Aaron Umsted, 2005 DHS Graduate, always dreamed of a career as a professional actor. Since graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2009, he has been living that dream. Currently he is touring the country in the Broadway revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. In addition to being a member of the ensemble, Umsted is the understudy for the lead role of Billy Crocker, and recently due to an injury to the current lead actor in the middle of the show, he performed in that role at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles. Starting the show in the ensemble and finishing as the lead. This performance was the subject of an article in the LA Times which reported:
Aaron Umsted took to the stage as the lead actor due to an accident that prevented Erich Bergen from continuing in the role of Billy Cocker. The show halted and 15 minutes into the show , Bergen sustained a leg injury that left him unable to make his entrance and the curtain came down. An announcement was made that the show would resume in 10 minutes. Umsted filled the role of Billy Crocker for the rest of the performance.
Umsted normally a member of the show’s ensemble said he had 10 minutes to change costume and microphones before the show resumed. “I don’t know if it was a dream or a nightmare.”Maybe the former,” said the 26 year old actor in an interview.”
Understudy rehearsals took place two to three times per week at the beginning of “Anything Goes” tour and now take place about every other week. Understudies are trained to take over a role at a moments’ notice when a principal cast member is unable to perform. Most understudies also cover multiple roles in a single production. Umsted covers for the parts of Lord Evelyn Oakleigh and Luke, in addition to Billy Crocker. “I go through each role in my hotel room at least once a week, so that there’s no panic or freaking out,” said Umsted. “It’s about repetition and drilling it all into your body and mind.”
As for the performance in Los Angeles, a member of the audience reported that Umsted did not disappoint; “He was rewarded with a thunderous applause at the end of the show.”
Anything Goes, which features music by Cole Porter, is scheduled to run through the end of August 2013. The tour will be traveling to such cities as Las Vegas, Chicago, Washington D.C, Toronto, St. Louis, and Memphis and Fayetteville. Next month, the show will be in Dallas, where it will be performed at the new Winspear Opera House also known as the ATT Performing Arts Theater February 13-24. Ticket sales are handled through the box office at the Winspear Opera House and by visiting the show’s website at www.anythingoesontour.com.
This was not the first time that Aaron had performed the role of Billy Crocker. While a senior at Durant High School, he was cast in the role when the show was staged by the Theatre Department at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. “Because of that early experience, this is a role that is a special one to me,” said Umsted.
Even though he may or may not get to perform this particular part, since he is the understudy, he will still be on stage singing, dancing, and tapping as a member of the ensemble. But he will be ready as the understudy at a moments notice should it be necessary, because in the theatre, “Anything Goes.”