2011-11-03 / Letters to the Editor

Understudy shows maturity on stage

Sometimes, as a director of a Jamestown Community Theatre production, I run across an individual who truly goes beyond my wildest expectations. “The Wizard of Oz,” our current musical, embraces many people who have worked hard to make this show extra special, and I thank each one, and the group as a whole, for embracing this project with such genuine passion and effort.

However, I would like to thank one person individually. She is fifthgrader Abigail Hirsch. With her heart set on winning the role of Dorothy, the dream of many other little girls, Abby was asked to be Dorothy’s understudy. Already disappointed that most likely she never would be the one actually performing the role, Abby felt a bit better knowing that she had been recognized as a very good singer, and would indeed be performing a solo in her role as the Jitterbug Kid. We discussed the responsibilities of an understudy, and yet as overwhelming as this undertaking might be for an 11-year-old, Abby agreed to take on the job.

In theater, an understudy is a person who learns the lines, blocking, music and choreography of a regular actor in a play, so if the actor is unable to appear on stage, the understudy takes over the part. Difficult for an adult to handle, we were reluctant to expect a child to be able to pull this off. Imagine attending all rehearsals, learning hundreds of lines and all the songs and dances, but never performing all of it in front of an audience.

Well, welcome to the world of Abigail Hirsch. This is what she has been all about for the last two months. Resolute to do her best, she has kept her eyes focused on 10-year-old Anza DiGasper, who plays Dorothy. Standing in for Anza only occasionally and with little time to practice during rehearsals, Abby knows she must pay attention. In truth, Abby and Anza have become friends, when each one, in fact, could have seen each other as a rival. There’s a lot of adults that could learn from that.

Yes, I want to thank everybody involved in the cast and crew of this show, but for now, I am singling out a young lady who has wowed all of us with her perseverance, effort, talent, resilience, sensitivity and maturity. Thank you, Abby. I know your parents, as well as I, have learned a lot about who you are throughout this process, and we are very proud of you.

Please come enjoy Abby as she sings “The Jitterbug” song, Anza, as she portrays Dorothy, and so many others from our Jamestown community who sing and dance in the JCT production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Performances are Fridays and Saturdays (Nov. 11-12, Nov. 18-19) at 7 p.m., and Sundays Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in Jamestown at Baker’s Pharmacy, Catharine Jamieson Salon, Conanicut Marine Store, and Secret Garden; in Newport at Pleasant Surprise, and in Wickford at Midnight Sun.

Mary Wright


Jamestown Community Theatre

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