The Fairy Princess knows this last few years have been rough – if you are in Show business, as she is – it has been particularly tricky. In fact, she was wondering if her wings had been ‘clipped’ as it were, by the pandemic – because if entertainment takes a permanent dive, particularly live entertainment – there would be nothing for her to prattle on about, and effectively – nothing to write about.

Plus which, there are now AAPI Movie Stars, and Television Stars, Hollywood is beginning to get it!

TFP’s blog is TEN YEARS OLD this year – A DECADE!

Whilst Broadway is still super under-repping not just AAPIs, but Latinx and Indigenous Performers and Creatives – there IS hope.

You know what gives her the most ‘hope’?

Female Creatives. Female Creatives who understood TFP‘s message long before anyone else besides marginalized performers. They did not need to be told twice, they understood the assignment – and it is leading to breathtaking productions around the country that are diverse and inclusive and speaking to everyone.

(Talking to you, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Rachel Chavkin, Tina Landau, Tisa Chang, Mia Katigbak, Leigh Silverman, Lainie Sakakura, Jennifer Phang, Maurissa Tancharoen, Lynn Chen, Larissa FastHorse, Camille A. Brown, Liesel Tommy, Dawn Monique Williams, Diane Rodriguez, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, Patricia Cardoso, Christine Henry, Lorna Ventura, etc etc)

Makes TFP‘s little Grinchy heart grow two thousand times bigger.

TFP thought, “Ok, perhaps it is time to wrap it up, given the current state of the world is just screaming, perhaps she should get out while the getting is good?

Thank goodness for Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League – whose members are the Producers of Broadway, because she issued this absolutely insane and egregious statement when Playbill asked her about the current state of Broadway

Which had TFP, a former Broadway Understudy for a TONY Winning Show like…

Now of course, of course, when there was pushback on Twitter and elsewhere on Social Media – St. Martin quickly issued an apology…

However, the statement itself has TFP thinking that it is time for Ms. St. Martin to ‘exit stage right’ as quickly as possible. No one who calls themselves a Producer, much less someone who is speaking for the Producers during a friggin’ PANDEMIC, would ever issue that kind of statement.

Producers raise money and put up shows. Then they do it again. Then they do it AGAIN. They can pick someone from obscurity and give them a chance at a life they had only dared to whisper to the mirror in the their teen bedroom into a brush, they can ALSO fire your ass and make sure you likely never work again by whispering in some ears.

They have a lot of power. Broadway does not exist without them. TFP is venturing to guess that Ms. St. Martin had to deal with some very irate members of the League, who know the value of their understudies. The fact that the retraction happened as quickly as it did, is proof something went down behind doors.

Broadway also does not exist without Understudies and Swings and Covers. They are the ‘emergency brake glass’ of Broadway and elsewhere. Producers know this. Sometimes the search for the Understudies and Covers and Swings is more arduous than the search for the original company because these are people who have to have the mental and physical capability to jump from role to role without a qualm.

In fact, TFP was in a show which was struck by sudden illness, and the Understudy had not even been put in rehearsal yet – however he learned the role in a few days, and wound up doing several performances. She had a conversation with the Producer off the cuff, and the Producer told her “I told them when we auditioned folks that we had to have him. He saved the day in the other show I did, and here he is doing it again.”

Understudies and Swings, unlike lead performers who only have one role to learn, often have to learn several ‘tracks’ within the same show.

She remembers seeing her friend in THE PRODUCERS on Broadway when he went on for one of the leads – then after the show he let her know he ‘covered’ all the larger male roles in the show – 5 tracks!

It is an absolute skill set to be able to keep track in your brain of which harmony you are supposed to sing because of which part you are ‘on’ for -not to mention blocking and costume changes. And of course, Choreography!

Think Charlotte St. Martin has ever covered 5 tracks?

To the ‘layperson’ who has no idea what TFP is talking about – she is going to ‘splain it in HAMILTON.

You are part of the Cast of HAMILTON (Disclaimer: TFP has no idea if these are the tracks assigned to the understudy, this is just an example for the non-biz folk)

Say you usually go to your job and do “Bullet’, (which is the track that Ariana DeBose did originally).

Let’s say the track of “Bullet” is the main Understudy for Eliza, but she also ‘covers’ Peggy and Angelica in dire emergency. That performer is required to know 4 tracks cold – they know this when they get the job.

Oh, here is Ariana in WEST SIDE STORY, in theaters now…

However this next night, you get to the theater and you hear that “Bullet’ is being done by your understudy because You (Regularly Bullet) are going on for ‘Eliza’ (Which is your main u/s track) for this evening’s performance.

By the way, you hear this when you walk into the theater at 7:30pm for an 8pm show.

