How To Be a Good Understudy

The show must go on! Save the day and promote your own career with the help of these tips.

Instructions

  • TIP: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Most likely, fellow performers and the backstage crew will be sympathetic and eager to help.
  • Step 1: Maintain a positive attitude. Do not get discouraged when you don’t get to perform. Instead, learn by observing the work of others to make the most of your understudy experience.
  • FACT: Did you know? Shirley MacLaine landed her first film contract when a producer saw her fill in for the lead actress in the Broadway musical The Pajama Game.
  • Step 2: Fill the role seamlessly and graciously if you do get called to step in. Focus on filling the shoes of the person originally cast – now’s not the time to try a new interpretation.
  • Step 3: Stay in tip-top performance shape. You could go on stage at any time, so prepare yourself as if you are performing. Eat well, get rest, and mentally and physically prepare for the role.
  • Step 4: Learn the role well. In addition to the basics, such as the lines or steps, learn the emotional aspects of the role and how the role relates to others in the performance.
  • TIP: Understudies don’t get much dedicated rehearsal time, so it’s often necessary to do extra preparation on your own.
  • Step 5: Know which role or roles you’re supposed to cover. Some understudies are responsible for a single role, while others are expected to learn several different parts.

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