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Hugh Jackman pays tribute to Broadway’s swings and understudies after Sutton Foster’s Covid-19 diagnosis

By Chloe Melas, CNN

Hugh Jackman paid an emotional tribute to understudies, calling them “the bedrock of Broadway.”

The actor and two-time Tony Award winner thanked Kathy Voytko, who plays Sutton Foster’s understudy as Marian Paroo in “The Music Man,” following their performance this week. Jackman told the audience that Voytko had only had her first rehearsal earlier that day. His comments were captured by an audience member and posted to Instagram.

“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,” Jackman said. “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!’ ”

Jackman asked other understudies to join him on stage as he spoke.

“I’m emotional because it humbles me,” he continued. “Their courage, their brilliance, their dedication, their talent. The swings, the understudies, they are the bedrock of Broadway.”

Foster revealed on her Instagram Stories Friday that she had tested positive for Covid-19. She praised Voytko saying she “smashed” her performance.

“Grateful to all swings and understudies who keep all the shows going, now and always,” Foster concluded in her message. “And Hugh Jackman … you are a class act. Get tested, get vaccinated, get boosted! Stay safe and healthy everyone.”

“The Music Man” is currently in previews at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City. The show will officially open starting Feb. 10.

Several Broadway shows have temporarily paused performances due to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

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