YET AGAIN, social media is a blaze with unhappy theatre goers who booked tickets to see Glee star Amber Riley in the lead role of Effie White in Dreamgirls, which is in previews at the Savoy Theatre right now, as she has been missing shows and fans are not happy with seeing her understudy when they booked tickets to see her.
I understand the frustration. Many of these people on social media haven’t just booked tickets. They have booked hotels, train tickets and some even flights coming from all over the world to see Amber perform.
The answer? It’s simple. DON’T BOOK TICKETS TO SEE A STAR, book tickets if you want to see the show and then if the star name is performing, that is an extra bonus! Understudies are brilliant (and can often be better than the celebrity that has been cast in the role) and regardless of whether or not a show is being marketed on a celebrity name being in it, people are dreaming if they think there will not be occasions when the person is unable to perform.
Back in April 2016 there was uproar in the West End, when 69 year old Glenn Close was ill and unable to perform in Sunset Boulevard at the English National Opera. Her understudy Ria Jones was in fact the original Norma Desmond when the show was being workshopped, long before Glenn Close came along and so it was actually an incredible honour for people to be able to see her perform the role that she helped to create. Sadly, the uneducated audience members who booed at the beginning of the show didn’t realise who they were actually about to watch. Those who did stay to find out soon forgot about Glenn Close and Ria Jones received a standing ovation at the end of the show.
At the end of the day, live theatre is just that. Live. If you don’t want to run the risk that a certain performer may be ill or unable to perform on the date you go then don’t buy a ticket. If you want to guarantee seeing Glenn Close then watch the film Fatal Attraction. If you want to see Amber Riley, watch GLEE.
Go to the theatre to ‘go to the theatre’ and experience the joy it can bring. Don’t just go to see someone you’ve seen on TV before.
West End Wilma
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