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Equity Rules: RE Understudies

theCucumberSandwich
Swing
joined:7/20/13
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 02:55pm
Hi there,
I vaguely recall there being a rule that Equity enforce re: announcement of understudies. I was wondering if anyone can tell me exactly what this is? I seem to remember that it's something to do with 2/3 methods of letting the audience know?
I ask as an Australian Equity member that is seeking to establish a similar rule here.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated,
Cheers,
X.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 02:59pm
That is exactly it. The audience must be i formed of the understudy in 2 of 3 ways of their choosing.
1. Sign in the lobby.
2. Insert in the Playbill.
3. Announcement before the curtain goes up.
The first two are most common, with the third often as a last resort in case of emergency, shortage of inserts or if they do not wish to pay for inserts. How each of those three things happen vary greatly between producers / shows. / theatres.
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Yero my Hero
Broadway Legend
joined:3/27/05
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 03:03pm
Interestingly, according to David Merrick's biography, this rule happened because of what he pulled during HELLO, DOLLY. Whenever Carol Channing was out, he would wait until just before curtain and have the stage manager announce, "Mrs. Levi will be performed by [understudy]." He was banking on the fact that people wouldn't realize that Mrs. Levi was the starring role until too late, and he was right. After that, Equity required 2 of the 3 methods.
Nothing matters but knowing nothing matters. ~ Wicked
Everything in life is only for now. ~ Avenue Q
There is no future, there is no past. I live this moment as my last. ~ Rent

"He's a tramp, but I love him."
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jonartdesigns
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/04
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 04:03pm
Does Cabaret do the announcement? Whereas you do not receive a playbill until after the performance I'd imagine they have to.
My Icon "Swiney" the Swine Flu Mascot- art by me. "Grease," the fourth revival of the season, is the worst show in the history of theater and represents an unparalleled assault on Western civilization and its values. - Michael Reidel
neonlightsxo
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/08
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 04:11pm
^ Great question. I saw the show with Andrea Goss as Sally and honestly don't remember if there was a preshow announcement. But the cast board with her name was in full view in the lobby.
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perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 04:48pm
I saw Andrea in Cabaret on Sunday and there was someone standing outside informing people as they walked in that Michelle Williams was out. There was a board in the lobby and there were also understudy slips on the tables.
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emo_geek
Broadway Legend
joined:1/19/05
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/18/14 at 04:54pm
How awkward for that person to have to stand outside and tell people the big star is out- they must have to take so much heat.
"I never had theatre producers run after me. Some people want to make more Broadway shows out of movies. But Elliot and I aren't going to do Batman: The Musical." - Julie Taymor 1999
AngInFL79
Chorus Member
joined:1/16/08
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/25/14 at 10:23pm
Isn't it another rule-of-thumb that if a featured actor in the show, whose name is on the marquee, is absent on the night you have tickets you can request a refund?

I am seeing Cabaret next month and becoming a little nervous with the recent talk of Michelle calling out a lot. She is one of the reasons I am seeing the show. Her attendance overall for the show has been good though I think.
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 12:57am
If they are billd above the title on the title page of the playbill, you can technically requst a refund. For actors billed below the title, you may not.
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 02:37am
Although if you make a big stink they will probably give you tickets to another day. I remember a guy in front of me at Bullets Over Broadway made a big stink about Marin Mazzie being out and they refunded his ticket. And it was a rush ticket no less.
neonlightsxo
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/08
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 10:00am
AngInFL79- No. That "rule" only applies to above the title performers. However, Michelle Williams IS above the title, so if she happens to be out, you're OK.
AngInFL79
Chorus Member
joined:1/16/08
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 12:11pm
neonlightsxo, that is what I meant. :) I don't plan on requesting a refund if Michelle happens to be out the night I am seeing the show because I truly want to see it. I will just be extremely dissapointed to have missed her because she was a huge draw for me to go. I was curious on the protocal.

