At the December 25 evening performance of Broadway's Wicked, Alexandra Billings, who plays the role of Madame Morrible, spoke at the curtain call to pay tribute to the many understudies and swings who allowed the international hit musical to perform as scheduled that night at the Gershwin Theatre.
Said Billings, "If we ever needed art more, I think it's now. There is a lot of talk around town about the usefulness of actors who fill the container of understudies and swings in each show… As art is a reflection of the human experience, we need all humans to participate and fill this dream so that it can blossom for you… If you thumbed through your program this evening, I think you would be shocked to find out how many humans were called 10 minutes ago…" Billings then asked all of the evening's understudies and swings to step forward to take another bow.
Among these artists were Allie Trimm and Jennifer DiNoia in the leading roles of, respectively, Glinda and Elphaba. In fact, the performance marked Trimm's first Broadway outing as the "Popular" witch. Billings posted the speech on TikTok, and it can be viewed below.
This 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.
Wicked also posted a "Together We're Unlimited" message on Instagram.
Wicked, which reopened on Broadway September 14, announced history-making casting news December 7. Brittney Johnson takes over the role of Glinda beginning February 14, 2022. Currently the Glinda standby, Johnson will become the first Black actor to assume the role of Glinda full-time.
Since opening October 30, 2003, Wicked has been performed in over 100 cities in 16 countries. In October 2019, the international hit musical surpassed Les Misérables to become the fifth longest-running production in Broadway history.
Wicked, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.
The Joe Mantello-helmed production features musical staging by Wayne Cilento, scenic design by Eugene Lee, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Tony Meola, projections by Elaine J. McCarthy, wig and hair design by Tom Watson, music supervision and arrangements by Stephen Oremus, orchestrations by William David Brohn, and dance arrangements by James Lynn Abbott. Casting is by the Telsey Office.
The musical is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt, and David Stone.