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The Udnerstudy – Second best can be a bitch

Media Release

22nd July 2014


THE UNDERSTUDY – Second best can be a bitch.

By Theresa Rebeck

Directed By Amie Bentall

Season – August 6th to August 9th, 8pm

Matinee – August 9th, 2pm


Tickets: $18 (adults), $15 (concession) and $15 (for groups of 6+). General admission with no allocated seating. Door sales will be available on the night. Running Time: 90 minutes (no interval)

The second production from the new HLT Studio gives Auckland theatre goers the rare chance to experience a work by one of America’s leading contemporary playwrights.

The UnderstudySecond Best Can Be a Bitch by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Amie Bentall, is a dazzling and humanistic look at people trying to do what they love in the face of obstacles that mount until all anyone can do is dance.

Charged with running the understudy rehearsal for the Broadway premiere of a previously undiscovered Kafka masterpiece, Roxanne has one afternoon to get it right. There’s just one problem – nothing goes right. Roxanne finds her professional and personal life colliding when Harry, a journeyman actor and also her ex-fiancé, is cast as the understudy to Jake, a mid-tier action star yearning for legitimacy. As Harry and Jake find their common ground, Roxanne tries to navigate the rehearsal with a stoned lighting operator, an

omnipresent intercom system, the producers threatening to shutter the show and her own careening feelings about both actors and her past.

Launched as the centrepiece of Howick Little Theatre’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the HLT Studio is a smaller theatre experience where experimental and innovative productions can be staged. The HLT Studio aims to encourage new and returning actors, new directors, new writers and new designers to experience community theatre in an environment tailored to nurture emerging talent.

HLT Studio Artistic Director, Terry Hooper explains: `Our mission is to present three short seasons of plays and a series of regular staged readings each year. We introduce new talent to all aspects of theatre, from the technical designers and crew to the production team, directors, actors and more.

`Our first production features a first-time director, with an established (usually NZ-based) play. The second production is an established play selected for emerging actors to shine, with an experienced director. Finally, the third production is a new work written by a new local playwright, supported by an accomplished production team – both on and off stage.’

HLT President, Rae McGregor explains: `For 60 years Howick Little Theatre has been producing high-quality, entertaining, accessible and enriching theatre as well as creating an environment that encourages and recognises the artist in each of us. Throughout its history, Howick Little Theatre has been a committed champion of New Zealand theatre, premiering a number of local productions and nurturing our native talent. We wanted to mark this special year by introducing the HLT Studio, which aims to bring new talent to community theatre as well as persuade old friends to come back, by getting involved in shorter and less demanding productions.’

HLT Artistic Adviser, Alison Mudford adds: `Our five main productions each year are some of the best and most professional community theatre experiences in New Zealand. In 60 years the theatre has evolved to become one of Auckland’s best-known and most respected community theatres.

The HLT Studio is designed to be a less intimidating, more intimate, but no less professional introduction to theatre and we are thrilled that Terry Hooper and Nick Martin brought the concept to us and have volunteered to help bring it into being.’

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