I am really excited to be seeing the show. It'll be my first time.
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Replacement Cast
Chorus Member
joined:6/13/13
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 03:29pm
Last year when I went to see "Evita" I purposely went on Monday night because Max von Essen played Che because Ricky Martin didn't perform on Mondays. When I went to the box office to buy the ticket the guy said, "Ricky Martin doesn't perform on Monday." I said, "I know. That's why I'm here on Monday." Max was phenomenal.
Nice is different than good.
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Broadway Bob*
Broadway Star
joined:9/21/05
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 03:47pm
"Interestingly, according to David Merrick's biography, this rule happened because of what he pulled during HELLO, DOLLY. Whenever Carol Channing was out, he would wait until just before curtain and have the stage manager announce, "Mrs. Levi will be performed by [understudy]." He was banking on the fact that people wouldn't realize that Mrs. Levi was the starring role until too late, and he was right. After that, Equity required 2 of the 3 methods."

How can this be since it is on record that Channing NEVER missed a single performance of Dolly in its original run or its first revival. It wasn't until the 90's version she missed and even then it was only one or maybe a couple performances she missed due to a REALLY bad flu (I think). Maybe this was either his plan IF Channing missed, or this is what he did when the ladies who replaced Channing missed performances? But this definitely does sound like Merrick! LOL!
2014 Show Schedule: 3/08 @ 8:00 pm ~ THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Columbus, OH); 4/11 @ 8:00 pm ~ BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (Broadway), 4/12 @ 2:00 pm ~ ROCKY (Broadway), 4/12 @ 8:00 pm ~ THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (Broadway), 4/13 @ 2:00 pm ~ CASA VALENTINA (Broadway), 4/13 @ 7:00 pm ~ SEX TIPS FOR STRAIGHT WOMEN FROM A GAY MAN (Off-Broadway); 4/14 @ 8:00 pm ~ HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (Broadway); 6/06 @ 8:00 pm ~ PIPPIN (Broadway); 6/07 @ 2:00 pm ~ A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER (Broadway); 6/07 @ 8:00 pm ~ IF/THEN (Broadway); 6/08 @ 3:00 pm ~ HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH; 6/08 @ 7:30 pm ~ HEATHERS THE MUSICAL (Off-Broadway)...(MORE to come, I hope)
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jonartdesigns
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/04
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 05:02pm
When I saw Drood, I happened to be at one of the very few performances Chita missed, Will Chase was also out. Whereas their understudies were in the ensemble the board listed four understudies on. A grown man had to be physically restrained at the box office because he "booked group tickets three months back and nobody said anything about four understudies!". I felt genuinely bad for the house manager that day.
My Icon "Swiney" the Swine Flu Mascot- art by me. "Grease," the fourth revival of the season, is the worst show in the history of theater and represents an unparalleled assault on Western civilization and its values. - Michael Reidel
broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/26/14 at 05:22pm
Some people are "not that smart"
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Yero my Hero
Broadway Legend
joined:3/27/05
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/27/14 at 10:40am
How can this be since it is on record that Channing NEVER missed a single performance of Dolly in its original run or its first revival.

You are right, I misremembered the details. It was right after Channing left the show, when Ginger Rogers was the star. Here is the story, from the Jerry Herman biography: http://books.google.com/books?id=fFz5QgJsjL4C&pg=PA111&lpg=PA111&dq=merrick+hello+dolly+understudy+announcement&source=bl&ots=6B1ckL-RDq&sig=qBswLQQLjz5TrD289ompzR3tL90&hl=en&sa=X&ei=b4GtU-uXHIXN8wGd9YHYDw&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=merrick%20hello%20dolly%20understudy%20announcement&f=false
Nothing matters but knowing nothing matters. ~ Wicked
Everything in life is only for now. ~ Avenue Q
There is no future, there is no past. I live this moment as my last. ~ Rent

"He's a tramp, but I love him."
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Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Equity Rules: RE Understudies
Posted: 6/27/14 at 10:57am
To complicate matters, when Ginger Rogers initially played Dolly, she wore a red (actually auburn) wig. The audiences had no idea that this red-haired woman was Ginger Rogers--or Bibi Osterwald (the understudy). After all the problems with announcing understudies at the time of performance, Rogers abandoned the wig and played Dolly with her famous blonde hair. Oddly enough, the lines about the character having red hair were never adjusted.

"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
Updated On: 6/27/14 at 10:57 AM