NEW YORK, NY (WAVE) - If you noticed the actors and dancers of The Wiz looking especially nimble during Thursday night's live performance on NBC and WAVE 3, you can credit an Elizabethtown native for that.
Doug Cecil, a 1985 graduate of Elizabethtown High School, has been the only on-site massage therapist for all three live musicals NBC has staged over the last few years: The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and now The Wiz.
Some well-connected friends helped Cecil land the gig.
"About two years ago when they first started doing the TV musicals at NBC, I was close friends with and had clients that were the choreographers, and numerous actors in the show were clients and friends also, and they all requested massage therapy for preventative maintenance during the show," Cecil explained. "Since they already know a massage therapist, they invited me to come out and be a part of the support staff."
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Cecil said the pace behind the scenes of The Wiz has been frenetic, particularly because it's far more dance-intensive than NBC's two previous live musicals.
"It's pretty hectic because there's a lot going on at all times, and these people rehearse for many, many, many hours a day, 10-plus hours a day," Cecil said. "I was there for about eight of those hours, and it's like a rapid-fire triage. As soon as I'm done with one person, there's another person walking in because this set of people might be on set doing rehearsal, and another two groups are standing by waiting. So while they have idle time, if they're not rehearsing on another stage, they'll come in and see me, and it's literally 20-minute sessions where we hit very site-specific areas. These dancers are doing, especially in this show, they're doing very high-intensity dance, ballistic movements, lots of repetitive movements, so there's lots and lots of legs, hips, low backs that need attention."
Cecil spends about eight-and-a-half months out of the year traveling the country with the New York Yankees as the team's sole licensed massage therapist. He's been with the Yankees for five seasons so far. Previously, he held the same job with the Texas Rangers, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays. During the off-season, about 98 percent of Cecil's clientele consists of Broadway performers.
"The type of service that I do during the baseball season is very similar," Cecil explained. "Both the stage actors and dancers are every bit as athletic as the baseball players - in some cases even more so - but they both do repetitive motion-type things, and so you see a lot of the same types of injuries."
Cecil said he enjoys serving both of his client bases.
"The two different fields, the actors and the baseball players, they're similar in their athleticism, but completely opposite as far as different walks of life," he said. "They're 180 degrees different, so that keeps it very, very interesting to me."
Massage therapy is Cecil's second career. He switched gears about 13 years ago, when he was in his mid-30s, because he'd become unhappy with his human resources job at a Florida hospital. He said he finds that he's better suited to working in the sports, entertainment and health fields.
"It's certainly been a wonderful job to have. I enjoy it thoroughly," Cecil said. "I tell everyone I haven't had a day of work yet because I enjoy what I do so much that I feel like I get to go to the ballpark or I get to go to the stage and do these massages for these people because you're helping them feel better, and hopefully prevent injury and perform better. They're happy, and I'm happy for that, so really, I'm blessed to have the opportunity."