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Converted To A Swing

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#1 Doogie Hoser

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 10:51 PM

If you had a (minor) part in a musical, but a named character who was part of the plot, and you were turned into a swing... is that a good thing or a bad thing?

#2 wickedlover


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Posted 28 May 2012 - 11:31 PM

I dont see how it could be a bad thing...as a swing the actor would be assigned to covering a few ensemble roles throughout the show, making every show they perform different, rather than just the one role over and over again.

A good example is Damien Poole in 'Shrek', he was previously the 'Mad Hatter/ensemble' but after the cast change he became a swing and now covers 'The Three Pigs', 'Peter Pan' and even has his own unique fairytale costume for when he has to cover a minor fairy.tale creature.

A swings job is also one of the hardest in the cast because they have to learn so many parts compared to the rest of the company...so it gives the actor more experience, which is always a good thing.
[2004 ]   Mary Poppins - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
[2008] The Sound of Music - Wicked
[2009] Oliver! - Billy Elliot - Grease - Wicked - Avenue Q - Sister Act - Wicked - The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
[2010]     Oliver! - Sister Act - The Lion King - Wicked - Sister Act
[2011]     Legally Blonde - Jersey Boys - Shrek the Musical - Wicked - The Wizard of Oz - Shrek the Musical - Jersey Boys - Ghost the Musical - The Wizard of Oz - Shrek the Musical
[2012] Ghost the Musical - The Wizard of Oz - Matilda the Musical - Shrek the Musical - Wicked - Ghost the Musical - The Lion King - Les Miserables - Jest End - Shrek the Musical - Wicked - Wicked - The Woman in Black - Matilda the Musical
[2013]     The Bodyguard - Wicked - Matilda the Musical - We Will Rock You - The Woman in Black - Wicked - The Book of Mormon - Les Miserables - Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - Billy Elliot - The Bodyguard - Wicked - Wicked
[2014] The Bodyguard - The Book of Mormon - Wicked - Matilda the Musical - Blithe Spirit - We Will Rock You - Wicked - Miss Saigon - Les Miserables - An Evening With Julie Andrews - Let The Right One In - The Bodyguard

[2004] Joseph (UK Tour)
[2007] Cats (UK Tour)
[2009] Evita (UK Tour x2) - Fame (UK Tour) - Chicago (UK Tour)
[2010] The Sound of Music (UK Tour x3)
[2011] Spamalot (UK Tour) - Avenue Q (UK Tour x2) - Dancing Shoes: The George Best Story - Joseph (UK Tour)
[2012] The King and I (UK Tour) - Grease (UK Tour) - Blood Brothers (UK Tour) - Legally Blonde (UK Tour x2) -   The Mousetrap (UK Tour) - Jesus Christ Superstar (Arena Tour) - Chicago (UK Tour) - One Man, Two Guvnors (UK Tour)
[2013] Soul Sister (UK Tour) - High Society (UK Tour) - Hairspray (UK Tour) - We Will Rock You (10th Anniversary Arena Tour) - 9 to 5 (UK Tour) - Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (UK Tour) - Evita (UK Tour x3) - Thriller Live (UK Tour) - Joseph (UK Tour) - Cats (UK Tour x2)
[2014] Singin' In The Rain (UK Tour) - Birdsong (UK Tour) - The Mousetrap (UK Tour) - Shrek the Musical (UK Tour) - One Man, Two Guvnors (UK Tour)

[2011] Mamma Mia (Int Tour) - Ghost the Musical (World Premier)
[2012] The Lion King (UK Tour)
[2013] Ghost the Musical (UK Tour) - Wicked (UK Tour x2)

[2011] Sister Act (UK Tour)
[2012] The Phantom of the Opera (UK Tour)
[2013] Wicked (UK Tour)

#3 DonnieSmith


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Posted 29 May 2012 - 01:25 PM

On the whole, that would be considered a bad thing - tantamount to a demotion.  Occasionally actors will see the opportunity, but moving from a named role (what you're describing sounds like what's usually described as Featured Ensemble) to an understudy role is not something most actors would be happy about - though there are individuals that would prefer it.  Swings, unfairly on the whole, don't command the respect here that they do in NY.

#4 CaityGlinda


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Posted 30 May 2012 - 07:07 AM

I have heard that Swings get paid more than normal Ensemble members. I'm not sure if that's true, but it's understandable if it is.
[West End] Wicked x7 . The Phantom Of The Opera x4 . Les Miserables x4 . Oliver! x3 .The Lion King x2 . We Will Rock You x2 . Sister Act x2 . Blood Brothers x2 . Hair x2 . War Horse x2 . Love Never Dies . Jersey Boys . Avenue Q . Hairspray . The 39 Steps . Legally Blonde . Mamma Mia! . Deathtrap . The Wizard of Oz . Ghost the Musical . Billy Elliot . Singin' In The Rain . Top Hat . Sweeney Todd . Matilda . Loserville .
[Broadway]  Next to Normal . Wicked . Anything Goes . End of the Rainbow .
[UK Tour]  West Side Story (Salford) . Joseph (Sheffield) . Oklahoma! (Sheffield) . Blood Brothers (Sheffield) . Avenue Q (Sheffield) . Jekyll and Hyde (Sheffield) . Tell Me On A Sunday (Sheffield) . Journey's End (Sheffield) . The Phantom Of The Opera (Leeds) .
[Regional] Hamlet (Sheffield Crucible) . Othello (Sheffield Crucible) . Company (Sheffield Crucible) . My Fair Lady (Sheffield Crucible) . Oliver (Sheffield Crucible)

#5 Laughingmonsta


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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:57 AM

Swings do get better pay
This is my street, I smile at the faces I've known all my life, They regard me with pride.

