The unsung heroes of every show are the understudies! Understudy Rehearsals begin on the Thursday afternoon right after the show’s opening weekend. At Paramount, after weeks of a grueling rehearsal schedule, our understudies do a complete performance of their practice for a small group of staff and cast members. It’s a rare and very special look at their work that no one typically ever gets to see and appreciate. These actors rehearse their understudy duties during the day booking up on where to be and what to say, sing and dance, break for dinner and then return to perform their own track of eight shows a week. It is crucial that their stepping in is a lateral move. Usually the only way the audience would know they are on is by that little piece of a program insert: “At this performance, the role usually played by…” The highest compliment an understudy can get is that no one could tell they were the understudy.
Well, I am here to tell y’all this morning that last Thursday afternoon, the understudy cast of Legally Blonde made it perfectly clear that should any of them have to go on, the show would be in very good hands! (Sorta like Allstate, but for theatre)! There was an incredibly generous atmosphere at this particular understudy run-through as a few fellow principal and ensemble cast mates were there to cheer on support for their counterparts. (After all, they know first hand what it takes to do these roles well. And they do them very well! Have you seen the reviews they are getting?!). There is always the fun anticipation and curiosity of how the understudies hit their marks and at the same time, put their own little twist on things.
Folks, this understudy cast owned this performance, without exception, each one of them precise and personal.
The insurance policy that they are for a successful run simply blew the roof off the place! Such power packed tours de force! No costumes, no lights, no microphones, no orchestra (Music Director par excellence Kory Danielson on piano) just amazing chops of talent all over the place! Myself and all the cast and staff there (including Tim Rater, who btw never misses an understudy run) hooted and hollered all the way through this very special afternoon! What a testament to Trent Stork’s solid and inventive direction and collaboration with co-choreographer Megan Farley, Dance Captain Aaron Umstead, Stage Manager Maggie O’Donnell and Assistant Stage Manager Matt McMullen. And really, I was also so taken by the talent seated in the audience appreciating the talent on the stage!
Having this moment means so much right now. What a remarkable gift these actors are for each other and for all of us. To know they are here in Aurora everyday on Paramount’s stage evokes so much gratitude. We are very lucky to have what we have here. Never forget it. I know I never will.
Love & thanks,