An actor returned to Broadway after 7 years to save ‘Wicked’ from a cast shortage



Carla Stickler had been working as a software engineer in Chicago when she got the call last weekend to fill in for one of the lead roles in the musical “Wicked” — Elphaba. Though she had spent years performing on Broadway as an understudy in the role, she hadn’t done the show in seven years.

Still, she flew to New York so that the show could go on.

“To say it was an incredible moment would be an understatement,” Stickler wrote on Instagram on January 2. “I am so overjoyed to have performed with this amazing cast and crew. They helped carry me thru the show last night, and without their energy, cheering me on, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Stickler said that she left show business in 2015 after dealing with injuries and health issues, but that returning to the stage in this unexpected way was a reminder of just how magical the experience was.

“Having the opportunity to perform her again after having left the biz is giving me the closure I have been missing,” she wrote. “If I never performed again, I could rest easy knowing that something out of this world happened last night.”

Stickler’s fellow actors applauded her impressive feat, too.

“Some of us might not totally appreciate what a role like this entails—let alone not having done, rehearsed it, or even THOUGHT about it for SEVEN years,” actor Alexandra Silber tweeted. “But Carla? Did it. On one of the biggest stages ON EARTH.”

Stickler isn’t alone in having to pull off a last-minute performance. As Omicron spreads across New York, several Broadway actors have gotten infected with Covid-19 — meaning that understudies, swings and standbys have had to step in.

Recently, Hugh Jackman paid an onstage tribute to understudies, calling them “the bedrock of Broadway.” Days later, the actor and two-time Tony Award winner — who will star in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man” on Broadway — announced he had tested positive for Covid-19.



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