As the newest strain of the coronavirus affects actors on and Off-Broadway, the theatre has become even more reliant on the talent and commitment of its understudies and standbys. In fact, the work and dedication of eight standbys allowed the Tony-nominated musical Come From Away to go on December 26 at Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
In a Facebook post, Come From Away co-creator David Hein wrote, "Bit of a miracle show today: 8 standby’s!!!!!!!!! - including friends from the tour and those who have left Broadway but are returning to support this community and make it all happen. Please read these names because they are ALL rockstars. (& props to the costume, stage/general/company management, producers, health & safety & sound/light teams too - all incredible)."
The actors who saved the day were Pearl Sun, Tony LePage, Monette McKay, Marika Aubrey, Julie Reiber, Holly Ann Butler, John Jellison, and Happy McPartlin. These eight artists took the stage, joining four regular cast members: De’Lon Grant, Paul Whitty, Caesar Samayoa, and James Seol.
The standby performance comes just days after Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin issued an apology to Broadway swings and understudies. The statement followed comments St. Martin made in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter (and cited on Playbill) about Broadway's recent COVID-related cancellations, which she intimated were partially due to a lack of "experienced" understudies and swings. Several industry leaders, including performer and Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle, took to social media to counter St. Martin's quote.
The international hit musical Come From Away, which resumed performances at the Schoenfeld September 21, tells the true story of 7,000 stranded air passengers during the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. The ensemble cast take on a variety of roles, from travelers to locals to airline personnel.
The show features music, lyrics, and a book by Irene Sankoff and Hein with direction by Tony winner Christopher Ashley, choreography by Olivier winner Kelly Devine, music supervision and arrangements by Ian Eisendrath, scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestrations by August Eriksmoen, and casting by Rachel Hoffman of The Telsey Office.
The film capture of Come From Away began streaming on Apple TV+ beginning September 10, while a free, in-person concert staging of the musical was presented in front of the Lincoln Memorial that same day.
After opening March 12, 2017, the musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The West End production reopened in London in July.