14
Oh, wait, so that would be dancing, singing, acting and playing an instrument? Oh, wow. Do you have any instruments under your belt?

Laura Savage 55:24
Yeah, just some real basic guitar and mandolin and piano just real basic. I really should work on it.

Tim 55:34
But I love how even even if they’re basic, you have three instruments, not just one.

Laura Savage 55:38
Oh, yeah, yeah, you know why? Because if you go to college for musical theater you you learn piano because you have to be able to flunk out you know, songs when you’re learning for auditions and then I used to be in a country band at one point so learning guitar mandolin for that was was a part of it.

Tim 55:58
I saw that, what was it? When I was doing some research on this was called was it country? No Cowboy Jukebox.

Laura Savage 56:05
Yeah, Cowboy Jukebox. Yeah, I’m no longer with them. My ex created the band. It was his mission to have a country band. And they couldn’t find a girl singer, how many years ago and I was like, Well, I can sing country I’ll fill in. And I loved it. I loved it so much. And I got to meet a lot of really wonderful country artists and sing like opening sets. For a lot of them. We played a really large festival in Michigan called faster horses. So it was a really great, wonderful, different type of performing from what I was used to.

And it really opened me up and a lot of ways to how it was performing in theatres made me much more relaxed and just not so technical, used to be a very technical by the book kind of an actor, which actually kind of makes you a bad actor and because you’re not authentic, you’re robotic. So it allowed me to just be more of myself or bring more of myself to my work.

Tim 57:18
You mentioned that so come the new year you’re going to try out New York, and kind of see if it jives with you. What do you what are you most excited about there? Is it? Is it just as much about trying New York, the theater scene and kind of that whole new world of a theater and acting? Or is it just as much about that as it is just kind of like, this is the next iteration of Laura and Laura’s life?

Laura Savage 57:43
You know what? It’s because they I mean, I’ve worked with a handful of New York clatter version directors, so they know me, but I really feel like I’m excited because they don’t New York doesn’t know me. So there are no preconceived notions about what parts I should play or shouldn’t play. I’m essentially a blank canvas. I can go out there and I can be and who I want to be and do what I want to do and audition for what I want to audition for. I’m not stuck in a box. And that happens here. understandably so.

Tim 58:19
Gotcha. So it’s kind of a whole new world of opportunity. And it sounds a little bit like I don’t know if you’re like me, but I love when there is a blank slate ahead of me where I almost can’t, I can’t see what the end is gonna look like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out. But all I see is a blank slate of opportunity. That’s kind of what the sounds like for you.

Laura Savage 58:40
Yes, and I’m definitely a Libra. And that means I have a hard time making decisions. But this is one that I’m able to make, because I know that I’m coming back to Chicago next summer for work. So I know that I will be in New York first turn on time. It’s not a complete overhaul move of my life. It’s like a little dating period between me in New York and in my work really well and I might want to come back and try it out a little bit more or I might be there and I might hate it.

And then I can come back to Chicago. You know, which I already know, I love it here, you know, and I have a community here, you know, and theaters I love to work at. So this is like a safe space for me now. So I need to, I gotta try something new get shaken up a little bit. I love that.

Tim 59:30
I love how you say it’s a safe space. And I got to shake it up a little bit. I think that’s probably so important for us all to do, somewhat regularly in our lives. And it doesn’t have to be drastic, I don’t think if you don’t want it to be but yeah, just kind of shaking it up. If we’re starting to feel a little bit content, you know, change something up a little bit.

Laura Savage 59:54
Yeah, it’s so funny how often we limit ourselves. You know, I was with a friend the other night and he was playing hockey, and he was like, you know, let’s skate beforehand. You know, it’s open ice, we should, you know, come out and skate. And I was like, yeah, and then we got to the rink and I was like, I don’t know if I really want to skate because all these kids are out there like with their hockey sticks, like slapping the puck around and everything and in my brain. I’m like, Oh gosh, like a popsicle hit me in the face or something.

And like I, you know, I’m a performer, I have to protect my face. Like, it’s like the whole thing. And then it’s like, why am I limiting myself? Just put on the skates and get on the ice and just skate around? What’s the problem? You know, so even doing something as small as that just shaking it up a little bit, you know, trying a new hobby or what have you, you know, we just we get so comfortable and complacent. And then we’re stagnant. And then the universe tells your ACS, that you change that.

Tim 1:00:55
I hate to say it, because I mean, what you went through is, you know, is so painful. But I think you were meant to tear that ACL, unfortunately, so to speak. The universe probably did do that for a reason.

Laura Savage 1:01:10
I really believe so. And a lot of people were like, not they didn’t really understand, what I meant by that, you know, and it took me a little bit of time to realize, I say probably a good after I say toward in December, probably by about February into March is when I started to realize, Oh, this is why this happened. Okay? I’m gonna surrender to that. And I’m gonna listen, I’m going to really sit down and I’m going to really focus and listen, you know, because we, it’s the difference between being a listener and being an active listener. I don’t think I was being an active listener.

And so then, of course myself to do so and major changes have happened. And that’s not to say it’s been easy. It’s definitely been hard and it’s, you know, definitely had its ups and downs, but it feels like a large energy shift has happened for me and I’m really looking forward to see where it goes.

Tim 1:02:11
Laura, I cannot thank you enough for, for taking the time to chat. You know, we went through all sorts of technical difficulties prior to recording and we got this working and thank you so much. I mean, I really do truly believe that we were meant to, to chat about all this and I’m so excited to, to put this out there. And, you know, hopefully others I, I always take some notes during these these episodes just because I I’m learning and I got so many notes here. So I hope others are able to, to pull these nuggets out of this as well. But thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Laura Savage 1:02:42
Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. I you know, I love talking about this experience. And that’s what we have to do, right if we don’t share our experiences. How can others learn from them? It goes back to what we said earlier, you know, we’re always having an impact on somebody else. So you got share your story, somebody with one nugget from it.