I have talked about this a couple of times on my blog. I have talked about the importance of the understudies and mentioned who mine were. I thought I would dedicate this one to just those understudies I have seen who were outstanding. That means some of my understudies will be left off.
Lisa Karlin: Leading Player
I saw her in May 2015 when I saw Pippin as a date with mom. The unique thing about her is that when I saw her is that I was exploring the Leading Player for the first time. Everything I know about the Leading Player comes from only one portrayal. In “Magic to Do”, she was very playful, but I still could detect a small hint of evil so it was very obvious she was the antagonist of the piece. Then “Glory” hit and she decided to change up her voice to be much darker. However, each time she was around Pippin, she was very playful to hide the fact that she was leading him on the wrong path. She was quite manipulative, playful, crafty, and dark. I was so intrigued by her that she ended up being the true standout of the evening.
Adam Bayjou: Jean Valjean
I could not believe I had an understudy for Valjean in the West End. I was kind of nervous, but the moment he opened his mouth, I could not detect he was an understudy. The entire time he was on stage, I never knew he was an understudy. He felt like he was the main Valjean. I truly saw his transformation on stage. I am so glad he was my West End Valjean. To get an understudy and not realize they are an understudy: that is true talent right there.
Below: Picture of me at Stage Door with Adam Bayjou
Mary Kate Morrissey: Elphaba
She was not a understudy, but a standby. Standby are basically similar to understudies, but the difference is they are not in the ensemble every night. Having someone cover Elphaba makes me almost a bit more nervous than having someone cover Valjean. That is only because Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. She embodied Elphaba perfectly- in act I her voice was innocent and young, but starting at “Defying Gravity”, she changed Elphaba’s voice to be more mature. She brought out all the emotions I previously saw in Elphaba, and brought out some new ones as well. I had to approach “I’m Not That Girl” fresh- the past times I had seen Wicked, it was a sad song, but this time, I came in knowing it was heartbreaking, so my actress had to make me feel more than sadness in that song. She made me find some kind of appreciation in a song I don’t like- “No Good Deed”- I felt the energy, and she made me feel emotions in the songs for the first time ever. Basically she embodied perfectly- what made her outstanding performance even better is that she was paired with an outstanding Glinda and an excellent Fiyero.
She is my favorite Elphaba.
I thought it was a good idea to just talk about outstanding understudies. It shows the TALENT that understudies are capable. Look at the talent all three of these actors and actresses showed me. No way was I able to tell they were understudies, and that one was a standby. For two of them, I was exploring the character again, and the other I was exploring for the very first time. Each time you hear you have a standby or understudy, realized they have the same talent as everyone else.