This week has seen some remarkable things happen on Broadway. With constant COVID cases being detected within performing companies, swings and understudies have been putting the pedal to the metal and proving just what valuable assets they are to a show.
Just a few days ago, the Broadway production of Come From Away had 8 of its 12 principal roles filled by covers – 5 standbys, 2 past cast members returning, and a touring cast member making their Broadway debut.
The latter is Australia’s own Marika Aubrey, known down under for originating Mrs Wormwood in the national tour of Matilda. Since 2018, she has been performing as pilot Beverley Bass in the First National U.S. tour of Come From Away. Marika was spending some time in NYC as a break from the touring production, and was called in to not only fill in as Bev, but to make her Broadway debut.
Marika said to AussieTheatre:
I’m honoured to be of service to this show, this story, this tremendous Broadway team. Hoping the regular cast get better soon!
Other major Broadway productions have also been filling roles with covers, including leading roles in both Wicked and the revival of The Music Man.
These amazing achievements come after Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin issued an apology for her comments implying shows were being cancelled and closed as a result of Broadway swings and understudies’ inexperience.
This week and these events just further highlight the pivotal role that swings, standbys, and understudies play in the world of theatre, and how crucial it is that they are protected and trained into their tracks. These performers are incredibly versatile and flexible, often jumping into a track with mere hours’ notice, sometimes having never performed it before.