i'm getting loads of great questions so i figure i should address them on the blog....
1. will you perform in every show?
yes. i play "Helene." unless i am on my death bed, injured, or something major happens, you will see me play this role.......
let me define things a bit:
when you are in a principal role (usually a lead or a secondary lead in a show), you are to perform every night in that role. for instance, in SWEET CHARITY, Helene is a principal role (meaning, i never appear as anything or anyone other than this character).
a standby does not perform in the show nightly. they hang backstage and are only reserved to go on when their principal character cannot perform. ie. "Elphaba" in WICKED has a standby appointed to cover the role if she is unable to perform. often, big stars in big roles will have a standby. not every show requires a standby.
an alternate usually does not perform in the show nightly, but is assigned anywhere from one to four performances/ week. ie. "Eva" in EVITA and "Frankie" in JERSEY BOYS usually have an alternate who does 2 perfs/wk. they are often given the option to do more performances if the principal is unable to perform... if they choose not to perform, the understudy will be asked.
an understudy generally performs in the ensemble of the show and may be featured quite heavily while also knowing the principal roles they understudy. ie. "Elphaba" has, not only, a standby, but one or two ensemble understudies (or "covers" as they're often called). in CHARITY, i have an understudy. she is in the ensemble and learns my part from watching and rehearsal with the stage manager. i have understudied shows where i only cover one role and another show where i covered 3. understudies are amazing.. but the HARDEST job on broadway is a ......
a swing is not contracted to perform nightly. they generally understudy the ENSEMBLE roles. when an understudy is sick or on for a principal character, the swing fills in and takes their place. often, a swing can cover 5-9 ensemble tracks. i have no idea how they keep it straight. i'm just not smart enough make my brain work like that, but a good swing is the most valuable person in the company. most broadway shows have at least 2 swings if not more.
often called the "chorus." these roles generally appear as multiple people or characters during the show. often, but not always, the ensemble will understudy principal roles.
2. what do you call the thing you're doing?
a "play" is a piece of theatre -generally without musical numbers.
a "musical" is a play with music.
i call it a "show."
i've often been asked, "how many broadways have you done?"
i'm pretty sure that means, "how many broadway shows have you performed in?"
which leads me to my next point of clarification.........
who can to claim they've been on broadway?
lately, especially in utah, i've heard a lot of people billed as "broadway stars."
most of those people have never, ever, been in a broadway show.
a national tour (even if that show was or is currently on broadway) is not a broadway show.
you have to be in a BROADWAY show IN new york city to claim that title. so if you know someone who toured in the national tour of LES MISERABLES, that's a wonderful credit... but it isn't a broadway credit. it's a touring credit. doesn't mean those people aren't wildly talented. they are. they're just not on broadway.
same goes for OFF broadway. it's cool and great but it does not give you the credit to claim it as a BROADWAY show.
before i made my broadway debut, i was very quick to correct people who called me a "broadway actress." it was something i hoped for and dreamed about but it hadn't happened yet so i would just say that i was hoping for that someday but for now... i was an "actress."
may be a point of symantics to you, but making it on broadway means something and its just straight up weird when people claim they've achieved that. it's special.
3. what is the difference between equity and non-equity?
actors equity is the professional actors union. you have to either be cast in a broadway, national touring show or a theatre that requires an equity actor in order to join the union. these days, there are MANY national tours that play big theatres that do not bill non- equity tours the same way equity tours are billed. i think it's a little dishonest to charge the exact same ticket price for an non-equity tour that you would for an equity tour. the talent in non- equity tours is often comparable, but the show quality and caliber is not as regulated. when you buy tickets in touring venues, ask the box office if the show you interested in is an equity show.
4. can i meet you after the show?
yes, of course! it would be my privilege and my pleasure to meet you! just ask the usher where the "stage door" is located and hang out there. i'll come out and say hello.
5. can i get free tickets?
no. no you can't. please don't ask.if my parents and my boyfriend pay for tickets, you do too. i wish we had comps but, kids, there's no money in theatre.
so now you know!
come see us! this show will be really fun.