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Miss Saigon Journey : Life of a Cover/Understudy

“You have to be ready even if they think that you’re not ready” -my University professor (Mary Patrice Pacis) told me this.

Photo taken before the last Matinee show

Miss Saigon UK and International Tour 2017-2019

Cologne, Germany

The acceptance email from the Cameron Mackintosh team said “Cover Kim”. I didn’t exactly know what that meant. I was not briefed in College what that meant. Apparently, that was the same as an "Understudy. "

I will start with my first time going on as Kim. It was on a Thursday afternoon that I was told by our director, Jean Pierre Van Der Spuy, that I would need to play the role in 2 days. Our main Kim got ill and that the Alternate Kim wouldn’t be able to do both shows on that weekend (we usually do two shows on a Saturday in the UK).

I spent half of Thursday and the whole of Friday rehearsing. I have never had a “cover run” before (Cover runs are rehearsals of the whole show with the "covers" playing the Principal roles). I have only rehearsed some of the songs with the Musical Director. At first I thought that it was so impossible for me to memorise all of those songs and blockings. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed. Thankfully I had lots of help from our resident director(Tom O’brien, who became my “Chris” for my rehearsals) assistant dance captain(Eloisa Tan, who also became Chris, Thuy and Engineer) and our Musical Supervisor (Alfonso Casado Trigo who played the piano).

That was Birmingham so the theatre was full. It was sold out.

EXCITEMENT and ANXIETY- a combination of what I felt during that time. I thought, “this is my time to show them why they picked me for this role”

I’m going to be honest. One might think that I’m a bit cocky but I really felt that I did a good job. There were a lot of (funny) mistakes about my performance. Some of which I cannot really divulge. I will tell you one though, I didn’t know which way the door opens in the “Hotel scene”. So right after singing my guts out at Ellen, there was an awkward 2 seconds of me trying to figure out how to get out of the hotel. Other than that, I’m proud of my Kim debut.

But what did I learn from that first performance? That there’s so much room for improvement. I realised that I lacked acting techniques. I guess that’s normal for a first timer. I mean, how could I possibly do a marvelous job in my acting if I’m constantly thinking about “blockings” and “lyrics”? So I learned from my co-actors. I asked for advice.

There was a time when I struggled to fight my stage fright from the beginning of the show. One of my friends from the company told me, "You are Kim once you wear that costume. You are not Ayn." I knew that, but it's hard to remind myself when I'm too busy overthinking. That was my most important mantra.

There were so many pros of being a Cover. I got to feel that I was so good to be able to do two tracks(ensemble and lead). It made me feel so reliable and I’m proud of that. Another thing was, I didn't feel too pressured to prove myself because everyone knew it's a hard job. So without feeling that pressure, one can actually relax and do the job better.

There were con's as well, and heaven knows how much stress I went through. A big one was the feeling of always wanting to do more (for myself and for the show), but I never got enough time to really master the show. I wanted to learn more. I would start the show , make some mistakes, plan to make it better next time but it's sad because I wouldn't know when I'll be able to do that.

Sooha Kim, Aynrand Ferrer, Joreen Bautista

Another thing is the comparisons. I didn't like being compared to other Kims because I would start to doubt myself somehow.

And there's this thing when I don’t like realising that other people wouldn’t know who I am. There was one instance that someone overheard two ladies say “Oh that was X “ BUT MY NAME IS AYNRAND FERRER. Some people wouldn’t know about “covers” and “swings”. I got to accept this because that's just the reality. I was there to maintain that role, to BE that character.

Anyway, enough with the drama. HAHA!

Of course, another good thing about it was that I got to work so much more with the other actors. In my opinion, it's better to start as a part of the ensemble.

First Cover Run

(Left to Right) Emily Beth Harrington, Barnaby Hughes, Na-Young Jeon (Gigi after Marsha Songcome), Aynrand Ferrer, Vinny Coyle, Alistair So, Christian Rey Marbella

Birmingham Hippodrome, 2017

One of my first bows as Kim

Another thing...

I found it fun and refreshing whenever I worked with these people. They gave me a lot of advice as well which I'm still so grateful for.

Lauren, Jo and I preparing for the final scene

Tara doing my mic prep

(And many more people behind this. I only wish I had photos with them too :( )

Towards the end, I loved every single thing about being a cover. I liked the thrill of not knowing when you’ll suddenly go on as the lead, but I loved it more when I knew I’ll be doing it for a few days.

'til the next show!


Whenever that will be. :)

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1 Comment

anna argosino
anna argosino
Jan 25, 2021

Such a beautiful story and what a journey it has been 🥰

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