Fine, you are prepared, you enjoy this track and you have done it before, the show goes great.

That is the job – that the show goes great – EVERY TIME. Awesome.

The next afternoon for the matinee, you are again, not playing Bullet – you are now “And, Peggy“. Regular ‘Eliza” is back on, so you are free to go and do your third track. Why you ask?

You are “And, Peggy” because the Actress that usually plays “And, Peggy‘ has food poisoning and is currently ill in the dressing room. You are pinned in a wig and a mic and a yellow dress, running blocking and lines in your head. You have never run “And, Peggy” outside of a rehearsal that has only been with a Stage Manager telling you where the other actors are standing, and perhaps another understudy or two standing in for the roles they are understudying.

And, Peggy” – GO!

Show goes great.

For the next couple of days everything is fine and normal and you are back to ‘Bullet”, except that Angelica is filming a soap opera during the day and it ran over and she cannot get there by ‘half hour’ so guess what – you are no longer “Bullet“, you are badass Angelica and in an orange dress. This one you have an hour to prep because you wanted to get to the theater early and stretch. Which is great, because this is the track that you are only supposed to cover in dire emergency, however two dancers collided with one another and they are out with sprained ankles.

However, you are a pro, and this is again, not an issue – the show continues, no one asks for refunds, and all are happy. Particularly the Producers, who pat themselves on the back for having the great good fortune to have such amazing performers in the show, who have this capacity.

This ‘story’ is not uncommon. Happens every day. With Covid that was ‘Just Covid’ that was then “Delta Dawn” that is now “Omicron, the Rebirth” – it is happening more than that. Nothing happened at all for 18 months remember? Everyone was clamoring, “We have to get Broadway back!”

However it could not come ‘back’ because no one was allowed to be near one another. Now with proof of vaccination and a rapid test CPR, there is an option of Broadway being ‘back’ as a theatergoer or a performer or a crew member or a front of house person.

Only if you have the vaccine and the booster folks!

If you want “Broadway’ and theater in and of itself ‘back’ – you need Understudies and Swings and Covers, oh myyyy.

Any Producer knows this – that the woman heading up the most powerful theatrical producing entity in the Country where the musical theater art form grew into what is the current day Broadway musical does NOT seem to know this, is a problem.

That she initially felt that understudies would not be prepared, when they train to be ready at a moment’s notice, is honestly, a theatrical crime.

It seems her opinion about understudies comes from more of an audience perspective, “I wanted to see Kristin Chenoweth, but she is out and her understudy is on, oh boooo” – which is literally the wrong mindset completely. When you see an Understudy go on, you are seeing the highest level of theatrical agility out there – you are seeing a thoroughbred.

TFP loves seeing understudies.

TFP has been a lead and she has been an understudy and trust and believe, it is way less stressful to have a run as a lead of a show, than being an understudy. One role vs several. Does keep you on your toes though!

It is a fact, as she stated above, that Ms. St. Martin does NOT create theater.

Clearly this is an issue, because in the words of the late, (Sob), great Sondheim, theater is ‘Bit by bit, putting it together” – that is what Producers do – they put it all together.

Sometimes they put the creative team together from the beginning, sometimes they come up with the concept and hire people for it, sometimes they just provide the money and rehearsal space – whatever they do to “PRODUCE” it, ultimately it brings the show to life.

TFP has a real question – If Ms. St. Martin does not create theater – why is she the mouthpiece for those who do?

Theater is not her background, and yet she joined The Broadway League as Executive Director and is now the current President since 2006!

Yet, she had to have a ‘sit down’ with Broadway understudies to find out what they do?

WTF does not know what an Understudy does if you are in theater?

Which got TFP to thinking – what is Ms. St. Martin’s background anyway?

TFP thought it would be great to go to the League’s website and see…here is a link to the whole thing, but this is a most telling ‘clip’.

TFP is not attacking Ms. St. Martin, however a working knowledge of what an Understudy does, should be required for the position she has. Perhaps the position she has is more administrative, and the skill set she took from the hospitality world is easily transferable, however she should not need a primer on the mechanics of what makes a show run.

Since she has been working with the Organization since 2006.

She should understand the how to’s of what needs to happen to get a show up and running.

Understudies, Swings, and Covers keep the show running in the worst of times. They keep shows running in the best of times. They are the reason catastrophes, or accidents, or illness does not sink a long running show – there would be NO long running show without understudies.

Producers know this.

So come get your girl….

TFP gives a thousand whacks of the wand and a primer on producing for Ms. St. Martin.

If you dare make an ‘educated guess’ – perhaps have the education to make one.

TFP out.

PS. If you click the link below, please see Hugh Jackman give it up for the Marian Understudy, Kathy Voytko and LISTEN to what he says…