I was looking forward to The Mad Ones, Prospect Theater Company’s new musical currently rocking the 59E59 Theaters to its knees. I had heard rumors of greatness and creativity within Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk’s musical creation, so I was a tad disappointed when I got an email on the day I was scheduled to review it that one of the actors, Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway’s On The Town) wouldn’t be appearing in the production that evening; a one off occurrence. Naturally for a review, I prefer to see the original cast members, but for me to change which performance I attended was more complicating with Thanksgiving almost upon us, than just going forward and living within what the world was handing me.
To be honest, it’s always somewhat of a thrill watching an understudy tossed into a show at the last moment. The theatre is jolted awake with anticipation, but I have always loved how an audience whole heartedly embraces the replacement, even as the wave of disappointment is felt floating through the air of the theater. Years ago, Idina Menzel sat out the second act (the one and only performance she did such a thing, and it was clear in Act I that she was struggling, sick with the flu) of If/Then. I knew the moment it was announced as we sat back down in our seats for the last act I’d have to return another time to see her and the show from beginning to end, but it was also exciting to watch the understudy grab hold of the reins and deliver the show forward to the end. She was astounding, doing what she did at a moments notice, and what a standing ovation she was rewarded with, by us and her cast mates. It was awesome.