My Outstanding Understudies I Have Seen

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 transforming 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

IMG_0449

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 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.

Advertisements

What is Fascinating About the Actors and Actresses We get in Musicals

I think one of the most powerful things about musicals belong to the actors and actresses. They shape our views of the characters and our views of the musical itself. If we are seeing a show a second or third or even fourth time, we find something new. Our first actor or actress in a role gives us our first impression of a character. Every audience member sees the same actor very differently. I might absolutely love a particular actor or actress, but the audience member next to me might not. There is nothing wrong with that: we just are interpreting it differently.

The actors and actresses we end up with is based on many factors: when we see the musical, where we are seeing it, the country we live in, the musicals we want to see and the time plus whether or not we get an understudy. Must If you get an understudy, RESPECT them no matter what. Our first impression of a character is usually important. If we see a musical more than once, we end up combining actor’s portrayals: that is the case for Les Mis and Wicked characters. I have seen those musicals more than once. Wicked was seen four times on stage. Les Mis, I watched the film, the 25th concert, and three stage casts. So my first impression of the characters of Les Mis belonged to the film. There is usually a certain actor or actress that makes us fall in love with a character.

Here are some actors and actresses that have made a lasting impact on me: movies and stage

Lisa Karlin- She was my Leading Player. She was the standout when I saw Pippin. I loved the way she presented herself. Like in “Magic to Do”, she was very playful, but I could detect a small amount hint of “evil”, Then in songs like “Glory”, she got rid of the playfulness and showed her craftiness and darkness more. She was playful around Pippin to make it seem that he could trust her. She played her as very crafty, manipulative, dark, sneaky, and playful. She even can trick the audience into believing that she was leading Pippin on the right path.

Joey Barreiro- He was my first Jack. I have seen two fantastic Jacks after him. But still to this day, Joey is still my favorite Jack. I fell in love with Jack all because of Joey. He had this incredible dreamy, romantic, and innocent nature. He showed Jack’s inner conflict perfectly and was able to act as a leader.

7cc30141cb08bc55a973c76396b4e6c6

Samantha Barks- she was my first Eponine. She was the reason why I developed a beautiful bond with Eponine in the first place. She is such a very talented Eponine. She perfectly showed how alone Eponine is. She was very believable as that girl. If it was not for her, I do not know if I would have fallen in love with Eponine. To this day, still is my favorite Eponine.

Unknown

Mary Kate Morrissey- True, I fell in love with Elphaba before her, but she is the Elphaba I remember the most. I saw her as standby on tour in 2016. She embodied Elphaba perfectly. She was able to bring something new to the role. She understood the role perfectly. She made me appreciate a song I always hated, and for once felt emotions in “No Good Deed”. She even altered her voice: in act I, her voice sounded innocent, but in act II, her voice was mature.

Amanda Jane Copper- She was in the same cast as Mary Kate Morrissey. you NEVER can have a brilliant Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda was an excellent Glinda, which meant “For Good” was perfectly. Her Glinda kept on making me laugh in all of Glinda’s funny lines and she perfectly expressed Glinda’s pain in act II.

Ashley Parker Angel- I loved what he did to the role. He acted the lion cub scene as if he had a crush on Elphaba, but deep down does not seem to know it. So act I had some foreshadowing going on. I wanted to get to the bottom of this love triangle plot twist. He already decided to make his chemistry weaker with Glinda then with Elphaba.

54776664af901a1471bc615d59169027

Jeremy Secomb- I saw him in the West End. I struggle with Javert so much. Jeremy is the only Javert I have seen that I have felt sympathy for, and that is why he had a lasting impact on me.

a92200937c97fe8c7d2bc4557173ae99

Joshua Grosso- I already made this clear. He became my favorite Marius. What happens when your favorite character in the Les Mis love triangle is Eponine, but your strongest actor is Marius? That is what happened in November of last year. He was charming and awkward. He treated falling in love with Cosette like “I’m in love, but what to do with it”. At the barricades, people might think he isn’t showing enough emotion during “A Little Fall of Rain”, but it works. He focused more on comforting Eponine. Wait till the end- he almost acted a bit stunned- he did not say a word until about 5-10 seconds- then said “grow” and the way he said it hurt. So he still was able to show his hurt. His “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was very heartbreaking. So he embodied Marius perfectly and changed my perception of him.

He made Marius nearly a core favorite Les Mis character. I saw something in his Marius that made him shine.

94092-18

I could have talked about all actors and actresses that have had a lasting impact on me, but the list could have taken too long.

Standouts in Musicals

I never really talked about this. Standouts do exist whenever you see a musical. But what exactly makes certain actors standout more than others. That is very very hard to explain. It always has something to do with their performance: they are the ones that go above and beyond with their performance. They add something unique to their portrayal. Below I will mention some of my standouts in some of the musicals I have recently seen.

