Best understudy you've ever seen?

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natashalost
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#1
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:14pm

Curious to hear everyone's answers! Sorry if this has been a topic before.

My picks have to be Shoba Narayan as Natasha in Great Comet, Elizabeth Judd as Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton, Donald Webber, Jr. as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton, Erin Clemons as Éponine in Les Misérables and Jeremy Jordan as Tony in West Side Story. 

Also, my mom saw Laura Benanti as Maria in The Sound of Music when she was just an understudy. Went back a few times when she got bumped up to principle. Raves about her performance to this day.

EDIT: Adding more to this list as I see more understudies who give great performances -- Aisha Jackson as Anna in Frozen, Ashley De La Rosa as Regina George in Mean Girls, Tee Boyich as Cady Heron in Mean Girls, Brandon Kalm as Dr. Pomatter in Waitress, 

Updated On: 10/2/18 at 03:14 PM
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leighmiserables
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#2
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:17pm

Jim Stanek as Bruce in Fun Home would probably be my favorite. I thought he was absolutely amazing (and that's coming from someone whose major reason for going in the first place was Michael Cerveris). 

michaelhale
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#3
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:23pm
So jealous you got to see Shoba as Natasha, I loved Denee and feel blessed I got to see her, but I wish I had gotten into the show earlier so I might of have gotten to see some more of the understudies, I've heard so many great things about all of them and especially her!

My picks are Michael Lee Brown in Dear Evan Hansen (saw him during Ben's August vocal rest, right before he got the alternate spot), even now after seeing Ben twice after him, he's my favorite of the two of them in the portrayal of that character (although Ben's voice can't be competed with, tbh) and I adored the Hamilton standbys I got when I went- Jevon Mcferrin as Hamilton and Donald Webber Jr as Lafayette/Jefferson, both had such high energy!
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DottieD'Luscia
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#4
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:23pm

I really enjoyed Darlesia Cearcy's performance as Lottie Gee in Shuffle Along. She was the final Sarah in the original production of Ragtime.

Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
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ethan231h
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#5
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:27pm

I think we've had threads like this before but oh well I'll add my 2 cents in.

I second Jim Stanek in Fun Home, phenomenal!!

Kristen Beth Williams as Catherine in Pippin....played the role much like rachel, but added a little bit of herself into it, really great!

Sabrina Harper as Fastrada in Pippin

Michael Lee Brown as Evan Hansen. a m a z i n g

Maggie Lakis as Kate/lucy in Avenue Q

Kennedy Caughell as both Marya D and Helene in Great Comet...She is someone to look out for!!

Shannon Conley as Yitzack in Hedwig

Gabrielle Ruiz as Nina in In The Heights

Jessica Vosk as Golde in Fiddler

 

 

Updated On: 1/15/18 at 03:27 PM
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natashalost
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#6
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:33pm

ethan231h said: "Kennedy Caughell as both Marya D and Helene in Great Comet...She is someone to look out for!!"

I whole-heartedly agree! I didn't see her as Héléne (still upset I had known in advance when she was going on and didn't see her) but her Marya was TERRIFIC!

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natashalost
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#7
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:41pm

michaelhale said: "So jealous you got to see Shoba as Natasha, I loved Denee and feel blessed I got to see her, but I wish I had gotten into the show earlier so I might of have gotten to see some more of the understudies, I've heard so many great things about all of them and especially her!...I adored the Hamilton standbys I got when I went- Jevon Mcferrin as Hamilton and Donald Webber Jr as Lafayette/Jefferson, both had such high energy!"

Shoba was absolutely phenomenal. I got to see her in the role 3 times, including her final performance where they had to stop the show during "In My House." Every single time she blew me away. I'm even sneaking in a visit to see her in Hamilton when I go visit family in Seattle in March.

I loved Jevon's performance as Hamilton. He's absolutely terrific. He should play the role full time in some production. 

I WISH I could've seen Donald as Lafayette/Jefferson. Crossing my fingers I'll see him in the role soon!

theater_tech
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#8
Posted: 1/15/18 at 3:46pm

Lauren Zakrin as Natasha in Comet.

The first time I saw Comet (0 knowledge of the show), she was on, and I was blown away by her performance. I said to my friend, "SHE'S the understudy??"

I saw Denee when I saw Comet for the second time, but I still prefer Lauren as Natasha. 

Fordham2015
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#9
Posted: 1/15/18 at 4:05pm

Colton Ryan in Dear Evan Hansen

Christina DeCicco in Evita, who was a lot better than Elena Roger IMHO

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Best understudy you've ever seen?#10
Posted: 1/15/18 at 4:06pm

I really enjoyed Olivia Puckett as Alana Beck and not really an understudy, but Donna as Dolly was pretty spectacular.

Some others that I’ve thought of, Joseph Morales as Hamilton, Colby Lewis as Lafayette/Jefferson, and Cassie Okenka as Glinda

??Jack-o-lanterns are just pumpkins who majored in musical theatre??
Updated On: 1/17/18 at 04:06 PM
kmpellicone
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#11
Posted: 1/15/18 at 4:19pm

Jennie Harney is incredible as ALL THREE of the Schuyler Sisters in Hamilton. She is unreal. 

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BrodyFosse123
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#12
Posted: 1/15/18 at 4:37pm
Javier Muñoz in IN THE HEIGHTS.

