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Interview: Understudy Nate Richardson Basking in His AFTERGLOW After Triumphant First Time Onstage

One week after the west coast premiere of S. Asher Gelman’s Afterglow, understudy Nate Richardson was ready to tackle the integral role of Alex

Interview: Understudy Nate Richardson Basking in His AFTERGLOW After Triumphant First Time Onstage

One week after the west coast premiere of S. Asher Gelman's Afterglow opened at the Hudson Theatre, one of the three leads couldn't go on. Fortunately, understudy Nate Richardson was in the wings ready to tackle the integral role of Alex.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Nate!

I caught the Thursday performance where you went on as Alex. Great job! If I didn't know you were the understudy beforehand, I wouldn't have noticed any difference.

First of all, I'm so pleased to hear that! It was a very stressful evening for me, but I'm proud of that performance considering how little notice I had.

How many hours in advance were you notified you'd be going on that night?

A little over 24 hours. I found out on Wednesday afternoon, when I was in the middle of reviewing my lines for a scheduled rehearsal to learn Josh's track. At 1:30 PM that day, I was told to start looking at Alex's lines because James (Hayden Rodriguez) would likely be out of the show for the week. I spent the rest of Wednesday getting off book with the help of my sister and two friends who each worked with me for hours.

How long have you had the role of Alex comfortably under your belt?

To be perfectly honest, I am only just now feeling like I have the role under my belt! Josh was supposed to be the first character that I rehearsed, so that's what I had geared my preparation toward. I had some of Alex's lines already memorized and a vague idea of the blocking, but I had to do some major work to perform his track with such short notice. I did not have any proper rehearsal until hours before I went on, so my first few performances were a very high-stress experience. I was so worried about blanking on lines or messing up a set-change that I wasn't able to feel fully comfortable right away.

Did you have a run-through with Noah Bridgestock and Nathan Mohebbi Thursday afternoon?

Yes. On Thursday, we only had four hours of rehearsal to get me as ready as possible. I did costume fittings when I arrived, and then my stage manager Angela talked me through the blocking as quickly as possible. We then did an intimacy warmup before running through the show with full tech. I got some notes from Angela, broke for dinner, and came back to do that evening's performance.

What was running through your head moments before curtain?

I was running on a mix of anxiety and adrenaline. I think the thing that kept me sane was knowing that I wasn't alone. Angela, Noah, Nathan, and my assistant stage manager Nico had my back, so I just tried to remind myself that they were going to cover for me if I screwed up.

Are there three understudies? Or are you the swing for all three roles?

It's just me!

How many rehearsals have you actively been a part of?

I have been present at rehearsals since tech began, but my first actual rehearsal on stage was hours before the show you saw.

Was the set change choreography the easiest or hardest aspect of understudying Alex for you?

The set changes were the most difficult part without a doubt. Our show uses cubes and mattresses to create a bed, couch, massage table, dining areas, etc. and there are quite a few different configurations. On that first night, Nathan and Noah were whispering what I was supposed to do for half of the scene changes. I couldn't have done it without them.

If you were to submit your character Alex for an online dating site, what qualities of his would you list?

Logical, hard-working, and sweet.

What flaws would you definitely omit?

Oh my gosh, I am so wrapped up in Alex's perspective after last week that it's hard to think of his flaws - ask me again when I'm playing Josh!

What would your three-line pitch for Afterglow be?

It's just one line, but the one I have heard floating around rehearsals most is "come for the sex, stay for the drama." I think that's pretty fitting.

With all the intimate sexual physicality and no one wearing modesty patches, was there an intimacy coordinator on the set for rehearsals? Were you a part of those sessions?

We actually have two intimacy coordinators, Ann James and Chelsey Morgan. I had met both of them in tech but had not been present for any previous intimacy rehearsals. Due to the last-minute nature of Thursday's rehearsal, our stage manager Angela (who has been trained to facilitate the intimate moments in our show) walked me through it all. On Friday, I got to work with Chelsey to add some more nuance to those moments. We also do an intimacy warm-up at the top of each show.

How long did it take for you to be comfortable onstage nude? A rehearsal? A run-through? Five minutes?

Because I was so focused on saying the right lines and not screwing up the scene changes, I didn't really even have time to worry about the nudity! It was much easier for me to take off my clothes than to remember how to do complex set movements at the last minute.

Interview: Understudy Nate Richardson Basking in His AFTERGLOW After Triumphant First Time Onstage As an understudy do you have to physically be present at the Hudson for every performance?

I arrive at every half hour call with the other actors and typically leave when the performance begins, and I stay close by in case anything happens.

What's next in the near future for Nate Richardson?

Hopefully, a lot! I just shot a short this week that was a blast, and I would love to continue to work on film and TV sets as much as possible. I am a huge horror fan, and a big goal of mine is to act in something scary. I also dabble in screenwriting and will ideally have a script or two finished by the end of 2022. But professional goals aside, I'm currently trying to build community in L.A. and practice creativity daily.

Thank you again, Nate! I look forward to seeing what you do next.

Thank you for your support and interest! It means the world.

For tickets to the live performances of Afterglow through June 19, 2022 at the Hudson Theatre; click button below.

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