Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stars in the making

I found an interesting list on BroadwayUnderstudies.com of some of this year's Tony nominees and the parts that they once understudied. It would have been great to see some of these performers in the roles that gave them their start on Broadway.

It's a nice reminder that the actor or actress whose name you find printed on a little slip of paper tucked inside your Playbill may someday be a star. Here's the list:

05.13.08: Congratulations to former understudies Olga Merediz (u/s LES MISERABLES, currently IN THE HEIGHTS), Robin De Jesus (u/s RENT, currently IN THE HEIGHTS), Laura Benanti (u/s SOUND OF MUSIC, currently GYPSY), Kelli O'Hara (u/s FOLLIES, JEKYLL & HYDE, currently SOUTH PACIFIC), Kerry Butler (u/s BLOOD BROTHERS, currently XANADU), Danny Burstein (u/s A CLASS ACT, currently SOUTH PACIFIC), Rondi Reed (u/s THE GRAPES OF WRATH, currently AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY), David Pittu (u/s THE TENTH MAN, recently IS HE DEAD) and Faith Prince (u/s JEROME ROBBINS' BROADWAY, currently A CATERED AFFAIR), all of whom were nominated for Tony Awards!

And here's a list of more Tony nominees and winners from previous years, along with the roles that they understudied.

One of my best Broadway experiences was seeing The Color Purple with understudy Saycon Sengbloh. She may not have been the best-known actress to play the part or received the most acclaim, but to me, she'll always be Celie. I'm hoping she gets a starring role someday. And I do have that slip of paper with her name on it.

7 comments:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Wow. I had no idea. Pretty amazing stuff.

And I second your hopes that Sengbloh will someday join their ranks.

SarahB said...

The ONLY understudy I've ever seen go on in a musical was Kenita R. Miller in the Color Purple. LaChanze who?

Vance said...

Neat site! I LOVE looking for the next big thing. I tend to do that in movies, TV and now theatre.

(I think I might post a new crushworthy post on some of the new Broadway boys that I think we will need to watch for in the future!)

Also, there's a few times when I HOPE the understudy goes on. (Like Jeremy Kushnier who understudied Roger in Toronto's Rent, and later took the lead in Footloose and now in Jersey Boys National Tour. He was FAR superior to the original CDN Roger so it's nice to see him do well and get noticed).

Esther said...

Sarah,
I definitely agree with you about The Color Purple. Fantasia who? I just thought it was a beautiful, compelling story that didn't need a "star." I mean, I can't believe that I would have enjoyed it any more if Fantasia had performed that evening.

Esther said...

Vance,
I'll be looking forward to your post on the new Broadway "boys" to watch! And yeah, I think people hear "understudy" and think of someone not quite ready for primetime. But as our experiences show, that's not the case at all! There are just so many talented performers waiting for a chance.

Esther said...

Steve,
I just thought it was pretty interesting to see where everyone got their start. I'd love to have the experience of saying "I saw that person when ..."

tonywatcher said...

I am so glad Kerry was nominated! Thanks for posting all the noms!