theatre 101

we're opening SWEET CHARITY this friday at pioneer theatre company.  
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."

it's easier. 

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. 


Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

Sorry that was me above, my comment wasn't perfect. :)

Just because you ARE right, and words are important, it isn't "a point of syntax." Syntax is sentence structure and the arrangement of words to form phrases.

One word differences, like "Broadway actress" versus "actress" are issues of semantics, or the way words are interpreted. So if you are saying an actress on a National Tour is not the same as a Broadway actress, you are noticing the difference between a actress in a show that has been on Broadway, versus an actress actually performing in NYC on Broadway. One word with a lot of different meanings, so you are noticing the semantics of the single word "Broadway" not analyzing the way multiple words are used to form a phrase using punctuation or multiple clauses. (That's syntax.)

This is just a friendly jab to someone who loves to correct and poke fun at grammar (I follow you on twitter and laugh at your jabs,)from another word snob. Hope you take it in good fun!Good luck with Sweet Charity!

Maggie said...

Love this! I'm going to end up directing friends and family here when they ask exactly what it is I want to do with my theatre degree.

Also- THANK YOU for the comment about comp-tickets. There really is no money in the theatre, and sometimes it boggles my mind that people don't feel the cost of a ticket is worth the time and skills the actors/directors/crew have put to use.

Coming to see the show Monday night! While I don't know you, I have several friends in your cast. Can't wait to see you all. :)

Eastbench NBAWifey said...

I am not an expert in this area at all, but couldn't one argue that only actresses who are currently working in a Broadway show (on Broadway) are Broadway actresses and those that once worked there but are now working in some show in Utah are only former Broadway actresses? If you once played for Manchester United but now play for La Galaxy you are a former Manchester united player and a former Premier League player, not a Premier League player.

Lily Cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Hill said...

@stephanie. yes, you're totally right. i wrote that on a 5 min break and i am FRIED! thank you!

Natalie Hill said...

@stephanie. yes, you're totally right. i wrote that on a 5 min break and i am FRIED! thank you!

@eastbenchnbawifey, doesn't work that way in entertainment... if you're once a film star, you're always a film star. it's a matter of billing.

alaa sami said...

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دكتور تحويل مسار المعدة
شركة مكافحة ورش مبيدات بالرياض
شركة عزل مائي بالرياض
شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
شركة تنظيف بيوت في جدة
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موقع اثاث مستعمل
اثاث مستعمل بالرياض

Melissa said...

And what is that GORGEOUS ring on your finger in your "What is MIM doing now?" section?! Congrats!

jamesgrady8 said...

I have a couple questions:

1. You claim to be a practicing Mormon, but why doesn't the dresses of this play match gospel standards of modesty and dress?

2. I read in the Cultural Hall podcast that you would "hobnob" with Gina Gershon. Why do you associate with softcore porn actresses if you are Mormon?

Brooke said...

I have never commented before on your blog but have read for a long time. You're friends with my cousin's wife (Mary Martha) and I realized I hadn't checked on you for a while when I saw you comment on her IG feed. So I clicked on your IG feed and saw that you are now married! To Alex Jensen no less! I went to high school with Alex Jensen and I am SO excited for you both. He is so wonderful and I am so happy for you! Congratulations!!!

Brooke said...

Okay, sorry- more comments after looking at your IG feed (and I'd leave then there but I can't type on my phone to save my life).

You're moving to Bountiful! That's where I live. I can give you the best B-town food recommendations (there's not THAT many) but I'm sure Alex has already filled you in on those.

Wedding was GORGEOUS! Amazing. But I'd expect nothing less from you and your family. Such style.

Also- tell your cute new husband congrats and hi from me! Brooke Davies was my name when we attended VHS.

Just SO happy for you. I know that probably sounds so strange coming from someone you've never met but ever since I found your blog years ago I have had a little spot in my heart for you. Congrats!

fragrant breeze said...

for you


Jacquelyn McCants said...

Nice blog!