At Casting Frontier, our mission is to help actors everywhere supercharge their careers by applying to auditions, castings, and other acting opportunities online at the touch of a button. But while every actor dreams of the lead role in a theater show, usually we have to make do with what we get – and that goes double if you’re cast as an understudy. Some actors question whether or not a role as an understudy is even worth taking, but when done well, playing an understudy can provide experience, credits, and connections that propel your acting career forward. 


Tips on Playing an Understudy

Did you audition for the lead role in an upcoming play only to find out you’ve been cast as an understudy? Lucky you! And yes, we really mean that. Playing an understudy is a huge opportunity to not only gain experience but to prove yourself and network with actors and directors that may hire you for future roles. This can be a major stepping stone in your career if you play your cards right, so make sure to follow these tips:

Actor Holding Script During Theatrical Rehearsal

  • Don’t Treat It Like Half a Role: You may not be the main actor, but you’re still cast in the role. So make sure you treat it that way. Prepare for the understudy role in the same way you would a regular role, making sure to attend rehearsals, memorize your lines, and know your blocking like the back of your hand. 
  • Form a Relationship with the Other Actor: It’s a good idea to try to maintain a good relationship with the actor you’re understudying for. Just make sure to follow their lead, as some actors will be happy to have you shadow them, while others will need more privacy as a part of their own process. 
  • Watch How the Show Changes: While it’s important to learn your lines and blocking early on, recognize that the show will change as the actors develop their characters and create new moments on the stage. Make sure to watch for these subtle changes and update your notes as the show evolves. 
  • Stay Professional: Playing an understudy is a huge professional opportunity, so treat it like one. Show up prepared to every rehearsal and ready for anything, and be friendly, polite, and professional to the whole cast and crew. Do your job, and do it excellently – people will notice. 


Find Auditions Online Today

While many would turn their nose up at understudy roles, a great actor recognizes the huge opportunity that understudying can present for both their craft and their career. These tips will help you make the most of an understudy role and use it to build your acting career, and if you’re currently on the lookout for a role, Casting Frontier can help. Our online platform lets you audition for countless casting calls and acting opportunities at the touch of a button. Find your next acting job: apply for roles online today!