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The Five: Theater

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5. Backup at Tiffany’s: Meet Emilia Clarke’s Plan B
Elisabeth Anthony Gray on being the lead’s understudy.
By Jennifer Vineyard


From left, The Lead: Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones; The Understudy: Elisabeth Anthony Gray   

Are you worried that the crowd would be disappointed if you ever end up fulfilling your duties?
I don’t know! [Laughs.] I mean, sometimes when they announce it’s an understudy, you hear the audience groan in misery. But Holly Golightly really lends itself to winning people over, as a character. But I made Emilia swear a pinkie blood oath that she is going to go on every night.

Well, she might have Game of Thrones promotional duties—but audience members will be eager to see the Khaleesi.
What are they going to do if they’re upset, shoot us with a bow and arrow?

Since people will be comparing Emilia to Audrey Hepburn, does that mean they’ll compare you to both?
Well, I don’t look like Emilia Clarke—she’s five-two; I’m five-nine—so there’s that. I can do an Audrey impression: “Dahling, I lost the goddamn key!” But that’s not the role. Emilia has her own take on Holly—especially when it comes to the bathtub scene.

You also have a mockumentary web series launching called Understudies.
I play a buffoon version of myself, in the tradition of Ricky Gervais’s Extras. It’s a day in the life of an understudy who refuses to do musical theater because of her mommy issues, and she’s doing a vampire parody of a successful Broadway show. Maybe Emilia will do a cameo. (In previews March 4; opening March 20.)


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