I’ve rarely been disappointed by an understudy. The thing is, when you go see a show, you want to see the people who are supposed to be in the show, even if that person doesn’t have a famous name. You get used to rolling with the punches because even actors deserve lives outside their jobs, so you are happy with the fact that you are at a Broadway show, seeing all these great people.
Sitting down to see the Susan Stroman revival of The Music Man, I didn’t think much about understudy Leslie Hendrix going on as Mayor Shinn’s wife. But let me tell you, she was flat out hilarious. Hilarious! You could tell she had done her work on the character, and she went all out with Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn. Nobody told Hendrix she was playing a supporting part because every moment she was on stage, Hendrix was the full embodiment of that character in every single way.
My favorite memories of her spectacular performance were everything after the Grecian urn bit. She played Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn as if she thought she was doing Medea, and it impacted everything the character did thereafter. When running around as part of the melee, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn ran around like she was a grand dame of the theatre giving the performance of her life. She delivered her lines like that. She glanced like that. It was hilarious, nothing short of hilarious, and I ate up every minute of her performance.
When I came back to see the show again (interestingly enough I happened to get the same exact seat—second row orchestra, center aisle on house right), another talented actress played the part. Leslie Hendrix played that part like she was the star of the show. This other actress hardly registered on the stage. I knew it was unlikely I’d get to see an understudy twice in a row like that, but how I hoped!
I would love to see Leslie Hendrix in another major role on Broadway. What a gifted, under-utilized performer. She deserves so much more!
Getting to Know You Interview: We want to get to know Leslie Hendrix!
the Broadway Mouth
August 30, 2007