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Alas, poor Tennant!

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hotjohn
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Alas, poor Tennant!#1
Posted: 12/8/08 at 5:12pm
Due to a back injury David Tennant didn't appear as Hamlet tonight, the night I had tickets! Thankfully I got them from the theatre box office and didn't pay hundreds of pounds on eBay.

I'm not sure what the understudy arrangements are but tonight it was advertised in the lobby that Laertes was going on as Hamlet, Rosencrantz as Laertes and someone (the cleaner, for all I know) as Rosencrantz. Given that this is the first time that David Tennant has missed a performance, all three were presumably going on in their new roles for the first time. I just couldn't face over three and a half hours watching second, third and fourth fiddles and my partner (who really only agreed to go because of Dr Who) would have rather poked his eyes out than sit through it.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#2
Posted: 12/8/08 at 6:36pm
This must be the most intimidating production on earth. Not only is half the play in every book of quotations out there, thus making it REALLY hard to deliver it to an audience, it must be TERRIFYING being an understudy.

I think it's hideously unfair to refer to the other cast members as second, third, and fourth fiddles. They're all trained, skilled, rehearsed, and professional. The entire cast were excellent when I saw them in November, and I'm sure they were excellent - if terrified! - tonight.
OncomingStorm
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#2
Posted: 12/8/08 at 8:01pm
I was there tonight too, im a student and me and a friend got tickets purely to see David tonight. I saw the production in stratford and David was incredible in it. We chose to stay tonight because the RSC actors are incredible and we weren't let down. Edward Bennett taking Tennants place tonight gave an amazing performance and was given a standing ovation at the end of the play, something also got by Tennant in Stratford, so needless to say im not the only person who thought so. Having seen both actors in the role there is very little difference in their performance, but given time to develop his own take on the role Bennett could be equally as good as Tennant. In my opinion leaving was a mistake. You missed a good night and a fantastic actor's debut as Hamlet.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#3
Posted: 12/9/08 at 2:56am
You should have nipped over to the Duke of Yorks' to see if it was Anita Harris in the Royal Circle. re: Alas, poor Tennant!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#4
Posted: 12/9/08 at 9:39am
I had a brilliant title all thought out to start a thread on this, but hey, someone beat me to it!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#5
Posted: 12/9/08 at 11:52am
Confirmed he will miss opening night!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#6
Posted: 12/9/08 at 11:56am
How very unfortunate for him, but it's better he recover completely than risk permanent injury.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#7
Posted: 12/9/08 at 12:36pm
I know I shouldn't have referred to the understudies as second fiddle etc. but the David Tennant non-show rounded off a very exhausting weekend. I had terrible trouble sleeping for the three nights before and could hardly keep my eyes open anyway - three hours and thirty five minutes of Hamlet was too much - David Tennant just might have kept me awake.

I've seen Hamlet many times before and have a ticket for the Donmar production at Wyndhams next June so I don't feel particularly deprived as far as the great Dane goes.

I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that a member of the royal family doesn't drop dead before Thursday's Royal Variety Performance!
Updated On: 12/9/08 at 12:36 PM
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#8
Posted: 12/9/08 at 3:00pm
That's awful, poor David. How does Press Night work in London? Does his being out tonight mean that the critics can't review his performance? That absolutely sucks, I hope he recovers soon.
"It's Phantom meets Hamlet... Phamlet!"
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#9
Posted: 12/10/08 at 1:41pm
He will be undergoing surgery tomorrow for a slipped disc, and wont be returning until after Christmas.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7776191.stm
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#10
Posted: 12/10/08 at 2:14pm
Ouch and wish him well, my goodness thats going to cause a nightmare.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#11
Posted: 12/10/08 at 3:47pm
Well wishes from across the pond as well. It's very unfortunate that this has happened.

Was this his West End Debut?
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#12
Posted: 12/10/08 at 3:55pm
Nah, he's done the West End before. Quen's, Comedy, Albery, Donmar, stint at the National.

I wasn't sure if I was going to try queueing for a day seat once this one got to London. Now I know I'll be getting the understudy, I'm going to have to. re: Alas, poor Tennant!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#13
Posted: 12/10/08 at 5:33pm
He's not back until after Christmas?

