i seemed to have opened a can of worms here, sorry!
i was actually hoping that a friend of mine who is dainty june u/s would be going on, as i saw gypsy last night. i saw the main girl, which is fine, but i was hoping to see my friend, the u/s.
i know i personally have a lot of respect for understudies. SOM is my first experience working with understudies, and i understudy not one but two roles. i've had one and a half rehearsals for louisa (grief's role) and a half rehearsal (maybe it was only for one song, i can't remember now) for liesl- oh, and i know 16 going on 17, though i havent done it in 3 months now. so i'm a little scared at the prospect of having to go on as either role, but it's my job to be able to go on with 3 hrs notice (according to our contract) and to be just as good as them, so i'd make it work if i had to!
the other kid understudies had real rehearsals with the rest of the cast, and they have performed one of their u/s roles twice now, and i'm sure will start on their second role if/when we go back. it's weird, i must admit. but i think we aren't on a regular understudy method here. our understudies haven't had real rehearsals at all, except the two kids. i know that's not normal, but it is what it is.
understudies must be just as good as those they are understudying. producers aren't going to send out someone who sucks, they have to be just as good. why don't they have the role? could be lots of reasons. in major productions, a name will always get the role. when there isn't a name, well, someone has to get the role, and someone has to be the understudy. sometimes it's just luck.
i wonder sometimes, if i hadn't had a CB for a bway show the day of the adult call, and if i wasn't moving the day of the kids call, if i would have been cast in one of the actual roles, but you know what? doesn't matter. i wasn't available, i auditioned very late after it was all cast, so now i'm the understudy. and that's just how it is. and thats fine. but if i wasn't as good as the two girls who'd been cast, i wouldn't have been cast either. someone has to get the role, someone has to get the understudy. that's just how it is. doesn't make the understudy any less of a performer.
understudies have it hard because they have to learn their own track, and then learn another track, even two other tracks, and i think AEA allows up to three u/s tracks. give understudies some credit, people
could be the same with these other productions. understudies should get respect. and i think the theatre-goers who are in the industry who see shows with understudies should make it a point to cheer them on. for sure!
and many understudies do in fact go on to get the role full-time!