The show must go on

I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this, but several of my castmates have already taken to Facebook, so I guess it’s public knowledge now. Besides, I know how many people read this blog, and it’s probably not enough to matter.
One of our cast members has had some last-minute health problems. At our “pick-up” rehearsal last night, in between our two performance weekends, we learned that (barring an unforseen miracle) the woman who plays my wife in the show won’t be there this weekend. So we have bumped one of our existing cast members up into that slot, and have recruited the college-age daughter of another cast member to replace her. Both ladies are working feverishly on their lines, and anyone who can is going to try to get to the theatre early to run some scenes.
When I mentioned this type of situation to a friend several weeks ago, the friend responded, “what — you don’t have understudies?” Understudies are nice, but that’s more of a professional theatre thing. In small-town, volunteer community theater you don’t often have that luxury. After all, we’re volunteers. Who would want to sit through weeks of practice on the off chance they might be needed? You’d really have to double-cast — have one set of actors perform the first weekend, a different set the second weekend — in order to justify someone committing to that level of participation. And often in community theatre, you’re doing well just to cast one set of actors, much less two. Plus, with two sets of actors, everyone would get half as much chance to rehearse.
So when the unexpected happens, and it sometimes does, you do the best you can with what you’ve got. You may even have to help an actor “cheat” — say, by hiding lines on some sort of prop that the actor carries. It’s not the ideal situation, but it can be dealt with in a way that still gives the audience their money’s worth.
In my last play at the Fly, “Come Blow Your Horn,” we had a similar situation, and one actress ended up having to play two roles. She did a spectacular job on short notice, and some people didn’t realize until the end of the play that the two parts were played by the same woman!
Meanwhile, the weather forecast is bad. Some Nashville mission trip friends who were going to come and see the show tonight have decided not to do so.
Please don’t let any of this scare you away. This is a funny show, with a great cast. Our replacement actresses are working very hard and will do a great job.

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