Hawaii actor Marc delaCruz was performing as Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway hit, “Hamilton,” nearly two weeks ago. But he only did Act 1 – with reason.
It’s the leading role, originated by the author, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and delaCruz had been understudying the part and even played the role a few times since he joined the company more than four years ago at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway.
On Dec. 19, however, after completing Act 1 as Hamilton, delaCruz became an unsung hero. Cast member Kyle Scatliffe, normally enacting the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, became ill midway in the show and had to exit the production by Act 2.
Enter, delaCruz. Because he had also understudied Lafayette and Jefferson, plus King George, he was the go-to-guy that evening, winding up playing three different lead roles, saving the day since he was the only one able to take over the dual roles assigned to Scatliffe.
Standbys don’t often have such short notice to live up to the show biz adage, “the show must go on.” Turns out that another ensemble performer, Alexander Ferguson, was the only available actor ready to step into the shoes of Hamilton, normally portrayed by Miguel Cervantes, who was off that evening. And Adam Ali Perez had to cover Ferguson’s ensemble slots.
Such is the dynamics of standbys and swings, who learn different roles just in case of these unexpected switcheroos. It’s not common for such abrupt changes, between acts, but it happens. I experienced similar change of actors this past summer, when the leading actress in “Some Like It Hot,” apparently took ill by intermission, and her standby answered the call. An announcement was made prior to the start of Act 2 that a sub was filling in for the leading lady to complete the show.
DelaCruz earlier made history when he was the first Pinoy from the Big Island to play the “Hamilton” lead as a standby in the original Broadway company.
Another island actor, Joseph Morales, has been the only other Hawaii actor doing the titular role, first as an understudy in the Chicago company, then as a touring Hamilton crisscrossing the nation.
BroadwayWorld spoke with delaCruz about the nature and impromptu inner-workings of being a standby on Broadway.
DelaCruz usually receives adequate notice if he’d have to take on a role other than the ones he portrays. So, he checks his email and phone but, in the past, commonly with a half-hour notice to prep for a fill-in.
“The most challenging part is not always knowing when you’ll be on, but still needing to be ready,” said delaCruz. “Sometimes we know in advance if the onstage actor has a personal day or vacation scheduled, but most of the time we don’t know we’re on until the day of the show. I’ve gone on with less than half hour notice and jumped in mid show a few times.”
He monitors his cell phone and wakes up daily, wondering “Will I be going on this intense emotional journey today?”
A standby has to stay active, exercise and vocally warm up and sing every day. “I review music on a regular basis and stay up to date with notes given from the show, ” he said, and he must report to work daily, whether he’ll be on or not. “Swings can watch the show and keep up with what’s going on onstage, or I’ll watch parts of the show from the house.”
He has admiration for his fellow cast members and appreciates the opportunities he’s had to learn the intricacies and complexities of the show.
“This job has stretched me further as a performer than I ever thought I could go,” he said.
“Hamilton” has multiple swings and standbys who are ready to roll when needed, so “any one of these covers would have done what happened (on Dec. 19) beautifully. “I just happened to be the one in the hot seat that night,” said delaCruz…
All about Eve
In years or decades past, Waikiki would have had scores of New Year’s Eve attractions, large or small.
This year, the countdown shows are few.
Kimie Miner (pictured) headlines a show 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night (Dec. 31), at the Hilton Hawaiian Village lawn. Mana Music Strings provide the accompaniment.
The Green headlines two performances at 8 and 11 p.m. tomorrow night (Dec. 31)at Blue Note Hawaii, at the Outrigger Waikiki resort. The group also performed last night (Dec. 29) and will be onstage again at 6:30 and 9 p.m. today (Dec. 30). The gig is mostly sold out, so check with Blue Note for availability of loge and bar area seating. …
And that’s Show Biz…