BWW Reviews: THE STANDBYS Is Fascinating
The Standbys is a completely captivating movie by Sunchaser Entertainment. Directed by Stephanie Riggs, the film tells the story of three very different individuals who are passionate Broadway performers; Ben Crawford, Merwin Foard and Alena Watters. All three have the opportunity to work as standby actors that are ready to assume a lead role whenever needed. A standby has a unique position in a cast; they must be always available and ready to go on at a moment's notice. It differs from an understudy who may be already performing a part in a show and is ready to assume another role if needed.
The Standbys is very revealing. It gives an in-depth view the theatrical arts and the level of competition that even the most gifted and talented performers encounter. The film takes you behind the scenes to witness the audition process and show rehearsals.
The Standbys features discussions from multiple perspectives including the actors themselves, members of their families, Bebe Neuwirth, Michael Riedel and David Hyde Pierce. These testimonies are alternatively funny and heartfelt. They not only provide background information, but trace the progress of each performer's career.
The Standbys is also remarkable because the stories of Crawford, Foard and Watters differ substantially. Crawford has the opportunity to take over the lead as Shrek in the Broadway production, Shrek the Musical. Foard assumes Nathan Lane's role as Gomez in The Addams Family for a night when the audience expects to see Lane in the part. And, after a number of disappointments, Watters takes the initiative to do a one-woman show. Yet, it is clear that these three have real common ground when they engage in group chat about their experiences.
Anyone who has been to the theater and admired the talent of an actor should see this movie. It is wonderfully filmed; a thoughtfully conceived piece that explores an aspect of stage performance that is not always recognized. The Standbys is a film you will want to watch again and again.
Photo Credit: Movie Still from "The Standbys"