Alumna Profile: Lucie McGrane, DPT '17
You can hear Lucie McGrane’s hustle in her voice—sharp, direct, and full of charisma. It’s easy to recognize why she works on Broadway, though not in the way you might expect. McGrane is fresh off a weekend of preparing clients for the Tony Awards and in the final stages of opening her own private practice in Brooklyn. In the year since she graduated from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, McGrane has built an impressive career as a physical therapist for Broadway performers.
As a PT for both performers and stage crews, she sees an array of injuries. Her performers most commonly suffer from ankle sprains while stage crews suffer from more chronic pain, after lifetimes of lifting heavy equipment. Needless to say, many of her performers have enduring injuries as well and see her prior to every performance. McGrane provides a mini-treatment, tapes them to blend in with their costumes, and then sends them into the spotlight.
As part of her contract, Lucie is barred from telling a performer that they cannot perform, so her job consists of helping injured—chronically or incidentally—performers make informed decisions. “The goal is always to get them back to performing,” she says, noting that at times this can feel limiting, but because of the professional level of her clients, they usually recognize when not returning to the stage is the healthy choice: “People that work on Broadway understand that longevity is more important than one performance.”
A life-long performer herself, McGrane notes that not just any physical therapist can make these recommendations. “Performers don’t trust non-performers,” she says, “If you’ve never had any performance experience, you’re very unlikely to get these jobs.”
A native of Los Angeles, McGrane received her undergraduate degree in acting from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Despite getting regular work as a dancer and actor, McGrane had doubts about performing long term, but luckily, she had built the foundation for an entirely different career along the way.
In 2005, McGrane got a part-time job at the Marina Physical Therapy Center in Marina del Rey. Energized by her work there, she completed a Physical Therapy mentorship program, massage therapist courses, and received yoga and spin certifications. While continuing to perform professionally, she obtained a BA in Human Performance from the University of Southern California. In 2014, after her final performance at Coachella, McGrane opted to pursue physical therapy full time.
“I had no doubt in my mind that I was a good physical therapist. I had so many doubts in my mind about whether I was a good dancer or not. It feels really good to be confident in what you do,” she says.
After flying all over the country for PT school admissions interviews, McGrane was feeling burnt out. She drove to Pittsburgh in tears from a previous interview, got lost, and ended up arriving an hour late. There she met School of Health Sciences Program Assistant Katie Noel. “She made me feel like [Chatham] appreciated people that had a lot of life experience…that they were looking for real humans,” says McGrane.
At Chatham, McGrane spent her final clinical (and built her network) at Westside Dance Physical Therapy, the exclusive PT company for the New York City Ballet. When the time came to choose her post-graduate path, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work as her own boss in the field she loves.
Presently, McGrane is a main therapist on two major Broadway shows: Summer: the Donna Summer Musical and Dear Evan Hansen, having previously worked on Kinky Boots, Waitress, Escape to Margaritaville, and more. Maintaining contracts with four different production companies, she also fills in for shows as needed.
The best part? “Working with performers and then seeing them onstage directly afterwards, either using the tools that you gave them to do their job or making the modifications that you assisted with, I think that is the highlight. Every time I leave right before a show, I’m always the happiest,” says Lucie.