Minor and Major Spoilers:

Les Mis ( Tour 2017): Nick Cartell, Matt Shingledecker, Joshua Grosso

Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean)- I know he was one of the standouts, but that is hard to describe. I could tell he was throughout his portrayal. I had seen him previously in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera. So I loved seeing him go from ensemble to lead. Part of why he stood out is his breathtaking and soulful performance of “Bring Him Home”. It was strong enough, but quiet enough for what the song required. It truly sounded like a prayer.

images

Matt Shingledecker (Enjolrass)- Honestly don’t really know why he was a standout at all. But I could just tell he was.

Unknown

Joshua Grosso (Marius)- I like to describe his Marius as charming and awkward. I was extremely surprised of how much he stood out. I am always expecting Eponine to be the strongest actor in the love triangle, but in this situation, Joshua was the strongest actor in the love triangle. Much more my focus ended up being on Marius instead of Eponine. That sounds a bit odd in a way considering the fact that of all the characters in the love triangle, Eponine is my favorite character. But it did make me view the love triangle from a different perspective. It is important for me to get to know all three characters.

He embodied Marius perfectly while still bringing something new. I never knew Marius was awkward until Joshua. The awkwardness made me learn to love Marius even more. At “A Heart Full of Love”, he was like “I’m in love, but what on earth do I do with it”. It was really effective. As I was watching “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused much more on comforting Eponine than showing how heartbroken he was. He showed his heartbreak at the end:  he actually acted stunned: he could not finish the song at first: he waited about 5-10 seconds: that is what I mean by stunned and then the way he said “grow” was hard for me to listen to. He really brought out all of his trauma and heartbreak during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Because of what Joshua was able to do with Marius, he became my favorite Marius.

94092-18

Wicked (Tour 2016): Mary Kate Morrissey, Amanda Jane Copper, Ashley Parker Angel

About Wicked, I focus so much on Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero that I forget that the others so those three actors always easily standout from the others.

Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba): She was an excellent Elphaba. You never would suspect she was a standby. She embodied everything about Elphaba. She made appreciate a song I always hated and emotions in that song finally stuck. She was able to change her voice to match Elphaba’s. From a more innocent voice in most of act I to a more mature voice starting at “Defying Gravity”.

Amanda Jane Copper (Glinda): Here’s my rule about Elphaba and Glinda: you can’t have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda Jane Copper was just hilarious and every funny line of Glinda’s I laughed at. You could feel Glinda’s pain act II. You got to “For Good”, and I teared up at their very emotional song.

Amandajanecooperwicked

Ashley Parker Angel (Fiyero): I was determined to get to the bottom of him this time around so I dug deeper. So the Lion Cub scene hit. He played that scene as if he has a crush on Elphaba, but doesn’t know it. I love how he played Fiyero in that way. He already showed weaker chemistry with Glinda and stronger chemistry with Elphaba foreshadowing the unrequited love shift in act II.

8ceba15530a6a792d19b7920e6b6e480

Pippin (Tour 2015): Lisa Karlin

Lisa Karlin (Leading Player) -I was much more intrigued by the Leading Player’s portrayal than Pippin. She was able to be playful with a tad bit of evil in “Magic to Do”. Around Pippin, she was able to hide her darkness so that Pippin could trust her. So she was very crafty and very manipulative. In songs such as “Glory”, she was so much more dark and evil that you can tell that she was the antagonist of the musical. There is something very intriguing about the character. I may have been new to the show at time, but everyone I know about the character comes from just one actress. Usually I don’t know all of this information from just one actor or actress. This actress seemed to spend a lot of time getting to know her character and make it her own. She also tricked the audience.

Contribution Understudies Put to Theatre

I talked about this before, but I feel like understudies keep on being under appreciated. Without them, so many shows would be cancelled. You have to know how to truly respect them and what they are able to bring to their roles. From the years 2014-2017, I have had a lot of understudies and throughout those years, I have truly learned to really respect them. Without them, you know how much trouble theatre would be in? They would be in a lot. Below I will put a list of mine and if I remember anything about them, I will talk about them.

Possible Spoilers:

1. Grace Morgan (Christine)- I don’t fully remember her when I saw Phantom of the Opera. However, I remember getting choked up by this cast. I remember being drawn to Christine so I bet she was really good as Christine.10354149_10203791645890941_4955988638206113711_n

2. Lisa Karlin (Leading Player)- This was my first time seeing Pippin. She was the true standout in this production. Everything I know about the Leading Player was based off of her portrayal. She was able to hide her evilness around Pippin to make it seem like she was someone he can trust and to do that she was very playful around him. She was quite crafty and in “Magic to Do”, I detected a small hint of evil, and then in “Glory”, she was much more dark and evil. Everything I know about this character is Lisa Karlin. Just by one actress, I know so much about one actress: that is impressive.

