Ahead of its world premiere at the Tony Awards Film Series on May 12, Indiewire has the exclusive trailer for Stephanie Rigg’s Broadway understudy expose, “The Standbys.”
Riggs below explains her reasons for documenting the journey of three standby Broadway performers and what her film boils down to:
“The Standbys” is a story of the actors you don’t see. Those performers who are so talented that huge Broadway productions trust them to stand by backstage as understudies for the lead to carry an entire show. The only catch is that they’re never going to be famous enough names to actually be given that lead role in a production. This documentary film follows three amazingly gifted but undiscovered performers backstage on Broadway through their dramatic ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, onstage performances and private lives. All of them fighting against long odds with the hope that one day all of their hard work will finally earn them a moment in the spotlight to prove what they’re capable of.
Filming took place in New York City and followed three real actors for as they struggled for a spot on the Great White Way. In the course of this short time, they would face powerful life-changing moments in their career. They would meet incredible opportunities, unexpected betrayals, heartbreaks, cruel audiences, and a career path that challenges everyone to face the brutal realities of show business. Through it all, their refusal to quit is measured against that thankless role where night after night they dream of one day getting a chance to show their work to the world.
While “The Standbys” follows three great theater performers and has the backdrop of Broadway, it was important to me for the film to speak to a wide audience who doesn’t follow that world. Ultimately this isn’t just a story about Broadway – it’s about that bigger question all of us wrestle with. Is it worth it to devote your life and career to working tirelessly toward a goal you may never attain? If very few people ever get to appreciate your work and you never receive widespread acknowledgement for all your efforts, would you still follow that path? These three actors represent that passion, that fear, and that same hope in all of us who work a thankless job and chase after that most unlikely dream of greatness in a world that may never know us.