The Understudy goes on


Monday, August 13, 2007

Okay. This is nutty now. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Jenny Young went on tonight as Penelope. Swear to God.

It went something like this: After a nice recuperative day off, we began preparations for the understudy run. Jenny had an 11am call to run solo work with Rae, and then the company was called for a 2 o’clock warm-up and a 3 o’clock run. We knew there wouldn’t be that many people there, but Sam Jones, the head of casting was coming, along with Deborah Shaw, so it was important to do a good job. And to give Jenny a solid facsimile of what it might be like if she were to go on. All good.

The run went very smoothly. Jenny sailed through at the helm, and the rest of us manned the ship in our different roles, and picked up the slack where pieces were missing, and it ended up being a very pleasurable run of the play. We had tea and cakes in the Ashcroft Roof Room afterwards, and I spoke with Deborah Shaw, and she was very impressed.

We didn’t have much time between shows. It was already 5:15, and warm-up was scheduled to begin at 5:50. But most of us figured since we’d done the understudy warm-up and a run-through, we could forgo this extra call. So we had a quick meal at home: Jenny and Jade and I.

And I praised Jenny for doing such a comprehensive understudy, and how well that reflected on her in the eyes of the powers that be. She lauded Rae for getting an early start to the understudy rehearsals, even though it seemed a burden at the time. And we expressed our relief that all that was behind us now, and we could get back to just running the show.

And the Gods of the Theatre laughed, pointed their wands, and went: brrring-brrring! The old pay-phone in the hall rang.  Jenny got it because she thought it might be her boyfriend, Gord.

“…This is Jenny. … Yes. … Really. … Okay. … I’ll be right there.” I ran out into the hall, “You’re going on!?” Jenny’s inimitable introspective giggle. “Yuh”.  Lots of expletives out of me, and then, “Okay. Let’s go. Here we go!”

So many thoughts. She is so ready. Thank God we did the run this aft. Thank God it’s now and not three weeks from now. The timing couldn’t be more perfect – she already had her hair and make-up done!

Penny had come in to warm-up, but after an in-depth session with Charmion, she simply didn’t have enough voice to do the show. This damned cold! So we gathered to assess the consequences. And of course there is a huge trickle-down effect: Sarah will cover Jenny’s lines in the first chorus, I will cover the second chorus and her Spartan suitor. Lisa will cover Jenny’s maid, Jade will cover Lisa’s maid and so on and so on. The long and the short of it is that when one person is out in this show, the ensemble has to kick into gear. Everyone rallied behind our Queen for a Day, and the show went on. Seamlessly. What a pro. She did us all proud.

Jondon brought some champagne to the dressing room, and we sat around there for a while laughing and re-living in disbelief the events of the day. Telling the tales again and again as a way of pinching ourselves to make sure we were awake. Then the pub, and more regaling.

Bonding. Like an anomalous family celebrating a strange birth. Congratulations to all.

And for our dear Penny, who was sidelined by this dreaded lurgie… our prayers for swift recovery. We await the return of the Queen.


3 Responses to “The Understudy goes on”

  1. Thom Allison Says:

    My God. This whole experience has been an Odyssey to parallel the original. You really should compile these blogs into a book. It’s such good reading. One can hardly wait for the next installment. I hope your cold is getting better, my sweet Katie. My love to Lisa and Koslo and keep buckets for yourself.

  2. Elizabeth Graney Says:

    I came searching the web this morning to find out who had played Penelope at last night’s (Tues 14th) performance. What a joy to find this blog! Thank you so much for your behind-the-scene insights – they add an extra dimension to the whole experience.
    Congratulations and many thanks to everyone for giving us a terrific evening of theatre…and as someone who has just had ‘the dreaded lurgie’ herself and couldn’t imagine doing anything more energetic than mixing myself a(nother) hot toddy for a few days, my admiration is immense.

  3. Kate Says:

    It is indeed a wild ride. One could say we are alive. And as for the book idea, I myself have suggested the possibility of publishing an edited version. But it is great to hear someone from the outside making that suggestion! The germ is a nasty one, and we are all continuing the struggle against it.
    Much love to you my sweet.

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