Can anyone pass on info about the role of the swing orphan. Is this a coveted - or a dud role? In the current Australian production does the swing go on every night as an orphan and double as an understudy? Or does she only get to go on in the event if someone is sick?
Look forward to hearing from you.
Depends on the company. Usually the swing orphan covers five of the orphan roles. In the original casts that was how it was done. Only in the third national and the fourth maybe did the swing orphan go on every night in Smile. The third national only had five orphans and the fourth had four orphans to save money. So the awing orphans went on in Smile only.
Do you know how often approx the Swing got to go on to cover other orphans in any of the productions? Was it a once a week type thing - or more frequently?
Your thoughts appreciated.
I'm not an expert, but I doubt if it was anywhere near that frequent, unless there was a special reason otherwise. The swing traditionally only goes on if one of the orphans is sick or not able to perform for some reason. This is not likely to happen very often. An exception was during the 2007-2008 US national tour when Amanda Balon who played Annie had voice issues and needed to take some vocal rest. Her understudy, Grace Etzkorn, who normally played Kate, started to play the title role for every matinee. As a result, the swing (who was played by a short adult in this case) had to play the role of Kate for every matinee.
You asked if the swing orphans is a dud role. I say no. The swing orphan is the is the next in line to take over a regular role once someone out gowns the part or leaves. In the spring of 1979 a little girl named Louanne got hired to be the swing orphan in the 2nd national. Six weeks later she got hired to be Annie for Patty Patts who had our grown the part of Annie. She was picked over the understudy and all the other kids in the cast. So you never know.
The Swing is a popular Musical term (I don't know if they use Swings in Non-musicals or not). The Swing is the understudy for all of the females or males. therefore, the Swing Orphan would be the understudy for all of the orphans.
I saw the NETworks production (of Annie) when it was in Chicago 2 years ago. One of the orphans was about 26 years old - just a little bit short for her age. She clearly outdanced all of the "orphans". I am quite sure she was the swing, but she was probably the choreographer and maybe ever the kid wrangler.
One more thing: with all of those little kids and 8 shows a week, the Swing is probably in the show A LOT! One of those kids probably always has a cold or the flu and they would throw a costume on the Swing and on she would go. She probably understudies Annie, as well!
You can read my previous post for a bit more on this. In the Networks tour, Kate understudied Annie, Duffy understudied Molly, and the swing, who doubled as the child wrangler, understudied the remaining 5 orphans. The nature of that means the swing will be used anytime any of the children are sick, because when Annie is sick, the swing will have to understudy Kate. I don't think it's quite as common as you make it seem, but in special circumstances, like with Amanda Balon, the swing can get a lot of performance time.
In the latter part of 1980 on Broadway Aileen went on as the Swing in 67 performances.
That must be hard to keep track of so many kids. Do they have strict laws over there with how many shows a kid can do per year? Here they cast 8 kids. Annie,6 orphans, and 1 swing. They do 8 shows a week and the only time the swing performs if someone is ill, on vacation etc. On Broadway Allison Smith was Annie for almost 3 years and did over 1000 shows. One of the orphans Jeannie Babo was in the show 4'1/2 years. Some of the shows on Broadway are double cast but not all of them.