Had seen Lin-Manuel twice so I was familiar with his performance. Then on my 3rd time I had Javier and loved his interpretation, which was much more youthful and adorable yet equally as fantastic as Lin-Manuel’s.
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JBroadway
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#13
Posted: 1/15/18 at 4:50pm

I actually haven't seen THAT many understudies considering how many shows I see (my theory is that it's because I see most shows early in their runs). Most of the ones I've seen have been very good - sometime even better than the leads, but very few have really stuck with me over time. Having said that, here are some of my favorites:

Bradley Dean as Doctor Zhivago

Anne Markt - Luisa in The Fantasticks

Shaun Taylor-Corbett - Usnavi in In The Heights

Cathryn Basile - Eponine in Les Mis

James Moye - Oscar in On The Twentieth Century 

Felicia Ricci - Elphaba in Wicked

 

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Best understudy you've ever seen?#14
Posted: 1/15/18 at 5:03pm
- Analisa Leaming as Anna in the King and I revival
- Elizabeth Judd as Angelica in Hamilton
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KathyNYC2
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#15
Posted: 1/15/18 at 5:40pm

Previously.....Gabby Pizzolo as Small Allison in Fun Home (and then she got the job)...

Now......Stephanie Torns as Jenna in Waitress.

HamilHansen
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#16
Posted: 1/15/18 at 5:43pm
Updated On: 8/9/18 at 05:43 PM
UncleCharlie
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#17
Posted: 1/15/18 at 5:51pm

I saw Tari Kelly go on as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes in the most recent revival. She was absolutely amazing, every bit the triple threat Sutton was in that role.

smidge
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#18
Posted: 1/15/18 at 5:59pm
Kenita Miller in The Color Purple.
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#19
Posted: 1/15/18 at 7:11pm

leighmiserables said: "Jim Stanek as Bruce inFun Homewould probably be my favorite. I thought he was absolutely amazing (and that's coming from someone whose major reason for going in the first place was Michael Cerveris)."

I saw Stanek twice and totally agree with you. He has a much more "cuddly" demeanor, which worked to his advantage in a very different way from Cerveris.

About 9 years ago, I saw Ryan Quinn West's first performance as Bob Gaudio in the Jersey Boys Chicago cast (at the time in San Francisco) and he was fantastic. I didn't realize at the time it was his first performance. Did some googling and I can't tell if he's still performing. Too bad!

I saw Camille Eanga-Selenge once as Nabulungi in Mormon on Broadway a couple of years ago, and she was hilarious and luminous. I'm glad she's still doing the show (and in another hemisphere!).

"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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youwillbefound2
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#20
Posted: 1/15/18 at 7:25pm
Adam Kaokept as the Engineer in Miss Saigon
ahhrealmonsters
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#21
Posted: 1/15/18 at 7:31pm
Jenn Colella as Elizabeth in If/Then
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#22
Posted: 1/15/18 at 7:32pm

Surprised there's been no mention of Scott Stangland as Pierre in TGC. He was vocally superior IMO to Dave Malloy and in characterization he was as good as Josh. If I were to rank the Pierres it would be:

1) Josh

2) Scott and Dave (tied)

3) Oak

Also: Jeremy Morse as Ogie in Waitress. Just as good as Christopher Fitzgerald.

Updated On: 1/15/18 at 07:32 PM
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#23
Posted: 1/15/18 at 7:55pm

Not that it's saying much considering how horrible the production was, but Jason Wooten as Jekyll/Hyde was leaps and bounds better than Constantine. I could actually understand what Jason was singing/saying. 

 

Also shout outs to Elizabeth Judd and Jim Stanek. Elizabeth is from Dallas (yay Dallas), and was amazing as Eponine in the Dallas Theater Center Les Miz. I got to see Jim in Into the Woods at TUTS in Houston and he was superb. He was also one of the nicest people my friend and I got to talk to. He spent a good 10/15 minutes talking to my friend and me about both Fun Home and that production of ITW. 

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Best understudy you've ever seen?#24
Posted: 1/15/18 at 8:29pm

Mostly recently, Billy Bustamante blew me away in Saigon as the Engineer.  What an incredible performance-he commanded the show in a way I had not seen from a leading man in some time.  Also the Kim alt. Lianah was on and she was phenomenal.

Shoba as Natasha

Jessica Vosk as Golde

Jared Gertner when he was the Cunningham standby

J. Harrison Ghee when he was the Lola cover on tour...knew they would bump him to lead on Broadway at some point.

Michael Luwoye as Aaron Burr

Bryan Fenkart in Memphis on Bway

 

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leighmiserables
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Best understudy you've ever seen?#25
Posted: 1/15/18 at 8:37pm

faceleg said: " I got to see Jim in Into the Woods at TUTS in Houston and he was superb. He was also one of the nicest people my friend and I got to talk to. He spent a good 10/15 minutes talking to my friend and me about both Fun Home and that production of ITW."

He actually did the same thing at the stage door of Fun Home. I was the last in line and he struck up a conversation and I think we ended up speaking for slightly less than twenty minutes about the show and the "business", and this was on a freezing two-show day in March. I was shocked that he (completely willingly) took the time to talk to me when he really should've gone inside and rested before the evening performance. At one point I even suggested it but he insisted on continuing the conversation. Really just a wonderful person and a wonderful performer. 

(I forgot to mention in my above post that his "Edges of the World" was probably one of the singular most amazing moments I've experienced in a Broadway show—though, it was aided by the fact I was in the front row and he stared directly at me/the people around me for most of the song.) 

 

Updated On: 1/15/18 at 08:37 PM