"To the Lady on My Right" : Appreciating Understudies & Standbys

"To the Lady on My Right" : Appreciating Understudies & Standbys

For those who don't know, understudies and standbys are the individuals who know the roles of other actors in the event that that actor cannot make the performance. While there are some notable differences between the two titles, their mission is to seamlessly step in to the character’s shoes so that the show may go on at the caliber it would have should the originally cast individual be the one on stage. They must quickly establish chemistry with their scene partners, and this task alone is no easy feat.

These individuals are rock stars and deserve more credit than the disgust they are often met with upon their tiny flyer at the front of the playbill. Whether it's Ohio State University alumnus Sifiso Mazibuko (a standby at Hamilton: An American Musical in London), or a high school understudy for Rizzo in Grease, these people have to know their scripts, learn countless vocal parts, and master quick changes, so it’s a privilege to have their energy on stage for your performance.

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True Open-Mindedness in Art

True Open-Mindedness in Art

Okay, let me start this by saying that you, whoever may be reading this, may very well be offended by the words I'm about to say. I do, however, think it is fair to say that anyone who preaches open-mindedness in art will agree with me. Warnings and cautions aside, let me get right into this. 

True open-mindedness means hearing or seeing something you may completely disagree with but rather than immediately rejecting or objecting the ideas, you are perceptive to them. You may consider them, engage in fair conversation about them, maybe even compare them to your current set of beliefs. It's a great concept when utilized accurately, especially in the setting of a piece of art.

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Should We Be Boycotting Broadway's "Chicago"?

Should We Be Boycotting Broadway's "Chicago"?

Over the past couple of weeks, more and more information has been coming out about the alleged treatment of Chicago cast member Jeffrey Loeffelholz which, according to people close to him, caused him to commit suicide last month. 

As more details are released and other former cast members are coming forward with their own experiences of bullying at the hands of Chicago leadership, the anger towards the producers and creative team is only getting more heated. 

Now, with the addition of a reported legal battle between lawyers, some are saying enough is enough and are encouraging a boycott of the show. 

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A German Theatre Did A Lot More Than Just Whitewash "West Side Story"

A German Theatre Did A Lot More Than Just Whitewash "West Side Story"

Behold. This is West Side Story in Germany last February. I swear. 

The show was produced by the theatre, Staatstheater Kassel. Not only did they cast Caucasian actors in many of the Puerto Rican roles, but according to press materials they also flew in a dialect coach to teach them Puerto Rican accents. 

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How "Bandstand" Comforts Those Who Feel Like They're a Burden

How "Bandstand" Comforts Those Who Feel Like They're a Burden

Last month, I saw the movie release of the musical Bandstand. Thank God for cinema releases (seriously industry people keep them coming!) because this show resonated with me in a way few have and in ways I wasn’t expecting.

At first glance this looks like another post-World War II story; boys returning home from war, picking up where they left off, finding love, etc. That’s not this show at all. It’s a real, gritty, perfectly imperfect look at what happens when men and women have seen and dealt with horrific circumstances, and how each individual deals with those demons. This is the first time I’ve seen a show that so accurately portrays the horrors of war and what it must truly have been like for the majority of soldiers returning. This is the first time a show with such a seemingly unrelated topic resonated so much with my life.

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Dear Central Connecticut State University, It's Time to Shut Your Theatre Program Down

Dear Central Connecticut State University, It's Time to Shut Your Theatre Program Down

Dear President Dr. Zulma Toro of Central Connecticut State University, 

As much as it pains me to say this, it's time to shut your theatre program down. It's incredibly rare for me to make such a declaration, however, given the turmoil surrounding the program and its faculty, it's become clear that student safety apparently is not a primary concern within the department. Therefore, in good conscience, I cannot recommend students to major in theatre at CCSU.

Shut it down. 

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Theatre "MOOCS" That You Can Take Right Now

Theatre "MOOCS" That You Can Take Right Now

No matter where we are in our career or our artistry, there is always something we can learn about theatre.  This article will explore a relatively new concept in the education world, the MOOC.

First, what the actual heck is a MOOC? A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. The title is pretty self-descriptive, but I will attempt to elaborate and make a little more sense of it.  A MOOC is an online course with unlimited participation and open access offered over the internet. 

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Why We Need "Skintight"

Why We Need "Skintight"

This past Sunday I had the amazing pleasure of seeing Skintight. It's the new Off-Broadway play written by Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews, Significant Other). It follows Jodi Issac a middle-aged woman whose marriage falls apart after her now ex-husband leaves her for a younger woman. Left to pick up the pieces she visits her father for a weekend only to find her father is in a relationship with a much younger man who may or may not have secrets of his own. 

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What are We Trying to Censor in Shakespeare?

What are We Trying to Censor in Shakespeare?

Between the Twitter discussion surrounding the Globe’s Shakespeare and Censorship event (which I fully recognize could not have captured the nuance of the speakers’ actual talks) and a conversation that came up during a plenary on teaching Shakespeare at this year’s BritGrad conference, I’ve been grappling with the question of what we’re talking about when we’re arguing for or against “censoring” Shakespeare (and that’s not even getting into the obviously biased moral weight of the use of that word). I’d like to try to define my take on this debate with a series of questions, because I think so many things are getting lumped under one umbrella, it’s almost impossible to actually discuss the problem.

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Issues at Broadway's "Chicago" All Too Familiar When It Comes to Bullying in Theatre

Issues at Broadway's "Chicago" All Too Familiar When It Comes to Bullying in Theatre

After spending 22 years in a cast of a Broadway show, one deserves a curtain call worthy of that achievement. It could be a standing ovation during the final bow. Or a backstage celebration. Or parting gifts from the cast, creative and producers. 

But instead of being recognized for a rare achievement in New York theatre, Jeff Loeffelholz ended his own life with a mixture of painkillers and alcohol. 

What led Jeff to this point is going to be the subject of investigations by multiple organizations and their results could lead to a complete reshaping of working conditions in professional theatre.

While Jeff's alleged treatment behind-the-scenes at Chicago is horrific, for many other performers, it's all too familiar. 

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