Hugh Jackman put the spotlight on the understudy who took over ‘The Music Man’ leading lady role just five hours after the original actress tested positive for COVID in order to save the Christmas Eve performance on Broadway.
Audience footage captured the moment Jackman, the star of the show, took a moment during the cast bows to highlight Kathy Voytko’s performance, who filled in for Sutton Foster on Friday.
Voytko was able to jump into the role despite only ever rehearsing for the show once that same day.
‘It humbles me,’ Jackman said. ‘The courage it brings, the dedication, the talent. The swings, the understudies, they are the bedrock of Broadway.’
The performance came as dozens of Broadway performances have been cancelled in recent weeks due to the surge in COVID-19.
Scroll down for video:
Hugh Jackman (left) paid a special thank you to understudy Kathy Voytko, who filled in as the leading lady just five hours before showtime after Sutton Foster came down with COVID
Jackman said Broadway was hurting due to the recent surge of COVID-19 and thanked understudies and swings for making sure the shows go on
The Music Man, which stars Jackman and Foster, cancelled its weekend shows following a series of breakthrough cases as COVID and Omicron surge in the US
Broadway shows shuttered until after Christmas
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations: Shows resume December 27
Aladdin: Shows resume December 26
Dear Evan Hansen: Shows resume December 27
Hamilton: Shows resume December 27
MJ The Musical: Shows resume December 27
Skeleton Crew: Shows resume December 27
The Lion King: Shows resume December 27
Harry Potter and the Curse Child: Shows resume December 28
About Kathy Voytko
Before her performance on ‘The Music Man’ Kathy Voytko, 49, has acted on several Broadway plays.
The Pennsylvania native as acted in Tuck Everlasting, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Next to Normal, The Pirate Queen, The Frogs, Nine, and Oklahoma.
She’s also gone on tour for performances of Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
On TV, she’s played roles in the short Hearsay and co-starred in the AMC series Dietland.
During the tribute to Voytko, Jackman brought out all the last-minute replacements to the stage to honor them for their dedication and hard work in helping the show go on.
Jackman said the the latest COVID surge has been troubling to Broadway, which usually enjoys larger audiences during the holiday season.
‘It’s happening all over Broadway. This is a time we’ve never known,’ Jackman said
We’re in our fourth preview, we’re all just sort of learning, so swings and understudies have not had a chance to learn.
‘Take it from me, real superheroes do not wear capes,’ the X-Men actor joked.
Foster, 46, said she tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and lauded Voytko for her performance
The Statesboro, Georgia, native said she was ‘grateful to Kathy and our incredible company’ and ‘grateful to all swings and understudies who keep all the shows going, now and always.’
Foster called her costar in the musical Hugh Jackman ‘a class act,’ and encouraged her followers to ‘get tested, get vaccinated and get boosted.’
The musical issued a statement on Twitter Friday that it has canceled its shows for Saturday and Sunday due to breakthrough cases of COVID-19.
‘Our company would have loved nothing more than to celebrate the holiday with the audience and their families, but the priority is the health and wellness of the cast, crew and audience,’ organizers said in a tweet.
‘We are so grateful to our entire cast and crew — most especially our heroic understudies and swings — for ensuring our speedy return to the Winter Garden Theatre.’
Broadway has been hit particularly hard by the surge, with popular plays like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton, and MJ The Musical all cancelling upcoming shows due to the outbreak.
Dear Evan Hansen, Aladdin, Ain’t Too Proud, and Skeleton Crew also shuttered performances until after Christmas due to positive Covid cases among actors and stagehands.
But despite the cancellations, Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said that curtains are not down on Broadway.
‘We have absolutely no plans to shut down,’ she told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘We are paying serious attention to the protocols.
‘The other 20 to 30 shows continue to perform because we’re following the protocols that we set up, and it shows they’re working.’
Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, which represents actors and stage managers, said the cancellation of shows means that Broadway producers are taking cases seriously and acting appropriately.
St. Martin told the Hollywood Reporter that crews on shows are getting tested and that cast and audience safety is a priority.
‘But our number one priority is safety and security and, if the show is opening, we believe that we have the correct information that says it is safe to open for the cast, the crew and the audience,’ she added. ‘If we don’t feel it’s safe, we don’t perform that day.’
