Birmingham Stage Company

The Year of the Understudy

15 December 2008

It's clearly time for the understudy to take over! As the fuss continues over Hamlet's understudy Edward Bennett (who sounds like a lovely chap) we've had our own experience with THE JUNGLE BOOK, in which our lead actor had to miss several weeks of the tour - leaving the door open for his understudy to take over Mowgli. And what a wonderful job Steve Castelaz is doing. So much so that when it became clear the original actor could not return, we had absolutely no hesitation in promoting Steve to the leading role.

I agree with Edward Bennett that all producers should think seriously about their understudies and ensure they are right for the role. We've always searched hard to find the right people for this very difficult job, so much so that in previous productions, our understudy for Tom in TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN went on to secure the title role when the tour went out a second time (the wonderful Cameron Slater).

As one of my mentors Nat Brenner used to say: there's no such thing as small parts, only small actors!

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