Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ellen Tovatt Leary to Release New Novel THE UNDERSTUDY

Article Pixel
Ellen Tovatt Leary to Release New Novel THE UNDERSTUDY

On July 1st, Hansen Publishing Group will release The Understudy by Ellen Tovatt Leary, a charming, evocative, and authentic novel about the life of a Broadway actress in the 1970s, evoking the familiar rooms, smells, situations and romance of the industry in a way that only a true veteran of the Great White Way can do. Leary's truthful, sensual, and insightful novel brilliantly conveys the essence of what it means to be an actress and the high wire act of a woman struggling to balance her career ambition with a life fully lived. The Understudy is a heartfelt love letter to the New York Theater scene of the 1970s that leaves the reader with a deep appreciation of an actor's devotion to craft, and how the life and the stage can be so closely intertwined.

"In writing The Understudy, I looked to capture the life of a New York actress in the excitement and complexity of the '70s, the exuberance of what it is like to be on stage for a Broadway opening night, the euphoria of the party at Sardi's afterward, as well as the pain of the inevitable rejection," explains Leary. "I hope I have conveyed the sense of bonding that occurs when a cast goes though the rehearsal process together and then finally reaches the opening performance. Of course I have also written a love-story, because I love love-stories. Mainly, I hope that people reading it will have as much fun as I did, writing it."

The Understudy is the story of Nina Landau, an actress, living in New York City in the early '70's and trying hard to make it on Broadway. We follow her from her Broadway audition nerves, to her eventual success on stage. Along the way we discover what goes on backstage during a Broadway show, how actors deal with the mistakes that occasionally occur and how exciting it is to be at an opening night party at Sardi's. Nina experiences thrilling triumphs as well as crushing setbacks and has a passionate love affair with her leading man.

"Ellen Leary's The Understudy brilliantly conveys the essence of what it means to be an actress working in the theater," said award-winning actor Stacy Keach. "As a reader, we become totally absorbed with the trials and tribulations of Nina Landau, with her loves, her losses, and her ultimate triumph in coming to terms with who she is!"

"There are so many things to enjoy about this book," added actress Joyce Van Patten. "The story of what really goes on in theater...at auditions, opening night, rehearsals, backstage, wardrobe fittings. It's all just like it really is. Breathtaking! Also, the true fellowship actors have for each other as the play gets closer to opening. And falling in love. It's all there-witty, funny, and deeply touching."

Ellen Tovatt Leary spent twenty years acting on the professional stage. She performed in theaters from the Ahmanson in Los Angeles to the State Theater in Lincoln Center, including four Broadway theaters (the Barrymore, the Lyceum, the Helen Hayes, and the Palace), and many Off-Broadway and regional theaters. She worked with Hal Prince, Maureen Stapleton and James Hammerstein among others. She graduated from Antioch College and was a Fulbright scholar at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Her first book, a memoir, Mother Once Removed, details her childhood growing up on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village in the 1940s with an eccentric, divorced mother. She was a staff writer at Carnegie Hill News in New York for fourteen years and has published short stories as well as poems. A native New Yorker, she currently resides with her husband in LA.


Related Articles
Vote Now for the Best of the Decade Awards

More Hot Stories For You