January 23, 2023 |
Understudies took over the Broadway show “MJ: The Musical” on Saturday — and fans weren’t happy with their moonwalking at the Neil Simon Theatre.
After forking over $200 apiece for tickets for their family, one source told us, “It was so disappointing for the cast to be out… having that many understudies did not produce an excellent show!”
Eight members of the cast were absent — including the lead role of Michael Jackson as played by Myles Frost.
The show’s stand-in, Aramie Payton, has been performing as the King of Pop since Jan. 13 while Frost is on vacation.
But the other stars of the show are seemingly fighting winter bugs, including COVID-19, and, “as is standard with Broadway plays and musicals, backstage protocol requires that performers refrain from doing their show if they have tested positive for COVID,” a spokesperson told Page Six.
The rep confirmed that “there were a number of cases at ‘MJ’ recently,” but said it didn’t stop the cast from putting forth their best effort.
“Our extraordinary understudies are trained to perform at a moment’s notice, if necessary. Understudies rehearse rigorously and help provide audiences with the performance they paid to see,” the spokesperson further explained.
Another Broadway insider also told us that this isn’t just happening at “MJ.”
Unfortunately, “this is the time of year when performers get sick. ‘MJ’ is brutal on the body because it is so dance-driven… and, of course, health backstage has taken on an added seriousness with COVID,” they said.
In fact, shows have hired even more understudies “to make sure there is coverage to do the shows. The casts have gotten bigger,” the insider added.
The show continues to be a hit on Broadway either way. “More than 500,000 people have felt the thrill,” the show boasts on its Instagram page. “In 2023, we’re on our road to surpass 1 mill,” producers posted.