Julie White stars in the New York premiere of Theresa Rebeck's new play.
What Is the Story of The Understudy?
In a darkened Broadway theater, down-on-his luck (and somewhat bitter) actor Harry is getting just the break he needs—the chance to appear as the understudy for a major Hollywood action star in a two-man Kafka play currently performing to packed houses. But before Harry can formally recite his first lines at a midday “put-in” rehearsal, all hell breaks loose. One of the play’s two stars, Jake, doesn’t want Harry as his understudy; the stage manager running rehearsal turns out to be the jilted ex-fiancée Harry left at the altar, and the set technician assisting the day’s run through is so stoned everyone onstage is dodging flying set pieces. Will Jake, Harry and his ex get their act together in time for the curtain to go up?
What Is The Understudy Like?
One part behind-the-scenes comedy, one part valentine to the theater, The Understudy is a ridiculous comic romp through the inner workings of the less-than-glamorous side of Broadway. In a breezy 90 minutes, the performers run the Rialto lovingly through the ringer, throwing playwright Theresa Rebeck’s playfully worded barbs at the audience, each other and the stage community at large. More than just a piece for theater fans, the play also tackles more touching topics with widespread appeal, from broken hearts to bruised egos, and it does so without devolving into sappiness.
Is The Understudy Good for Kids?
There’s nothing in this three-hander more offensive than what you’d find on a primetime sitcom. Rebeck occasionally tosses in a few curse words for emphasis, but nothing any average middle schooler hasn’t already heard. Theater jokes, relationship commentary and pop culture references will be appreciated by those old enough to have a high school musical under their belt. The scenes from the show’s fictional Kafka play may pull laughs from adults, they’re likely to leave younger family members bored.