First, a little about the show. It's an Off-Off Broadway show called Something Outrageous, and it's at the 45th Street Theater. It's a comedy show made up of sketches. Instead of having understudies, we have multiple casts. I'm now a part of four of those casts, due to various actors leaving the show.
The day before our show, the final rehearsal, one of the actors in my original cast called in sick. She promised to come to the show the next day.
The next day, she did in fact come. But she was still sick with a cold. Nothing awful, but enough to worry people.
We had a ton of people in this show. Each cast had about eight people in it. And since we're in a little Off-Off Broadway theater, we're sharing a tiny little dressing room that feels fairly crowded when only one cast is inside. We made do by rotating in and out of the theater before and after our shows needed to happen. Since I was in both the first and last show of the night, I was going to be in there for quite some time.
Some of you might see where this is heading.
I was very careful. I was only in one scene with my sick friend, and we never touched. I washed my hands a lot. I made sure not to share cups with anyone as we guzzled water in the hot backstage area. But by the end of the night, I and a large chunk of the remaining cast were starting to get sore throats.
Two days later, I'm now blowing my nose every few minutes and sucking on Zinc Coldeeze cough drops, not 100% sure they actually helping anything. I think they are. And I can only guess how many people in the other casts also caught the bug. Not to mention how that's going to affect our performance next week.
Acting is a job, and like any other job, if you're sick, it's usually best to stay home. But when you have something like a cold... do you really expect to stay home for the 10-14 days the typical common cold lasts for?
It makes things especially tricky when you have no understudies. If you're late or sick to any other job, it's an inconvenience. If you are late or sick to this job, it can (literally) be a show stopper. Yet when you do come, you then put the rest of the cast at risk for the same problem.
The solution? Understudies. Find them, get them, and use them. They are your show's insurance policy. And in the meantime, actors, try to stay healthy.
Photo courtesy of Howstuffworks.com and iStockphoto.com/WebSubstance