Understudy Hall: ‘At This Performance’: Spring 2010
Before the actors took the stage for the penultimate performance of the spring series of At This Performance concerts Sunday night, Musicals Tonight! artistic director Mel Miller delivered the bittersweet introduction. “These are among the most talented and underappreciated performers on Broadway,” he said. And therein lies what is so brilliant about this concert series that features Broadway understudies—for this night, the spotlight is on them; they are the headliners. Little white slips of paper be damned!
Sunday night’s lineup featured actors currently appearing in The Addams Family, Hair, Lend Me A Tenor, The Phantom of the Opera, and the recently closed Ragtime. Each performer took the stage, looking thrilled to be there, and ebulliently performed their prepared numbers. A barebones stage allowed the audience to focus solely on these (most likely, new) performers’ talents. Singing with only a piano accompanist (Eugene Gwozdz), the setting had an “audition feel” to it, which felt relevant to these performers’ stories.
Frank Mastrone sang a hyper-emotional “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. Mykal Kilgore performed an octave defying “Aquarius” from Hair (he understudies the female role of Dionne?? Interesting!). And Mamie Parris gave a heartbreaking rendition of “Back To Before” from Ragtime. In addition to impressive vocals, many of the actors’ performances displayed infectiously likeable personalities. Briana Carlson-Goodman of Hair performed a comedic song from a musical workshop she was involved with, where she sings of her love for her piano accompanist, and Lend Me A Tenor’s Donna English displayed a multitude of hilarious facial expressions during “The Killer Soprano,” a song featured in Forbidden Broadway.
Briana Carlson-Goodman (Hair, u/s Sheila and Chrissy)
“Easy To Be Hard” and the in-love-with-accompanist tune
Donna English (Lend Me A Tenor, standby Maria and Julia)
“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” and “The Killer Soprano”
Mary Illes (The Phantom of the Opera, u/s Madame Giry)
“Yes, It’s Love” and “Go Little Boat”
Morgan James (The Addams Family, u/s Wednesday Addams and Alice Beineke)
“Pulled” and “Ohio, 1904”
Mykal Kilgore (Hair, u/s Dionne)
“Aquarius” and “Don’t Let The Sun Get You Crying”
Frank Mastrone (The Phantom of the Opera, u/s Monsieur Andre and Piangi)
The dress rehearsal of ‘Hannibal’ (from Phantom), “Bring Him Home” and “Those Were The Good Old Days”
Anastacia McClesky (Hair, u/s Dionne)
“White Boys” and “Stormy Weather”
Mamie Parris (Ragtime, u/s Mother)
“Back To Before” and “Perfect”
The spring dates of At This Performance (which also takes place in the fall) has been playing on scattered Sunday and Monday evenings since February 28. Today is the final performance, and tickets can be purchased for $25 online or at the box office. Further information can be found at musicalstonight.org.