“At today’s performance, the role of John Smith will be played by Joe Bloggs.”
A notice that has the potential to cause mixed emotions in theatregoers everywhere! It can be a bit disappointing if you’ve booked specifically to see a certain star – or exciting if the understudy is an actor you’ve enjoyed seeing perform before.
It’s not really something I’ve had to contend with before; if I’ve wanted to see a particular actor in a role I’ve booked the ‘percentages’ (generally a Saturday night), plus I haven’t been in the theatre game long enough to really start following up and coming stars.
But then Sunny Afternoon happened! At time of writing, I’ve seen it 26 times… You could say I’ve got fairly attached. So when I found out that first one, then two principal cast members were going to be off I started to worry – not that the covers would be bad, but that I’d discover I loved the cast more than the show! That would be ever so slightly heartbreaking!
Safe to say this is not the case. Phew!
Luke Baker has taken centre stage as Ray Davies for almost two weeks now, following a couple of shows around New Year – taking over from John Dagleish for a bit. To say it’s a big part to step into is an understatement (Ray is probably only offstage for about 5 minutes!) – but Luke has very quickly grown into the role. So far I’ve seen seven of his performances, and it’s just brilliant to see him putting his stamp on the character with his own little quirks – every time I watch him he gets better and better!
This week just gone Robbie Durham has had the chance to play Dave Davies, stepping up at the eleventh hour! He’s had a ball as Dave, which really shines through in his performance. I was lucky enough to see him on his first night – I had a mixture of nerves and excitement, as award-nominated George Maguire‘s shoes are big ones to fill, but Robbie’s rendition of ‘I Gotta Move’ at the top of the show set me at ease straightaway. I’ve since seen him in two more shows and, like Luke, he’s got better each time.
Robbie and Luke have formed a fantastic partnership, which has gone from strength to strength over their short time together in the lead roles. And they’ve both been wonderfully supported by the entire company, in particular the remaining two Kinks (Adam Sopp as Mick Avory and Ned Derrington as Pete Quaife).
For me, the real test would be whether their performances would be able to make me cry – and they have! (I had to assure Luke this was a good thing though!)
Just goes to show you can’t keep a good show down! Especially when it has such strength in depth.
God Save The Kinks! God Save Sunny Afternoon!