Thursday, June 18, 2009


It's been quite busy these past couple of weeks, our new designer came in for fittings and we are still trying to get our understudy costumes fit and finished for the other shows that have already opened. You may wonder, "understudy costumes"? Yes, understudies. For every major role and many of the minor ones, understudy roles are assigned and costumes are needed. The first choice is obviously for the understudy to fit into and wear the original costume. When that doesn't work, we try to pull similar costumes from stock and fit and alter those. Sometimes though, the understudy and the original actor are too different in size or the costume is too specific to work, so we occasionally build understudy costumes.
In some cases, these costumes never get worn because the actor never misses a show between April and November. In other cases, especially musicals, injuries are common and the understudy must go on. Injuries are so common for musicals that in addition to understudies of major roles, there is often a "swing" hired. The "swing" is an actor/dancer who understudies many "tracks". For instance, a male swing may cover the entire chorus group of male dancers and they learn all those singing and dancing parts in order to go on whenever someone in the chorus cannot. They usually have a costume made for all the major looks so they are made and ready to go at the tech dress.
This year one of our lead dancers hurt himself so badly that he cannot continue in the season. This means that his understudy has assumed his role and someone else is moving into his role and so on down the line. In fact between injuries and colds and replacements, there were seven people doing other parts today. The pre-show announcements seemed endless! Luckily everyone involved is so talented that this happens seamlessly from the audience's point of view.

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