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Hugh Jackman Gave A Moving Tribute To Broadway’s Understudies And ‘Swings’ After His ‘Music Man’ Co-Star Caught COVID

Hugh Jackman may be known for playing an aggro superhero with rage issues and, of course, for his fake beef with Ryan Reynolds. But in real life he’s a sweetheart. Evidence of that came Thursday, when the star — currently starring in the revival of The Music Man — made sure to pay tribute to Broadway’s understudies and “swings,” especially after his co-star had to step down after testing positive for COVID.

Sutton Foster, Tony-winner and Younger star, was unable to portray librarian Marian Paroo in the classic musical, about a conman, played by Jackman, who tries to hoodwink a small town. (Simpsons heads may know it as the inspiration for the top shelf episode “Marge vs. the Monorail.”) That meant her understudy, Kathy Voytko, had to suddenly step in. Jackman made sure to praise Voytko and those like her who are always there to make sure the show, no matter what, goes on.

“Kathy, when she turned up for work at 12 o’clock, could have played any of eight roles,” Jackman told the audience. “And at 1 o’clock, she had her very first rehearsal as Marian Paroo.”

Jackman made sure to heap praise on all the understudies and swings, who are there to replace any performer who can’t make a performance. “They’ve watched from the corner of a room while we rehearse, while we get to practice over and over again,” Jackman said. “They just get to watch and write notes and then five hours before a performance, they’re told, ‘You’re on. By the way you’ve got a wig fitting. Go!’

“The courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent,” he added. “The swings, the understudies, they are the bedrock of Broadway.”

It’s not the first time Jackman has paid it forward. His kind words came during a rough time for Broadway, when numerous shows have had to cancel performances due to a massive uptick in cases, almost surely tied to the Omicron variant. The show doesn’t always go on, but when it does, it’s thanks to people like Kathy Voytko.

(Via NBC News)