3. Sam Lips- due to being so intrigued by Lisa Karlin, I don’t remember a clue about Sam.

11350834_10205766151186542_7374983499699817482_n

4. Adam Bayjou- I literally was in the West End, and I was thinking “wait a minute, I am in the West End about to live my dream and I have a understudy for Jean Valjean”. I was a little bit nervous. Here is how I can say how brilliant he was: I forgot I was watching an understudy: think about that: if you forgot you watched an understudy, that is real talent right there. Below is a picture of me with Adam at Stage Door.

IMG_0449

5. Mary Kate Morrissey- When I have an understudy for Elphaba, it can be kind of scary for me because Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. She was actually the standby for Elphaba. Mary Kate embodied everything about Elphaba while bringing something new to the character. She made me appreciate a song I always hated, a song that always seemed emotionless to me: “No Good Deed”. She changed her voice to fit the character: act I: her voice was so much more innocent, but in act II, she changed it to be mature.

IMG_0881

6. Kaitlyn Frank- I did basically forget about her version of Katherine Plumber. I got so into Joey Barreiro as Jack that I did forget about the other acting. I also got mind-blown with the talent into the dancing. However, I recently saw my original Newsies review and it did say she had incredible chemistry with Joey Barreiro, who played Jack Kelly.

13958231_10210190759304777_1214951112279127057_o

7. Talia Simone Robinson- this was a bit of a coincidence. How is it that my 2nd professional cast of Les Mis did I end up with an understudy? I thought that was the craziest thing, but this time instead of Jean Valjean, my understudy was Eponine. Talia wasn’t the strongest actor in the love triangle: it was Marius instead. However Talia had extremely strong moments as Eponine. She did not start out that strong as Eponine, but she eventually was able to embody the role. She was flirty and playful around Marius. As I recall, I think I heard some tears at the end of “On My Own” and during that song, I got some goosebumps. Than during “A Little Fall of Rain”, each time she tried to move, she barely could showing that she was weak and just getting weaker indicting that she was dying.

IMG_1511

So RESPECT the understudies. They have much more talent than you realize. They are able to embody the roles more than you think. Look at all of these understudies. When I saw Lisa, I didn’t even know who the Leading Player was, and Lisa was able to get me so intrigued by that character and usually the first time I discover the antagonist, that usually that doesn’t happen. Then at Mary Kate, she made me appreciate a song I always hated for once. I was able to respect what Talia was able to bring to Eponine even though she didn’t start out that strong; she eventually was able to embody the role. It is not easy to be an understudy: they have to work harder than anybody. You have to be aware how many productions would be cancelled if they didn’t exist. Just appreciate them much more.

Who is Pippin?

Pippin is the protagonist from the musical, Pippin.

Possible Spoilers:

Pippin’s main goal in the musical is to figure out where he belongs, which is his “corner of the sky. He is influenced by the Leading Player, a very crafty and mysterious. What he doesn’t realize is that the Leading Player is trying to lead him down the wrong path. He makes several wrong decisions through the entire musical. He soon falls in love with Catherine. He eventually defies the Leading Player when he figures out that the Leading Player is not someone to trust and realizes that he is meant to lead a simple life with Catherine. Pippin may be flawed and might trust the wrong person, but the Leading Player does not make it obvious that she is manipulating and leading him in the wrong direction.

pippin-1578-v

Who is The Leading Player?

I started with a character from Pippin because Pippin is a musical that is rarely talked about on this blog. The only character I can really analyze from that musical is The Leading Player.

The Leading Player is the antagonist and narrator of Pippin. She opens up the musical. She is very crafty, manipulative. and playful. In “Magic to Do”, she is full of surprise and is quite playful but at the same time there is a tad bit of evil in there. But once it transitions to “Glory”, you get an idea of how dark the Leading Player really is. She knows what she wants to do with Pippin, which is quite dark and evil. Even though she knows what she wants do with Pippin, she does not make it clear to the audience making her quite shady.

She is very playful around Pippin making Pippin believe that he can trust her. That allows him to listen to her so she is able to easily manipulative him. Not only does she it make it not that obvious to Pippin, she also makes it that not clear to the audience. So she tricks both the audience and Pippin.

She is this shady, crafty, dark, and playful character and is so intriguing.. Eventually Pippin eventually goes against the Leading Player’s wishes. The Leading Player is so complex. Everything I know about the Leading Player is based off of Lisa Karlin’s just brilliant performance of the Leading Player: when I saw Pippin May 2015 I was much more intrigued with the Leading Player than Pippin and part of that was because of the portrayal.

tumblr_npbi6gP2M01tiv3oro1_500

College Musicals

What do I mean by college musicals? These are the musicals I fell in love with during my years at college. Some of them come to mind a lot. A good chunk of them are meaningful. I am going to make a list of what musicals they are.

