|Loved, loved, loved Aleks Pevec in|
Something Rotten (not a Cam Mac
show). I'd definitely go see him again.
Guess what? He's an understudy.
Then there's this line in the article linked above: "He conceded that the rapid expansion of social media had 'caught everybody by surprise'." What?? No. That excuse may have worked five-ish years ago, but you've had plenty of time to adjust to this reality. What makes that statement all the more frustrating (and hard to believe!) is that at least two of the affected shows in London-- Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera--are great examples of how a popular show should run its social media. I've gotten ideas from them fairly often in my work as a social media manager.
I'm not completely ignorant of the realities of having an understudy on vs. the principal performer--when I searched tickets for Les Misérables on Broadway last summer, it was obvious there were more unsold seats for Tuesday nights, when John Owen-Jones was out on vocal rest, than on other nights. However, this policy, as many have pointed out, just makes it sound like the company is trying to pull a fast one. Plus, it seems like they have no respect either for their performers or the audience. Another excellent article on The Stage points out that very thing:
Social media is readily conscripted by managements and marketers to promote their shows, but it seems counter-intuitive to try to control their most powerful agents – the actors themselves – in this way. It suggests the actors are not to be trusted with their own information, and that somehow an understudy notice would harm the show.
Which brings me back round to my earlier question--if you appreciate your audience, and you respect and trust your actors, but you simply must be the one to share show news: why not set up a system announcing when the principals are planning to be off and understudies will be on? Put it out with enough time that fans can plan when to attend, understudies can share the news with their fans, and principals can shout out their understudies before taking off (which they presently can't do, according to the news releases, despite what the linked tweet says). This is such an easy fix that wouldn't have the attendant bad press Cameron Mackintosh is currently getting.
The theatre world loves you, Cam Mac. Show us some love back, would you?