Matthew Seadon-Young was on the night we attended Urinetown, replacing Richard Fleeshman. We were more than satisfied...! The first time I saw Aspects of Love in 1989, Ann Crumb was off and Carol Duffy was an amazing Rose Vibert. Tam Mutu was on the night we went to Love Never Dies, as Ramin Karimloo was indisposed for quite a while I seem to remember.
Basically I would say that understudies are all amazing - but in particular in recent years some seriously amazing performances by First Covers that I have had the privilege to witness have been Jonathan Williams as Valjean in Les Mis, Adam Bayjou as Valjean in Les Mis, Carolyn Maitland as Ellen in Miss Saigon, Kane Oliver Parry as Fiyero in Wicked and Shaun McCourt as Joseph in the UK tour (genuinely in a totally superior league to the celebrity cast in the role). The current cast of Phantom has two astonishing covers as the Phantom and Christine - Kieran Brown and Lisa Anne Wood - and the current alternate Donna in Mamma Mia (Shona White) is fantastic.
And as for Natasha Barnes in Funny Girl, this is what Mark Shenton wrote in The Stage:
"She's like a quirky, young Imelda Staunton, burning with a quiet intensity, heartbreakingly good acting and a singing voice that reminded me of the great, late Judy Garland."
I don't tend to see a show more than once, so this thread is difficult, but I will throw my hat in the ring for Jonathan Williams as Jean Valjean (2009) - Absolutely incredible and the best Valjean I've seen by quite some distance.
Like adrianics, I don't tend to see a show more than once so can't really compare understudies vs. principals, but I remember being incredibly impressed with Ashley Day at the Book of Mormon, as well as Richard Carson in Miss Saigon more recently.
I much preferred Richard Southgate as Moritz over Iwan Rheon in Spring Awakening in London. I didn't dislike Iwan but I saw Richard first and have this strange attachment the original people I see play roles.
I also preferred Sooha Kim and Richard Carson to Eva and Chris Peluso in Miss Saigon. Sooha especially was phenomenal, I was in love with her by the end which made the ending all the more tragic. I liked Eva but Sooha's acting felt more genuine, although I found Eva's voice to be just a bit more powerful.
Those two leads literally changed the whole show for me though. I first saw Miss Saigon just under a year ago, and although I liked it, I wasn't blown away at all. I decided to revist in the last few weeks, just to give it another go, and my gosh I sobbed from beginning to end! I loved it.
Post by Phantom of London on Mar 9, 2016 1:31:13 GMT
Sometimes the reaction with leads can get very stale, especially if one of them thinks you get 10 times what I earn, which can be differ cult, with a understudy their performance can be fresh, so you get a whole natural partnership that can be refreshing and filling. I have seen numerous understudies with varying results.