The Understudy

By Theresa Rebeck

Directed by Michael Mendelson

September 8, 2015 – October 4, 2015

Alder Stage

An understudy rehearsal for a fictional Kafka play on Broadway teeters on the edge of reality when Harry – the understudy for Jake, who is the understudy for Bruce, a Hollywood action star about to land a multimillion-dollar part – must work with the ill-fated production’s exasperated stage manager whose life he ruined long ago. The Understudy is a raucously funny existential exposé on human motivation that examines the underbelly of the theatre business and the personal drama behind the curtain.

  • Off-Broadway and regional theatre hit comedy from the creator of TV’s Smash
  • Portland Premiere

RUN TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes, no intermission

Cast and Production Team


Ayanna Berkshire +^


Gavin Hoffman +



Theresa Rebeck


Michael Mendelson +*^



Scenic Designer: Megan Wilkerson #^

Lighting Designer: Kristeen Willis #

Costume Designer: Sarah Gahagan ^

Production Assistant: Michael Stahler

Production Assistant: Tori Zanalari

Board Op: Phil Johnson

Composer & Sound Designer: Rodolfo Ortega #^

Wardrobe: Will Bailey

Fight Choreographer : Jonathan Cole *^

+ Member of Actors Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

* Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

# The scenic, costume, lighting, projection & sound designers are represented by United Scenic Artists

^ Artists Rep Resident Artist

Production Media




"...all three (actors) are up to it, shifting and accelerating pretty much effortlessly under Michael Mendelson’s smooth and swiftly paced direction, and the evening bubbles along on a light sea of laughter, affection, and appreciation for the acting art."
- Bob Hicks, Oregon ArtsWatch

"…smart, streamlined production at Artists Repertory Theatre directed by Michael Mendelson blends raucous humor with grim yet poignant insights…"
-Holly Johnson, The Oregonian

"It’s a strong start to the season for a theater clicking with the rhythm of a watch and continuing to provide interesting material year after year."
Joe Jatcko,

"It feels less like watching a play and more like eavesdropping on a mashup of backstage goings-on and a late-night literary debate in a dark cafe. It's also very funny..."
Krista Garver,

"I haven't laughed so hard at a show since I was watching a stand-up comic perform."
Meg Currell, EDGE Media

“It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry, but laugh I did. A lot."
-Judy Nedry,

“…the fifth character, unseen, is the set itself, takes on a life of its own.”
-Dennis Sparks, Dennis Sparks Reviews

"...a masterpiece of comic clockwork. Pulverizingly funny!"
- Wall Street Journal

"A razor-sharp black comedy..."
- Entertainment Weekly