by Zach Adkins
Anastasia ensemblist Zach Adkins shares what he looks forward to most about taking over the role of Dmitry - and what he will miss most about performing in the show's ensemble.
I think there was always part of me in Dmitry, even from the beginning. During staging rehearsals watching the wonderful Derek Klena navigate and create this role, I knew that certain things he was doing wouldn’t work on my body. So, I started early on in the rehearsal process putting my own views and movement to Dmitry. As many understudies know this is typically not asked of us. A lot of what a Stage Manager and Resident Director are interested in is maintaining what is being created when we freeze a show. But I’m not exactly speaking to hitting marks and cues on stage, more of bringing my heart and self to the role.
I’ve gathered from the last three years of understudying leads, that people really do want to see you shine in these parts, even as an understudy. If you allow people to see you in the role, truthfully and honestly, they’ll start to connect with you behind the scenes more, because theatre has that amazing quality of bonding people with similar experiences.
Moving into the role full time will be a great adventure. Of course when you step away from a track you built, even an ensemble track, you hope your replacement will pick up on the small additions and traditions you’ve made, on and off stage, to your track. There are so many great moments I share with this strong ensemble, I think that’s what I’ll miss most. Whether it’s portraying silly black-marketeers in “Rumor in St. Petersburg” with the hilarious Kevin Munhall or if it’s being the classiest couple at the Neva Club with Shina Ann Morris, those moments will live on, if not on stage, with me.
As an understudy you hope one day you’ll be bumped into the role. You wait, you hope, you look for the opening, for someone to give you that break. I’m grateful to this creative team who took the time to look past the contributions I’ve been making this year in the ensemble of Anastaisa and see me in a new light. It’s these kind of people that should be celebrated in our business. Because I’m here to tell you, understudies are some of the smartest, hard working individuals you’ll find in the theatre. And they deserve to be taken seriously in recasting and not groaned over when your favorite star is out. These men and woman are the next crop of art influencers and shapers and I couldn’t be more proud to have started my career in their ranks.