VIDEO: Meet Two of the Unsung Heroes of INTO THE WOODS, Understudies Jason Forbach & Mary Kate Moore

Into the Woods is running on Broadway at the St. James Theatre.

By: Aug. 11, 2022
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It takes more than just wishes to keep a Broadway show running. It's no secret that Broadway's understudies, standbys and swings have been the superheroes of the past season. Perhaps more than ever before, they've answered the call to fill in at a moment's notice for some of Broadway's biggest roles. Two of these heroes are Jason Forbach and Mary Kate Moore, who both understudy multiple roles in the hit Broadway revival of Into the Woods.

Moore understudies The Baker's Wife (Sara Bareilles), Cinderella (Phillipa Soo), Little Red Riding Hood (Julia Lester) and Florinda (Brooke Ishibashi), while Forbach understudies The Baker (Brian d'Arcy James), Cinderella's Prince/Wolf (Gavin Creel), Rapunzel's Prince (Joshua Henry) and Narrator/Mysterious Man (David Patrick Kelly).

How do they do it?

Forbach got the call to go on for The Baker the day before the show opened. "I had a mild panic attack! But you immediately focus and figure out what you need to do. We came into the theatre as soon as we could and ran some things that we hadn't been able to run because we hadn't really had the opportunity to have much rehearsal," he explained to BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge. "It was nerve-racking... and I think I blacked out and barely remember most of it... but it happened!"

While both cover four roles now, Moore admitted their work was even more challenging before the Broadway transfer. "[When the show was] at City Center, we were the only standbys. We were trying to keep eyes on everyone, which is a lot for one little brain! But we were there for each other," she explained. "It was multiple scores, multiple scripts, many different colored pencils, lots of highlighters... it's your own organizational filing system. And then you do as much homework as you feel you need to do outside of that rehearsal room."

The team has grown, however, as has the support backstage. "We're a team of nine understudies backstage," said Forbach. "We're all ready and waiting. They are all incredibly talented. We all helped each other and rehearsed one another. We have friends in the wings helping to guide us. It really is a team effort."

While they await their next moment in the spotlight, they are appreciating the audience's reactions from the wings. "I think that people love the meeting of polar ideals. The first act you spend in a fairytale. The second act is about the real life consequences," said Moore. "That is such a human thing. We all have dreams. We all have wishes. Oftentimes those things will come true, and we learn the reality- that there's often strings attached. It's like the human condition onstage."

Watch below as both chat more with Richard Ridge as they get ready for a performance at the St. James Theatre!