This time last year, Isaac Ryckeghem's life was busy. He was living in New York, working part-time, finishing his undergraduate degree online, taking musical theater classes and going on auditions.
"I had never worked harder in my life, honestly," he said. "I was just waiting for something to give."
Then, over a long weekend, things changed.
In the summer of 2017, Ryckeghem traveled back to University of Idaho for his graduation ceremony. Just two days before graduation day, he got a phone call that he had been booked for the national tour of "The Sound of Music," which meant, for the next year or so at least, he no longer had to take acting classes, work part-time or go on auditions.
"Everything just happened so fast," he said. "My life turned around."
In getting cast as Franz in "The Sound of Music," Ryckeghem said he "absolutely skipped a thousand steps that I thought I'd have to take in this industry."
Ryckeghem wasn't sure he'd make it in the biz. He studied classical musical theater and acting in college, but ultimately got a degree in psychology as "a back-up plan."
"You see all of these super talented actors work and work for years just to get seen, just to get in the room," he said. "You expect it to be this long process."
His fears were quickly quelled.
Ryckeghem and the crew kicked off the tour in September and have since performed eight or nine shows per week. By the tour's end in June, they will have performed "The Sound of Music" nearly 300 times.
So, yes, he's still busy.
"It's a lot," Ryckeghem said in a phone interview earlier this week, hours before performing in Peoria, Illinois. "After doing the show 150 times, it can be a challenge to jolt yourself and keep your energy up."
Before this tour, Ryckeghem said he had only performed the same show 16 times.
That's where the rookie has found himself asking more experienced performers for advice.
"That's the good part of being surrounded by all of these talented people, even though I have at times felt a little out of place," he said. "This is a learning curve for me, but I'm part of a community of artists who have been here before."
Lately, Ryckeghem has found an energy source on his own. It comes from being close to home. Ryckeghem was born in Rock Island and moved to the Chicago area when he was 8.
"This is the exciting part for me, because we're in the Midwest," he said. "This is the part of the country I know really well and am used to."
When "The Sound of Music" takes stage at the Adler Theatre in downtown Davenport on Thursday, Ryckeghem said he will have 30-40 family members in the audience.
And because he didn't get into musical theater until high school, many of his family members have never seen him perform.
"I've done nothing like this before, so I'm nervous and excited," he said. "All of these people who love me will be watching me do what I love. I don't know what that will be like."
Ryckeghem said the stop in Davenport will surely give him a boost for the rest of the tour, which also stops in Cedar Rapids on February 21.
"The thing that keeps us going is that we love to do this and we love to do this show," he said. "It is so classic."