#6 DonnieSmith


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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:10 PM

No they don't.  Not really.  Certainly not as a rule and certainly not since the new equity pay deal.  I believe that they are well paid in NY, where they are much more highly valued.

#7 Gustave



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Posted 04 June 2012 - 01:27 PM

View PostDonnieSmith, on 30 May 2012 - 12:10 PM, said:

No they don't.  Not really.  Certainly not as a rule and certainly not since the new equity pay deal.  I believe that they are well paid in NY, where they are much more highly valued.

Swings recieve an extra payment on top of their ensemble wage.

See below.

Key elements of Equity’s new agreement with the Society of London Theatre

Year 1 of a four year deal – Performer/Assistant Stage Manager

Category A Theatres (1100 seats+) £550 a week minimum
Category B Theatres (800-1099 seats)      £500 a week minimum
Category C Theatres (799 seats and below)    £450 a week minimum   

Year 2 + RPI (inflation)
Year 3 + RPI
Year 4 + RPI

Ø   Theatre size to be established by managers based on seating sold.

Ø   The above rates are for eight performances a week.

Ø   A twice nightly rate would be maintained.


Ø   At time of contract if the manager selects to include Sundays any six working days out of seven can be nominated. (e.g. Monday off or Tuesday or Wednesday etc.)

Ø   If the manager seeks to add Sunday during a run Monday must be the day off

An additional payment of £50 will be added to all salaries for work on Sunday.  It will rise in line with inflation each year.

New Minimum Includes

The new minimum rates of pay will include current payments for:

v   Push and Pull     

v   Flying

v   One non-leading/sub principle understudy responsibility payment

v   Three featured ensemble roles on the following definition:  

A featured ensemble role, which is undertaken by a member of the ensemble, may appear in a number of different scenes but their role is smaller than a leading or non-leading role and may incorporate in such scenes part of a song, a short solo dance section or a few lines of speech.  

New Minimum Rates for Understudy Responsibility/Performance and Swing Payments

Leading    £20 minimum responsibility payment per role
    £20 minimum performance payment per role
Non-leading £13 minimum responsibility per role (second role onwards)
    £13 minimum performance payment per role
Swings          £45 minimum per week (inclusive of all ensemble work)

The current swing staffing ratio would be removed.

Walking Understudy

One leading or two non-leading roles as part of the minimum salary.  Two performance payments included in the minimum.  

Stage Management

DSM    + £50 differential above ASM in category A + B
SM   + £100 differential above ASM in category A + B
DSM    + £60 differential above ASM 1st year only category C
SM    + £110 differential above ASM 1st year only category C


No payment for current uses of EPK and for the extended ‘promotional’ use such as use on mobile digital media, two showings of a ‘making of’ documentary, etc

Ø   Usage for promotional use only on extended basis

Ø   Additional payments for second and subsequent usage and commercial use.

SOLT have removed “game shows”, the word “live” from outdoor events; put a five year limit on use as a commercial and the following for o/s promoting purposes: Should a Manager use EPK footage for subsequent productions worldwide over and above the 4 weeks specified above, the manager will pay the Artists £13.50 per calendar month as long as the said EPK is for worldwide use.  

Various Ceiling Salaries in the Agreement

Ceiling salaries in the agreement will be frozen for four years.

New Illness and Injury Clause
Four week entitlement (32 performances) per year. Incapacity pay would be capped at twice the minimum. For illness or injury in the show the annual entitlement would be full pay (subject to the cap). For any other injury pay would be at 50% of salary. Only four single days of incapacity would be paid at the above rate, after that there would be no pay for single days off but there would be for more than a single day. Any incapacity paid would be paid at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay. There would be pro-rating of entitlement rounded up to the next 13 week period.

Bank Holidays and Additional Performances
To be paid at additional single time rather than 1/8th of salary

Hours of Work
45 for rehearsal week for performers.  Current payment arrangements with ceiling salary of £520 frozen until minimums went past £520 then removed.

40 performance week for performers to include all working time with no restrictions on rehearsal hours up to the 40 (current six hour ceiling lifted).  

42 per week for stage management.

#8 DonnieSmith


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Posted 06 June 2012 - 01:06 PM

Interesting.  In practical terms I wonder how often this is the case - in terms of swings being paid more - where rates are pegged to a tiered wage structure that isn't based on the Equity minimum (albeit it, only slightly above it).

#9 Gustave



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Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:36 PM

This is the case in EVERY West End Show.

This is our current pay structure.
These are the minimums and are the base rate from which we work.

Most Producers currently dont pay above minimum rates but they are just that - 'minimum' rates and are therefor open to negotiation.

These are the facts.

#10 DonnieSmith


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Posted 06 June 2012 - 03:18 PM

No.  They are not facts.  They are anecdotal testimony.  

Obviously the Equity paydeal underpins payrates, but in reality most casts are paid on a tiered structure that can vary from the minimum, and so to say that swings are always paid more is not necessarily correct.

Thanks for taking the trouble to put the word "every" in capitals lest you weren't clear in your response.  I don't think you fully understood the qualified point I was making, but at least you were emphatic.

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