I woke up to the most wonderful Christmas surprise this morning, as I checked Face Book for items that might be interesting to actors & artists, to share on our Penny Templeton Studio Face Book Page. One of the subjects we have been following, is the vigorous response to the disparaging remarks posted by Charlotte St. Martin at The Broadway League, on the value of actors who are working as understudies.
Adding the cherry on top was Hugh Jackman’s wonderful on-stage tribute to understudies & swings at the curtain call of Thursday night’s performance. This was brought on by the amazing performance of Acting Lion, Kathy Voytko as Marion. Kathy had ONE 5-hour rehearsal, Thursday afternoon to prepare to perform opposite Mr. Jackman, as Marion in the evening performance.
These unsung heroes must have impeccable technique and creativity. They are often called on to cover several roles. In understudy rehearsals they are often playing many roles; meaning they are never able to concentrate on one character.
This post brings me particular joy, because several of our very own Acting Lions have fulfilled this job in many Broadway shows. Three that come to mind are Kathy Voytko, Carla Renata, and Beth Beyer. On a personal note, I can also appreciate the stress of being under-rehearsed. My first big Equity show was a 9-month Bus & Truck National tour. I covered the 2 leads and 4 supporting roles. On the road, playing 187 cities in 9 months, meant there was no time for understudy rehearsals. The understudy’s mantra is, “Just Do It! – Stay In The Moment!”
So once again kudos to Kathy Voytko for exhibiting the craft & professionalism that give her the ability to fulfill the most demanding job in theatre, and to Hugh Jackman, a true gentleman and actor’s actor, for stepping up and letting the world know how important everyone is to the success of a show.