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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW OF 2022: MY TOP 15 STANDOUT COVERS & SWINGS OF THE YEAR!


I am someone who is a great supporter and fan of Covers, Understudies, Alternates and Swings in the theatre industry. I believe these performers are the backbone of theatre and the industry would fall apart without them. This is especially of the last couple of years.

I will book tickets for a show when I know that a cover is performing, just to witness and support them. I have been privileged to see some absolutely phenomenal performances this year and have listed my top 15 standout Covers and Swings of 2022 below.


1) ETHAN DAVIS

ROLE: JOHNNY MOORE & OTHERS

SHOW: THE DRIFTERS GIRL


Ethan Davis made his West End debut as a cover in The Drifters Girl and I was lucky enough to see him perform as Johnny Moore on many occasions throughout the year. In fact, I saw him more times than the lead actor!

Davis belted out big songs with seemingly effortless ease and there's something about watching him on stage that maked me smile. His charisma made me want to watch him whenever he was on the stage and his velvet tongued vocals were a real treat for the ears.

Davis is currently touring Germany with The 12 Tenors but The Drifters Girl is going on tour later in 2023 and I'm crossing everything that he will be back to reprise the role of Johnny Moore.



2) ZARA MACKINTOSH

ROLE: JULIET

SHOW: & JULIET


Zara Mackintosh was a pure phenomenon as Juliet in & Juliet. She has a real powerhouse voice with was a joy to listen to. On the flip side can be small and intimate, and she expressed emotion with utter conviction and believability.

Mackintosh continues her role as Alternate Juliet and usually performs on the Friday matinee at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and will continue to do so until the show closes in March 2023.



3) JENNIFER TIERNEY

ROLE: BEVERLEY, ANNETTE & OTHERS

SHOW: COME FROM AWAY


Jennifer Tierney is one of the 'Super Standbys' in Come From Away, covering five different parts! After seeing her perform Me & The Sky at West End Live, I made sure that my next visit to the Phoenix Theatre was when I knew she would be performing as Beverley.

Tierney sang beautifully and with heartfelt meaning and her performance left chills running throughout my body. Tierney captures the meaning of every moment wonderfully and my heart was breaking for her character.


4) CURTIS SCOTT

ROLE: CLYDE MCPHATTER, LOVER PATTERSON & OTHERS

SHOW: THE DRIFTERS GIRL


Curtis Scott is another cover that I saw perform on many occasions in The Drifters Girl and his smooth vocals were joyous. His acting skills were great too and he was utterly convincing. He oozed sex appeal from the stage as McPhatter. He brought a real upbeat energy to the show which never dipped and he was likeable, even when his characters were less favourable! I'm excited to see what is next for this charismatic performer.



5) EMILY BENJAMIN

ROLE: SALLY BOWLES

SHOW: CABARET


Emily Benjamin has made my list, despite the fact that I never actually saw her portray Sally Bowles in Cabaret! I did however see her perform at West End Live and I was blown away by her. For me, she gave the standout performance of the entire weekend. She didn't just get up and sing, but she really performed and became the character. She sang like her life depended on it and Trafalgar Square erupted with well deserved applause when she concluded.

Benjamin continues in Cabaret as Alternate Sally Bowles and on my next visit to the Kit Kat Club I would love to see her perform.



6) MATTHEW GOODGAME

ROLE: NICK MASSI

SHOW: JERSEY BOYS


Despite visiting the Trafalgar Theatre to see Jersey Boys a few times this year, I have not actually seen Karl James Wilson as Nick Massi! Instead I have been treated to different covers, and on the last two occasions I saw Matthew Goodgame in the role.

Goodgame gave a great performance and I loved his transition from being in the background and letting things wash over him, to when he lets out 10 years of frustration in one go! His vocal tone is beautiful to listen to and adds a depth to the performances.

When not covering Nick Massi, Goodgame plays Gyp DeCarlo in the current West End cast of Jersey Boys.



