Jonathan is in the documentary called The Standbys which will be premiering at Seattle International Film Festival next month. Jonathan did an interview in the documentary sharing his memories of being standby/understudy:
Riggs said “The Standbys” will be shown at the Seattle International Film Festival in June, and she is seeking a distributor.
The documentary tells the stories of Merwin Foard, standby for star Nathan Lane in the now-closed “The Addams Family”; Ben Crawford, standby and eventual replacement for Brian d’Arcy James as the green ogre in “Shrek The Musical”; and Aléna Watters, who briefly was standby for the role of Anita in the recent revival of “West Side Story” and was a swing for Bette Midler’s backup singers in her Las Vegas show.
The film depicts their highs and lows as they win and lose jobs as well as their interactions with family, friends and “significant others.”
There also are interviews with performers such as David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Cheyenne Jackson and Jonathan Groff, who share their memories of working as standbys or understudys.
Foard, who also was a standby in “Sweeney Todd” and “Kiss Me Kate” and has performed in 10 other Broadway shows, said standbys must do 99% of their preparation on their own.
The film shows him rehearsing lines with his young daughter and follows him on a Sunday when he learns that he would be playing the lead role in “The Addams Family” on Broadway that afternoon. “The Standbys” includes interviews with audience members outside the theater before and after that performance.
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