Eric Hissom beautifully and delicately underplays Jim Tyrone, Jr., in The Arden Theatre's current production of Moon for the Misbegotten, directed by Matt Pfeiffer. Eric is a smaller man than me with a light, crisp tenor voice, which contrasts to my larger profile and baritone voice with chestier tone. Reading the script aloud yesterday with Jennifer Summerfield, who understudies Josie, I realized once again that my job as Eric's understudy is to realize his actions--his intentions--with out overt mimicry of his physical choices, which don't fit on my body or in my voice. E.g., I would love to mimic Eric's little half-dance he often does, but considering that my stride is half again as long as his I might end up in the audience. If he hops like a bird, I'd bound like a stork. I do want to find Eric's combination of light vocal delivery with addled, neuropathic, often sluggish physical gestures, but I need to be patient if I don't find a combination that satisfies me in the condensed rehearsal period available for understudies.
I find that understudying is a terrific opportunity to rediscover the qualities of my own instrument.