Author Topic: UNDERSTUDIES: what should i do?  (Read 4744 times)

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UNDERSTUDIES: what should i do?
« on: Feb 19, 2006, 12:18 pm »
I need to schedule and conduct understudy rehearsals and I’ve never done before. What is normal procedure? Do I call leads with understudies? Vocal rehearsals vs. blocking. Do I run the show using all understudies or just a few at a time. I’m really at a loss here.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 11:06 pm by PSMKay »


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What I do
« Reply #1 on: Feb 19, 2006, 02:31 pm »
What I do at my theatre . . . which specializes in classical theatre.

We do four days of rehearsals, with the understudies in the roles they are understudying.  (If an understudy understudies two roles in one scene, they we work the scene twice.)  I DO NOT call the regular EQUITY cast members to stand in, but I usually call the NON-EQUITY normal cast to help fill in the gaps as needed.

During these four days, we also do the understudy costume fittings, understudy vocal work, understudy fight and dance work.  I work very closely with the AD, who actually is directing the understudies.  

On the fifth day, we finish all the fight and dance work, and then do a little bit of tech.  (Like speciality items).  The last thing we do is a understudy run thru, with the understudies playing the role, we add in lights and sound (no costumess), and the rest of tech.
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what should i do?
« Reply #2 on: Feb 19, 2006, 03:23 pm »
a lot also depends on how long the understudies have been hired and how much rehearsal they have seen.

If they have been around the show for a while you might be able to see what they know.  I have had shows, musicals even, where the US were able to run the show at the first US rehearsal.  I have also had US who had to be spoon fed all of the blocking.

If its a musical you have to take into consideration the choreography, music work and any fight choreography.
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what should i do?
« Reply #3 on: Feb 19, 2006, 10:43 pm »
what level is this show? Pro or Amateur?

Overview for a professional show: part of your job is to get the u/s up to speed - they shd have their blocking (as noted, depending on how long they've been w the show etc) but generally we rehearse for several hours prior to my call on a show nite - each contract has a specified # of hours you are allowed to call them in - and you are all the other parts, and director etc (that's one reason to be at all rehearsals and listen to the director and how he/she envisions a character or scene). For musicals I schedule time w the dance captain who teaches them the choreo, one or two sessions w the musical director if possible or accompaniment tapes when necessary, costumes are fit into the time sched as well, and ONLY if they are a lead and they have to go on do we deal w other cast members and tech. When our u/s came out of the ensemble, we had rehearsals on the midweek afternoons without matinees, took our dinner break and then ran the show.

In an amateur situation, well, do the best you can. It's your challenge to find a way to make sure they know what they need to know, and theirs to know it, do their acting homework to fit in seamlessly

I love the directing aspect of it, since I have to find a way to relay the director's vision and any other specifics in language my u/s can assimilate.


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