1. Les Mis- this is the most obvious. I fell in love with it in my first year of college and that was in 2012-2013. First saw the movie December 2012 and was confused and shocked due to it being a tragedy and did not what to think of it. So had to give it a second chance until I could fall in love with this musical. By summer, I was obsessed with it. In 2013, I saw my first stage production of it 3x due to being an usher. In 2015, I saw the musical in the West End with my mom with an understudy as Jean Valjean. In 2017, I saw the stage show a 5th time in Greenville with my university with an understudy as Eponine. Les Mis taught me that tragic musicals exist and that I used to be 100% blind to heartbreak in musical. I learned that tragedies are so much more than I once thought.  There are so many wonderful reasons to love Les Mis. All because of Les Mis, I have a passion for musicals.

bring-him-home-6

2. Rent- I fell in love with it Fall 2012 through music alone. I don’t know when it was, but I soon realized the plot. This musical like Les Mis is sad. It took five years till I saw the musical live. Prior, I saw the film of the final broadway cast doing the stage show. But last year really was my first time seeing the stage show. It teaches you how to live life. It teaches you to live in love even in the face of fear and to live in the moment. My favorite couple in Rent is Mimi and Roger. Last year, I was an emotional wreck watching it.

2751E70FA-0434-F48E-30F2C22A4294C263

3. Phantom of the Opera- this musical started to enter my life 2013. My mom told me about Phantom of the Opera, and I automatically requested the song on Pandora. I fell in love with the songs and I wanted to eventually see the stage show. That Christmas I got a ticket in my stocking and so did my mom. In 2014 in May, my mom and I went to Greenville to see Phantom of the Opera. I was spellbound the moment the show began, and in the first act, I did not move until the chandelier fell. I was choked up watching it.

4. Newsies- this is one of the newest musicals of my life. I first heard the songs I think summer 2016, but I only enjoyed them. I first saw the stage show August 2016. Before seeing it, I heard it was Tony Award winning choreography, so I decided to not watch the dance ahead of time. This was the only show I have seen that is all males (well there are a couple females, but not much). I was mind-blown at the dancing: they were flipping, dancing on newspapers, jumping over each other and so many other amazing tricks. The story is so inspiring. The fact that these Newsboys stood up against Pulitzer is incredible. The relationship found between the Newsies is beautiful: they are basically one big family, and the intimate relationship between Jack and Crutchie is special. After seeing it live, I learned to love the songs.  I love how Jack is so protective of his brothers especially of Crutchie. He cannot bear to see his brothers hurt, which eventually leads him to go through an inner conflict.

7cc30141cb08bc55a973c76396b4e6c6

5. Music Man- this was a musical I saw at my university my first semester. Music Man was a musical that started my best year of musicals. I just love how light-hearted it is. It is one of the most light-hearted musicals I ever saw. I love how this con-man (Harold Hill) transformed this town. The romance between Harold Hill and Marian helped bring an emotional element to this show since the musical focuses on positive emotions a lot. So the romance helps bring an emotional element that the show needs.

images

6. Pippin- I don’t when it was, but my dad had me listen to “Corner of the Sky”. The moment I heard the song, I wanted to see Pippin. Then I wanted to see it more after seeing the trailer. It seemed like they were doing a circus version of the show and I wanted to see it even more. Then I heard it was a Stephen Swartz musical and I knew that Pippin would be amazing because after all, he wrote the music to Wicked. I got my chance in 2015 when I went with my mom and we were lucky because when mom got tickets, there was one day left with seats together. This show had the antagonist as narrator and I loved Lisa Karlin’s portrayal of her. In “Magic to Do”, she was very playful with a small hint of evil. But during “Glory”, her voice represented darkness. She was very playful around Pippin to manipulative him in making the wrong decision so Pippin makes a lot of mistakes throughout the musical. The Leading Player is very crafty, dark, playful, and manipulative and I gained all of this from Lisa Karlin’s portrayal. After just one act, I wanted the soundtrack even after not hearing the act II songs.

maxresdefault

7. South Pacific- when I was still a student at community college, there was school cancelled due to snow days. A friend of my parents leant my family and I about six or so musical movie. South Pacific ended up being one of them. The main story is a love story between Emelie and Nellie during World War. It is a very romantic tale. It is my 2nd best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical: the first is Sound of Music. It songs are fun, romantic, and emotional. Like expected with Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there is a 2nd love story, which is between Liat and Joe Cable. It does have an underlying story of racism.

unknown

So here are some of my college musicals.