Swing

Take over any role in a musical when a cast member is absent.

What does a Swing do?

Though the term “Swing” might make you think of a beloved piece of playground equipment, it’s also a musical theater term. A Swing is like the ultimate Understudy. In this job, you learn the dance moves and songs of all ensemble cast members, and can slide into any spot at a moment’s notice.

In regular theater, if a Stage Actor will be out for the night, the cast usually knows ahead of time. As a Swing, though, you can literally be put on stage in the middle of a performance. You take over when a regularly scheduled ensemble member can’t dance or sing, whether that’s due to an injury, illness, or unforeseen emergency that calls them away just hours before the show starts. You also act as the Understudy to the Understudy, which means if they get called up to play the lead, you need to take over their position in the ensemble.

Learning all the dance moves for just one part is difficult enough, but as a Swing, you need to know the steps of everyone in the ensemble. One night might see you dancing on the left side of the stage with one partner, while the next might have you filling in for someone in the back with a totally different partner and stage entrance.

Adding to the difficulty of this job is the fact that there’s no continuity. You could perform one number, and then months might go by before you need to sing those lyrics and perform those dance steps again.