Exploring Oz: Vocabulary

It was brought to my attention a couple of days ago that a lot of people, particularly newcomers to the world of theatre may not understand some of the terms that we use on this site and in the “Wicked” world in general. So this morning, I have compiled a list of terms that might be helpful. If anyone has any other suggestions for terms to add, please feel free to comment or email me (address located in the right hand column).

standby – a person who sits backstage/stays very close to the theatre during the show and only performs if the lead who they cover is ill or away for some reason. In all productions of “Wicked”, Elphaba has a standby and in several of them, so does Glinda.

understudy/cover – a person who has a part in the show (usually the ensemble) but can step into a leading part if it is needed.

swing – a person who sits backstage unless a member of the ensemble is absent or stepping into a leading role; they usually cover six or seven ensemble roles. Sometimes, swings also cover a principal role.

super swing a swing who floats between the four US productions of “Wicked”, filling in as needed. One current example would be Brenda Hamilton.

phoning in – when an actor/actress does not seem as if they are actually putting forth an effort when playing a part; commonly occurs when someone has been in a role for a very long time.

lift call – a call to practice the parts of the show where characters lift other characters while dancing (“Dancing Through Life” in “Wicked”). This is very important because if an understudy/swing is being lifted and has not practiced with the person who is lifting them, injury could easily occur.

places call – exactly what the name says; a call for actors, actresses, and crew to go to the position where they start an act.

sit-down – an open-ended production of the show in a city; examples have been Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco currently. New York’s production technically would be but is not usually referred to as such.

cherry picker – in the world of “Wicked”, this is the machine that takes Elphaba into the air in “Defying Gravity”.

stage door – to fans of “Wicked”, may be used as a noun or verb. As a noun, it is the place where actors and actresses enter and leave the building and greet fans after the show. As a verb, it is used to describe visiting the door.

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2 Responses to Exploring Oz: Vocabulary

  1. sparklegem says:

    Thanks! Most of these are familiar to me now, but only because I've asked a lot of questions on the WoO forum!

  2. Val says:

    You forgot about the onstage swings. Those videos that the stage manager did for BWW talks about them.

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