I have an infinite amount of respect for understudies. Seriously, they are some of the most versatile performers out there. To be able to learn the lines, blocking and choreography for multiple roles takes so much talent. I love when I go to a show to find out I’ll be seeing an understudy. They can often bring a new twist or different point of view to a show. Plus, some of the biggest stars had their humble beginnings as an understudy. These are a few of my personal favorite understudies I’ve been lucky enough to see.
- Khaila Wilcoxon (Eurydice, Hadestown)
Hadestown is one of my all-time favorite musicals, as well as one of the best I have ever seen. Part of this is because of Khaila Wilcoxon’s stunning performance as Eurydice. Her voice is insanely gorgeous, and her acting skills blew me away. Her singing alone brought me to tears and gave me goosebumps. Keep this girl on your radar – as soon as Broadway opens back up, she is without a doubt going places.
2. Christian Dante White (Cornelius, Hello Dolly)
I have to admit, at first, I was disappointed I wasn’t going to see Gavin Creel…but then it was okay because Santino Fontana was filling in for him. Then to find out he wasn’t there either…but all my fears were instantly gone as soon as Christian Dante White started singing in Put On Your Sunday Clothes. Seriously, I got chills from his first line. This man has one of the most beautiful singing voices I have ever heard. This is another name I’m sure we’ll be seeing in a few years, nominated for a Tony Award.
3. Aaron Walpole (Jean Valjean, Les Mis)
He was Ramin Karimloo’s alternate in the 2014 revival of Les Mis. And oh my god, what a voice! Just insanely talented. Now this was a few years ago, but I remember Walpole’s voice causing one of the biggest, longest standing ovations I’ve ever witnessed in a theatre. Honestly this revival was a gift in general and not enough people appreciated it but that’s a discussion for another post.
4. Deon’te Goodman (George Washington, Hamilton)
This is the part of the blog where I flex about seeing Hamilton on Broadway. I mean, it was in Summer 2019 but I still saw it! And I loved every second of it. I wasn’t too familiar with most of the cast at this point, so I was really excited to see understudies anyway, because I had no idea what to expect! And I was blown away. Seriously! Washington has some of my favorite songs in the show, and Goodman was incredible! His performance is a huge reason why I enjoyed seeing the show so much. I was weeping during his One Last Time. Another name to look out for again!
5. Charissa Hogeland (Veronica, Heathers)
Technically not an understudy because she was replacement Veronica by the time I saw her, but I couldn’t let this post go without mentioning her. Also, it was actually Off-Broadway, but anyway. Hogeland is genuinely one of my all time favorite performers. I was lucky enough to see Heathers four times when it was Off-Broadway. I saw her in her ensemble role twice, and then as Veronica twice. This lady is mega-talented. She can literally do anything. Her voice is incredible. Her acting skills are amazing. Hogeland was most recently an understudy in Frozen, but with her talent, I know as soon as theatre comes back she’ll get cast in something again. And hopefully this time she’ll be a star like she deserves.
Have you ever seen an understudy that exceeded all your expectations? Or maybe they brought a new twist to a role you hadn’t thought of? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your favorite understudy stories!