Playbill Poll: Readers Pick New Categories for Tony Awards

By Carey Purcell
07 Jun 2013

A young Shirley MacLaine got her start as an ensemble member and understudy in The Pajama Game .


Cortney H.: Best standby/understudy for a leading role...they never seem to get enough credit
Sandra MacDonald Adams: Best understudy in a leading role. They are usually amazing AND perform in the ensemble every single night. I say no to "best ensemble." The Tonys would turn into "everybody on stage deserves a trophy" attitude. Sort of like children's sports awards....where we are all winners type of attitude.

There's no shortage of talent on Broadway waiting to get the role that make them stars. Performers who got their big breaks when understudying include Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Hopkins, Taye Diggs and Sutton Foster.  Continued...