We went to see Wicked on Wednesday night. For us, it lived up to the hype. The cast was excellent, and the costumes spectacular. DH even knew the actor playing the Wizard of Oz, from back when he lived in Manhattan, which was a special treat. We both thought it was the best theatrical performance we’ve seen in quite a few years.
I was somewhat disappointed that once again, we had a standby and/or understudy for one of the leading parts. For this performance, Donna Vivino (Elphaba) was replaced by her standby, Merideth Kaye Clark. My disappointment was only in not seeing Donna’s performance after hearing how fantastic she was in the role. I certainly wasn’t disappointed by Meredeth’s performance – she did a wonderful job.
I’ve had season tickets to the Broadway touring shows for somewhere around 15 years, upgrading my seats every season I was able to. We’re finally in the “Premier” seats (row F), and we’re thrilled with them. But I’ve been less than thrilled with the percentage of performances where we’ve had an understudy for one of the main roles, especially when it’s been the much-hyped “celebrity” performer for a play. It seems like it’s at least half of the plays, though I’ve never actually counted. (I’m not talking about understudies for minor characters, just the leads.)
My husband recently suggested that it was because we have tickets for Wednesday nights, and he said that was a common day for actors to “take off” on Broadway – though he thought it was usually the matinee performances, which we don’t have here on weekdays.
I’ve no doubt that it’s more common to have understudies for main roles on weekdays than on Friday and Saturday nights, but I wonder if it’s true that it’s more common to have them on Wednesdays? Does anyone know? I know that performers need an occasional break, and it’s important for the standbys and understudies to perform occasionally, but I’d rather not have season tickets for a day where that’s “typical”.
I’d consider changing my performance night, but am reluctant to do that because of how long it’s taken us to get really good seats. If I change nights for a weekend, we’ll almost certainly be in the “cheap seats” again, and we may never get back to the quality of seats we have now. But if I change for another week night, I might be changing for worse seats and still getting a lot of understudies, if it isn’t just an issue with Wednesdays in particular.