Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

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.



Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories


From This Author - Gil Kaan

Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in his career; including... (read more about this author)

Interview: Nicci Claspell Talks Touring With MOULIN ROUGE!
July 5, 2022

The North American tour of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Moulin Rouge! The Musical has already begun its L.A. premiere at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre June 30, 2022. Tony Award winner Alex Timbers directs this touring cast led by Courtney Reed as Satine and Conor Ryan as Christian. I had the chance to throw out a few questions to Nicci Claspell who plays Arabia (one of the Lady Marmalades).

Interview: Carolene Joy Cabrera King Shows TOO MUCH SKIN in SheLA Summer Theatre Festival
July 2, 2022

Playwright Carolene Joy Cabrera King’s TOO MUCH SKIN will debut as part of SheLA’s annual Summer Theatre Festival July 15, 2022, at the Zephyr Theater.  Carolene depicts the story of Filipino siblings navigating assimilation and battling stereotypes via the world of cosplay and videos. Carolene took some time from her rehearsals to answer a few of my SKIN queries.

Interview: FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME's Aneesa Folds Raps On Her Journey With the Tour & the FLS Academy
July 2, 2022

The national tour of Freestyle Love Supreme lands at the Pasadena Playhouse July 12, 2022. This theatrical creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale’s received a Special Tony Award in 2020. I had a very delightful phoner with cast member Aneesa Folds.

Interview: DEAR EVAN HANSEN Returns to the Ahmanson With a New Evan - Anthony Norman
June 28, 2022

The relaunched national touring company of Dear Evan Hansen returns to the Ahmanson June 26, 2022. Winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, a Grammy and a Olivier; this production stars Anthony Norman as the titular character.

Interview: TO T, OR NOT TO T? - That's D'Lo's Ongoing Question
June 23, 2022

Next up for Center Theatre Group’s fourth season of Block Party, D’Lo’s solo show To T, or Not To T? (A Comedic Trans Journey through (T)estosterone and Masculinity) beginning previews June 25, 2022 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. D’Lo hilariously takes us on his journey transitioning while bridging his traditional Tamil Sri Lankan family with his Queer/Trans chosen family. I had the chance to pick D’Los brain on his back story to To T, or Not To T?