When Sutton Foster (left) came down with COVID-19, understudy Kathy Voytko was able to step in with just five hours to showtime and only one rehearsal under her belt
Replacement: Foster took to Instagram Stories to detail the situation and laud her understudy Kathy Voytko for taking her place as Marian Paroo in the production
On hold: The musical issued a statement on Twitter Friday that it has canceled its shows for Saturday and Sunday due to breakthrough cases of COVID-19
The Moulin Rouge show laid empty after a member of the show tested positive for COVID last week, forcing the show to close just as fans had taken their seats
Disappointed fans tweeted out pics of the Moulin Rouge emptying on Broadway last week
The Lion King is among eight shows that were cancelled due to COVID but are set to resume after the holiday weekend as Broadway leaders refuse to keep the shows closed
Christmas Day COVID figures show that the United States has recorded a total of 151,915 new infections – just 39,000 fewer than last year – and a total of 4,644 cases of Omicron.
America also saw 1,013 deaths in the most recent 24 hours. Seven day average deaths currently sit at 1,542, according to analysis from DailyMail.com.
On Christmas Eve more than 69,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported, up around two percent from last week.
On Friday morning, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the Empire State had once again broke its daily COVID infection record, with 44,000 new cases. That was up from 38,600 the day before, and almost 20,000 higher than cases were on Tuesday, with Hochul blaming Omicron for that surge.
Meanwhile, confirmed Omicron infections rose 45 per cent in a day, from 2,625 to 3,286. Those represent a tiny fraction of the true total, because the US only sequences a very small proportion of positive PCR tests to identify which strain caused a person’s infection.
The CDC estimates that at least 73 per cent of all new COVID infections are being caused by Omicron, with that figure as high as 92 per cent in five states including New York and New Jersey.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the surge Monday, saying that the city will experience a ‘fast and temporary’ spike in Covid cases. Officials are responding by adding 23 testing sites will be added throughout the city, making 112 sites available for New Yorkers to get tested ahead of the holidays.
On Tuesday, he also urged New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots – offering $100 vouchers as an incentive.
Last week Broadway was forced to shut down nine separate productions for single or multiple performances after the city logged a record 21,908 COVID-19 cases
Despite several cancellations, Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin (pictured) said the show must go on: ‘We have absolutely no plans to shut down’
Harry Potter and the Curse Child was another show that laid empty during the holiday week
Other popular Broadway shows, including Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Chicago and more are still running all week, with most shows taking the day off for Christmas Eve.
In New York, the rules have tightened for children and opera-goers: All kids aged 5 to 11 must now show proof of receiving at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to attend a Broadway show and must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
If the child was vaccinated fewer than 14 days before the performance, he or she must also provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test for entry.
Broadway’s Hamilton was forced to shut down due to a Covid-19 outbreak within the company at The Richard Rogers Theater
Last week the world-famous Rockettes announced they were forced to cancel the remainder of their Christmas Spectacular shows at Radio City Music Hall due to a cast Covid-19 outbreak
And the Metropolitan Opera is requiring the audience and employees to receive Covid booster shots for entry starting January 17.
On Monday producers for Jagged Little Pill announced that the Broadway musical was closing permanently after ‘multiple positive Covid-19 cases’.
‘JAGGED LITTLE PILL played its final Broadway performance on December 17, 2021. For the tremendous honor and privilege of sharing this incredible experience – thank u,’ the musical’s producers posted on Twitter.
The producers said they will be announcing plans in 2022 for subsequent productions after bringing Jagged Little Pill earlier this month to Australia.
‘We also hope and intend to find a way to bring this vibrant and vitalizing musical back to the Broadway stage, once the current crisis is past,’ the statement said while adding that Friday’s performance was its last.
Last week the world-famous Rockettes announced they were forced to cancel the remainder of their Christmas Spectacular shows at Radio City Music Hall after production members were hit with COVID-19 on Friday as cases in New York City continue to climb.
‘We regret that we are unable to continue the Christmas Spectacular this season due to increasing challenges from the pandemic,’ a press release stated.
Hugh Jackman pays tribute to understudy who stepped in when ‘The Music Man’ leading lady got COVID