The Standbys


Every night on Broadway, dozens of the best performers aren’t on stage. They are backstage, standing by, ready to go on at a moment’s notice. Go behind the curtain with The Standbys, an emotional documentary following three Broadway understudies – “the quintessential underdogs” – waiting for their chance of a lifetime. Industry insiders and standbys-turned-stars weigh in on the unique struggles of those who wait in the wings for their shot at a dream that may never come true.
Director Stephanie Riggs follows three understudies at different points in their careers. For more than a year, Broadway newcomer Ben Crawford (a Tucson native!) had been the standby for a Tony-nominated actor who played the title role in Shrek. Will he ever get his big chance to perform the role he’s prepared for all year, or will he always be on the sidelines? Merwin Foard has covered 25 roles in a Broadway career that’s lasted just as many years. He takes minor roles to feed his family rather than hold out for the big leading roles – is now is the time to change his strategy? Aléna Watters quickly achieved her initial goals on Broadway after moving to New York, but when her dreams are brutally crushed, can she find the courage to continue? The Standbys movingly explores the hidden dramas of these talented performers’ daily lives, including how they master roles with little preparation, what the chances of actual success may be, and what happens when they finally get that thrilling call to go on. And when these Standbys are finally given the chance of a lifetime, anything can – and does – happen.
(Dir. by Stephanie Riggs, 2012, USA, 76 mins., Not Rated, Nehst Media) Digital