During Thursday (23 December) night’s performance of the 1957 musical, which stars Jackman and opened in previews earlier this week, the role of Marian (usually played by Sutton Foster) was covered by swing Kathy Voytko.
In professional theatre productions, swings learn the parts of up to 10 members of the cast and find out on the day if they will be performing and which role they will be playing.
In a clip taken from the end of Thursday’s show, Jackman is seen telling the audience that Voytko covers eight roles in The Music Man “including the leading lady”, with the crowd whooping in response.
He explained that Voytko was told at midday on Thursday that she would be playing the female lead and went into rehearsals an hour later for that night’s show, which was only the fourth preview of the musical.
Jackman then gathered the other swings on stage, saying: “It’s not only happening here… but all over Broadway. This is a time we’ve never known. We’re in our fourth preview, we’re all just sort of learning so swings and understudies have not had a chance to learn.
“They watch from the corner of a room while we rehearse, while we get to practice over and over again. They just get to watch and write notes and then five hours before performance they’re told, ‘You’re on by the way, you’ve got a wig fitting, go!’”
Getting “emotional” as he gave his speech, Jackman said that he felt “humbled” by their “courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent… they are the bedrock of Broadway”.
“Take it from me – real superheroes do not wear capes,” he added with a laugh.
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