First, Jeff Withers is O.K. He didn’t seriously re-injure his back — just a severe spasm, which while painful, will ease up. He got muscle relaxants from the hospital, and an acupuncture treatment, and is well on his way to recovery.

Second, we had a student matinee* scheduled for today, so Jeff’s understudy, Matt Pierce, went on for him. Matt got notified on Sunday that he’d be doing this today, and his only rehearsal was a few hours yesterday. And he did a lovely job. I was called to rehearse with him for a little bit on Monday for the section of the battle in which we meet. Our fight captain, Todd Denning, took us through our sequence step by step until Matt was confident enough. He had also been rehearsing all day with stage management to get all of his entrances and exits, etc. Marcy Kearns, our Education Director (Matt is also the Education Associate) was on book for him in the front row, and while Hal is among the largest roles in the play, to my knowledge, Matt only had to call for line once.

About mid-way through the first act, during a scene when we were both offstage, I knocked on the bathroom door. Matt came out and said, “I was just puking my guts out,” smiled, and walked by.** A minute or two later, he grabbed me and said, “I’m letting people know which sections I’m weakest with the lines on, and my section with you (Hal’s confrontation with the Sheriff) is a weak one.” I told which lines were absolutely essential, and he said that those were the ones he knew best, so I figured great! We’ll get through it, and all will be well. When it came time a few minutes later to play the scene, he had all the lines at his disposal. No nerves on display, not a hitch.  The whole day, he did a great job.

We cancelled tomorrow’s show, and will instead re-configure the fights to make sure Jeff can do them, as he goes back in on Thursday night. Thursday morning’s student matinee will again star Mr. Pierce, who having done it once, can let his nerves go and just have fun with it.

Tune in tomorrow for an understudy story of my very own.



*Student crowds are always interesting. They are totally honest — shuffling and restless when they’re bored, very vocal when engaged. We had a bit of both today, which is to be expected. After all, it’s three hours of Shakespeare at 10 A.M. But by the end, with the climactic battle and all, we had them in the palm of our collective hand. There’s always a talkback after student matinees, but my makeup at the end of the show dictates a shower, so I’m unable to attend, which makes me a little sad. I do enjoy a good talkback. I hope to get some input from my fellow actors about how the talkbacks progress for future posts.

**I’m actually unsure as to the truth behind this statement. Certainly, nerves are more than warranted in a situation like this.


2 Responses to “Understudy”

  1. 1 tiersa
    April 25, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Just a note about Matt. He was so great in the 1/2 hour East Cheap scene. Didn’t miss a beat. It was fascinating for me, and I think for many of us, to watch him jump in like that and do so well. Congrats Matt! Personally, I have never seen anything like it! Tiersa

  2. April 25, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    a friend of mine saw the matinee yesterday and said it was just riveting. her oldest son raved as well. i still have to wait 3 weeks! 😦

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: