Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Understudy Talkback at Godspell

Last Tuesday, I attended the final Godspell Tuesday Night Talkback. Julie James of Sirius XM Radio hosted the talks, focusing on a different cast member each week. This talkback featured understudies (in photo from left to right) Corey Mach, Julia Mattison, Hannah Elless, Eric Michael Krop, and Amina Robinson, who just joined the company as a temporary swing. During that evening's performance, Mattison went on in the track usually played by Celisse Henderson.

Godspell is a pretty different animal than most Broadway shows in terms of understudies. Usually, in a big Broadway company, you'll have swings, who can go on for multiple roles, and understudies, who are usually part of the ensemble. A standby usually covers one principal. Godspell is a cast of 10 principals since all the roles are leads, so the understudies are all under principal contract as well. Also of note:

-All the understudies (except for Robinson, who hasn't gone on yet and has already been on Broadway) made their Broadway debuts in Godspell. "You never think you're going to make your Broadway debut as a principal," Krop said. The cast is very supportive of each other and they all got emotional for each other each time one of them went on for the first time.

-Anna Maria Perez De Tagle is the only person in the cast who has never called out.

-Everything in the show was made up in the rehearsal room and all the actors (including the understudies) were involved in the creative process. The hardest part for the understudies was not being able to write anything down because the show was constantly evolving.

-Instead of learning all 5 male tracks at once, which would probably be impossible, when they were first learning the show, Mach learned the Jesus and Judas tracks and Krop learned Telly Leung's and George Salazar's track and they both learned Nick Blaemire's track.

-If you're at Godspell and the person next you is dancing in their seat and singing along, it may be an understudy. Usually understudies don't get to rehearse with the rest of the cast. "You know what loneliness is when you're by yourself onstage singing your part of the 'Tower of Babble.'," Elless said.

-Three is the most understudies who have gone on for one show.

-Because Circle in the Square is in a round, the understudies think of the stage like a clock to remember where they are supposed to be when.

-Mattison was actually in Godspell on opening night. Morgan James was injured during tech right before previews started. Mattison was going to take her to the hospital, but then she learned she would have to go one for her. Since she had barely had rehearsal time at that point, the first time she went on, Mach fed her lines from the book.

1 comment:

Sacramento Theatre said...

'Godspell' is definitely a unique show. But a great in that it allows such a wide range of creativity for all involved.