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The Understudy: See This Comical Play-Within-a-Play at Abingdon’s Barter Theatre in July

Beginning July 1, Barter Theatre will present “The Understudy.” Set in a present day theatre, “The Understudy” features two actors and a stage manager who just can’t get along.

Poster image for “The Understudy” designed by Justin Slone.

“The Understudy” is a hysterically insightful comedy which seeks to pull back the curtain and look a little too closely at what goes on backstage to make a Broadway play come to life.

Personal and professional collide when Roxanne, a lovesick stage manager, is forced to work with Harry, her ex-fiancé, who feels he is an under-appreciated understudy. Harry is the understudy for Jake, an overpaid action movie star who doesn’t even understand the role he is performing. But the show must go on…if it can.

With an unreliable soundboard operator and displeased producers, Roxanne’s show may exit stage left before it has even seen the spotlight. Will the show ever open? Will Roxanne let go and give in to her feelings? Will Harry and Jake find common ground before it’s too late?

Critically acclaimed playwright Theresa Rebeck, who authored “The Understudy,” is a widely produced playwright throughout the United States and abroad. Rebeck has written more than a dozen popular plays. She has also written and produced for many hit televisions shows. One of her latest works is the hit NBC series “Smash,” which she created. “Smash,” is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway Theater, following a group of dreamers and schemers who all have the desire to be a “Smash.”

“The Understudy” is a humanistic look at people who are just trying to do what they love, in spite of the obstacles they face. Artistic Director Richard Rose is directing the show and says, “Rebeck has created true characters who struggle to find another fellow traveler that can successfully accompany them on the pilgrimage for salvation on this path we call life.”

“The Understudy” features Associate Artistic Director Nicholas Piper as Harry, the understudy. Audiences may recognize Piper from his role as Sherlock in “Sherlock Holmes & the Hound of the Baskervilles” or as Fred from “A Modern Christmas Carol.”

Andrew Hampton Livingston of “Mary’s Wedding,” “Southern Fried Nuptials,” and “Love, Sex, and the I.R.S.” will play Jake, the action movie star.

Carrie Smith Lewis will complete the cast as Stage Manager Roxanne. Lewis has been a staple of the Barter Resident Acting Company playing roles like Harline Frye in “Southern Fried Nuptials” and Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker.”

“The Understudy” is made possible by corporate sponsor Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. Barter Theatre is funded in part by The Virginia Commission for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.