7) JASMINE JULES ANDREWS

ROLE: BABE

SHOW: THE CHER SHOW


I saw Jasmine Jules Andrews covering Babe, the young Cher, when I saw The Cher Show in Plymouth. She was really great & you could see the wide-eyed innocence of the young girl and how she fell head over heels in love with Sonny. Throughout the show, her innocence never faltered and it was interesting to see the young Cher's perspective & sometimes disbelief at things that happen in her future.

Even though she played the most unrecognisable version of this icon, Andrews stage presence and characterisation meant she never fell into the background.



8) ASHFORD CAMPBELL

ROLE: BEN E. KING, RUDY LEWIS & OTHERS

SHOW: THE DRIFTERS GIRL


Ashford Campbell has beautiful vocals and his performance in The Drifters Girl of songs such as Stand By Me and Under the Boardwalk left the entire audience in awe of his talent.

He portrayed the tragic story of Rudy Lewis with beautiful realism and the conclusion of his story is a real heartbreaking moment. Campbell seems to have the ability to really draw the audience in and is utterly believable as each character he plays. His performance of In the Land of Make Believe alongside Matt Henry was another standout moment in the show.

I would love to see him perform live again as his vocals were simply stunning, so I will be looking out to see what he does next.



9) HUON MACKLEY

ROLE: GYP DeCARLO & OTHERS

SHOW: JERSEY BOYS


Huon Mackley is a swing in the West End company of Jersey Boys and almost every time I saw the show in 2022, he was covering the role of Gyp DeCarlo. Each time he gave an absolutely believable performance. DeCarlo was a domineering presence and Mackley captures this part of him expertly. If you get the chance to see him in this role, then take it. He doesn't disappoint.



10) CHRISTIAN MAYNARD

ROLE: FRANCOIS

SHOW: & JULIET


Christian Maynard completely drew me in as Francois in & Juliet. He totally became the character and portrayed his insecurities and the challenges he faces with stunning precision. As well as his sublime acting skills, his singing voice was wonderful.



11) GUY WOOLF

ROLE: GREG ALLMAN, ROB CAMILETTI & OTHERS

SHOW: THE CHER SHOW


Guy Woolf played a number of roles in The Cher Show and you really felt as if you were watching different characters and not just the same actor but in a different costume which is sometimes a danger, especially if some are quite close together in the storyline as they were here. This is a real testament to his acting skills and he was a joy to watch in each role.



12) WILL LUCAS

ROLE: KNUCKLES

SHOW: BUGSY MALONE


Will Lucas was wonderfully comical as Knuckles in Bugsy Malone. I was lucky enough to see him in the role on my second viewing. The character allows Lucas to show off great physicality and he was a real joy to behold.



13) ELLIOT ALLINSON

ROLE: BOB GAUDIO

SHOW: JERSEY BOYS


Elliot Allinson is a swing who covers a few roles in Jersey Boys, and I saw him covering Bob Gaudio. His sublime singing voice suited the character and his harmonies blended beautifully. He had great diction throughout which meant you never missed anything.

I know that he covers Frankie Valli too and it would be great to see him in this role on one of my visits to Jersey!



14) CARL MAN

ROLE: ROMEO

SHOW: & JULIET


Carl Man gave a great performance as Romeo in & Juliet. He blended seamlessly into the production like it was the role he was born to play. His performances of songs such as It's My Life were phenomenal and he looked like he was having the time of his life on the stage. Although not really one of the main characters, his energy exuded and I'm so glad I got to see him in the role.



15) CHRIS KIELY

ROLE: RODNEY

SHOW: ONLY FOOLS & HORSES


Chris Kiely was a triumph as Rodney in Only Fools & Horses. It's always difficult to recreate an iconic character on the stage but Kiely nailed it. The voice, mannerisms and physicality were spot on and I overheard many of my fellow theatre goers commenting on how good he was.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


Disclaimer: All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence. Some of my top performers were in shows for which I had received invites, which means my tickets were gifted, but this has not played a part in these performers featuring on this list. To the best of my knowledge, all information is correct at the time of writing this article.

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