Searching for Romeo (NYMF). What happens when there is no understudy?
The NYMF had me excited with one of the works they were putting up in this years festival, Searching for Romeo. We got to choose our seats so I decided to sit near the center the second-to-last row up, as I would in a movie theatre. This way I would be able to see everything. As I waited for the show to start I sifted through the program. Out fell a little insert saying the part of Paris would be played by a different man, an understudy I assumed. It began with the director walking on stage with a warm greeting for us all. She announced that the actor originally playing the role of Paris had gotten hurt before opening night, so since the opening of the show, the Assistant Director (AD) had picked up the role. NOTICE: THIS IS NOT AN UNDERSTUDY PEOPLE...HE WAS NOT TRAINING TO PLAY THIS ROLE. This warning was given to us because she wanted us to not be surprised when he had script in hand. After this note, I was preparing myself mentally for what I might have been about to endure. As the lights went down, I kept thinking this guy would constantly be checking his script, messing up lines, and all with good reason. I WAS WRONG PEOPLE, SO WRONG.
This guy was REALLY listening. If he didn't have the script you would've thought he'd been preparing this role all along. You'd have no clue he just jumped into it a few hours before the curtain was supposed to go up. I mean this guy could've been the original. There was almost no inkling that he'd accomplished all of this on such short notice. I was astonished. His comedic timing, his singing, the character - like he just seemed to do it all perfectly.
The show was funny, relevant, and I fell in love with the idea. Before this show, all of Rosaline's and Paris' struggles had never been addressed. I mean, in the original, Romeo did just kind of up and leave Rosaline. And Juliet had no interest in Paris at all. So true. Like what were these people doing during R&J's love affair. I love how they focused on Rosaline's and Paris' perspective. They also did small things that just made me happy. Small things like having a character start singing and another ask why they're singing. Or characters asking each other not to sing. Lines like,
"I guess it is a little early for a reprise."
"Just dying here."
added an extra element to the piece that was just fun. It was really upbeat show. I really want to see it again. And again. AND AGAIN.
P.S. Can all AD's understudy like that? Hmm...