That's going to be a lot of pissed off punters. And while the RSC may have a well trained understudy on, you're a snob or a fool if you believe that a significant number of tickets weren't sold to people whose sole interest in the production was David Tennant.

I wish the man the best for his recovery, and would like to remind everyone else that the RSC get 15 million in ACE funding which bought a hell of a lot of publicity for this production.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#14
Posted: 12/10/08 at 6:04pm
From the BBC News website today (Weds):

"The RSC said refunds would not be issued "because the company has a fully rehearsed understudy policy"."

But today's Evening Standard says, of understudy Edward Bennett:

"With Hamlet he had not even had a chance to practise since the RSC moved to London this month after a run in Stratford. As understudy rehearsals were due to start this week, Bennett did not even know where his entrances and exits were when he got his first stab at the role on Monday night."

I rest my case (see the first entry under this title).

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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#15
Posted: 12/10/08 at 6:10pm
I was there monday night and Bennett was amazing. You had no idea he'd never rehearsed the role and i know the play rather well and he was as good as word perfect. It really is worth going if you have tickets because he plays the role just as well as Tennant (ive seen the play twice, once in stratford and once in london).
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#16
Posted: 12/10/08 at 6:13pm
C'mon, the Evening Standard? Anyway, he must have been rehearsed in the *role* (else the Stratford run would have been hilariously awful had Tennant's back trouble kicked in then), just not the proscenium set-up. Oh no, he wasn't quite sure which of the "walking off through the audience exits" had been changed to "go out downstage left" or "go out upstage left". I bet you any money he knows where they all are now, and it's not like you would've even noticed, seeing as you didn't stay in the end. re: Alas, poor Tennant!

Exy, I don't think anyone's under the delusion that this play would've sold half as well with just anyone in the title role. But, as I believe has been said on another board, it's an important reminder to people that s*** *does* happen in live theatre, and if you can avoid it, do NOT pay ridiculously over the odds like the eBay people did just to see one particular cast member.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#17
Posted: 12/10/08 at 7:30pm
"Nah, he's done the West End before. Quen's, Comedy, Albery, Donmar, stint at the National. "

Thanks, Weez.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#18
Posted: 12/10/08 at 11:24pm
As the RSC spokesperson said 'its an ensemble company, The Royal Shakespeare Company. You pay to see the company not the stars who appear in certain shows'.
Good luck to the understudy who is gonna get a great career boost from this and the very best of wishes to Mr Tennent.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#19
Posted: 12/11/08 at 4:49am
If you read the Hamlet London programme theres a section in there about the rehearsal period for understudies so he would have definately be rehearsed in the role.

Its a stunning production anyway, although I was lucky enough to see Tennant in the role, it was the production as a whole that impressed, not just Tennant.
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#20
Posted: 12/11/08 at 5:56am
As someone who was in the RSC 2005/06 and understudied 2 parts in each show, I can tell you that you are extremely well rehearsed and must be up to speed by the very first preview in each venue. You have an assistant director especially for that purpose and you have a public understudy performance in Stratford. As an understudy you have to be able to go on at a moments notice and so you watch the rehearsals and performances of the main actors. Having spoken to the box office in Stratford people were buying tickets for their 6 year old children because they wanted to see Dr Who! Pathetic!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#21
Posted: 12/11/08 at 9:44am
Exactly Bazzer, the RSC are a well rehearsed company and its pretty sad if the theatre is full of Dr Who fans crying because they arn't seeing Tennent instead of real theatregoers. I think its great that no refunds will be given.
Tennent is 21st on the cast list not a star name over the title.
Updated On: 12/11/08 at 09:44 AM
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#22
Posted: 12/11/08 at 8:41pm
I remember when I saw Dustin Hoffman in The Merchant of Venice he also shunned the big star treatment with regard to cast lists, bows etc.

On Monday night after I decided not to attend Hamlet I was left with two unused tickets and no offer from the box office of any refund/substitution. Yesterday I read online that the RSC were offering replacement tickets to other London productions - an offer that I wasn't made. I e-mailed them last night and today received a very kind offer - they have said that I can choose two complimentary tickets to either A Midsummer Night's Dream or Taming of the Shrew. I've seen Dream umpteen times but never seen Shrew on stage before so I'm looking forward to it in February. Result!
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re: Alas, poor Tennant!#23
Posted: 12/11/08 at 9:10pm
Nice.