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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Unexpected Understudy February 26, 2014

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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One of the theatres that I frequently work at actually has two theatres in the same building. They are both run by the same company, but one stage has the big musicals and the other small space is used for comedies.

A few years ago, I was performing in the big space as a dance captain in a musical, and the producer came back to the green room to ask which girl wanted to go be in the comedy that night. We all laughed. One of us go over to be in the other show that started in just under an hour? Hahahaha! Then he said, no, he was serious, and one of use was going.

My husband had been in that particular comedy a few years ago, so I knew the big twist at the end. I raised my hand and said I would do it. I really didn’t think he was going to make me, but I wanted to seem like a good sport. But oh no, he led me to the little theatre and gave me to the Stage Manager to be put into the play. The girl who was going to be in that part was a notorious hypochondriac who had decided that she couldn’t possibly do the play that night as she was dying. Please Note: No actors were harmed in the making of this blog. Not even the crazy hypochondriac. She was fine. She didn’t even go to the doctor.

But she refused to come do the show. So the SM highlighted me a script, we went over how I was supposed to fall over someone’s lap, then twenty minutes later, I went to the big theatre to take myself out of the musical. I pulled myself out of the musical with just enough time to run back to the little stage to do the play. I didn’t have time to read through the script. But at least I knew how it ended and that I should have a British accent. Which is really all you need to know when doing farce. Not really, but I managed to convince myself that for a whole two hours until it was done.

The only problem I had was where a cut had been made to the dialogue where no one had marked anything in my script. Everyone was staring at me, so I flipped a few pages forward and found my next line, said that, and then everyone continued with the play.

As soon as the farce was over, I ran over to the big stage and jumped into my costume for the ballet sequence. My husband, who was my partner, was not expecting me to be there, so he got quite a shock when I waved to him from across the stage before running on to dance with him.

I finished the musical and went down in history as the unexpected understudy who still managed to get in for curtain call for her own show on the same night. That’s right. I am that good. J

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