People who know me or regularly follow me on social media will know that I am a huge supporter of covers within theatre. They are the undeniable backbone of the industry and it is thanks to them that a show can be saved at a moments notice.
I have been known to book tickets for a show when I know certain covers are performing and I will continue to support them to the fullest.
Whether they’re technically a swing, an understudy or a cover, these talented individuals live life by the motto ‘The Show Must Go On’!
I have been privileged to see some truly phenomenal cover performances this year and my top 5 are listed below, along with some other notable mentions.
COVER OF THE YEAR 2023
1) OLLY CHRISTOPHER
Olly Christopher is the epitome of a musical theatre star and I was lucky to catch him in the role of Billy Lawlor on the 42nd Street tour this year. In fact I was so impressed by him that when I discovered he was performing in the role for the rest of the run in Plymouth, I booked a ticket to watch the show again!
He was utterly breathtaking and the way he effortlessly transitioned from huge dance routines to laid back vocals was something special. His dancing was exquisite and listening to his velvet singing voice was like receiving a vocal hug.
His performance was one of my absolute favourites in 2023, across any genre of theatre. I would love to see him as a leading man on the West End stage someday soon.
2) MATTHEW IVES
Back To The Future
Having previously seen Matthew Ives covering the role of Andy Williams in The Osmonds last year, I was overjoyed to catch him in Back To The Future recently in the role of George McFly and he was an absolute revelation.
Ives gives off a great energy when he performs and he just makes you want to watch him. In this role he had fantastic comic timing and delivered a flawless performance throughout.
I know he’s performing in the role again next weekend so it’s highly likely I’ll be booking a ticket!
3) THE JERSEY GIRLS
Gracie Lai - Rosie Needham - Kirsty Whelan - Bonnie Page
Lorraine / Francine / Mary Delgardo (& others)
The Jersey Girls collectively make the list because they are a real sensation. During a usual performance of Jersey Boys Gracie Lai plays Lorraine, Rosie Needham plays Francine and Kirsty Whelan plays Mary Delgardo, while Bonnie Page is a swing covering all three roles.
There are however occasions, due to holidays or sickness, where there are only two Jersey Girls available so therefore they perform all three tracks between two of them. I have personally seen many variations of this and these girls always smash it out of the park and are absolutely flawless.
I have even been at a performance where they had to switch to two girls mid-show and this was done seamlessly.
These girls are consummate professionals and deserve recognition for just how awesome they really are.
4) MATTHEW DAWKINS
Clyde McPhatter / Lover Patterson
The Drifters Girl
Matthew Dawkins covered the very first week of The Drifters Girl tour. He oozed sex appeal as Clyde McPhatter and was wonderfully unlikeable as Lover Patterson! He had fantastic vocals throughout and is just one of those performers that draws you to him. It looked like he was having the time of his life on the stage and his joy was projected onto the entire audience.
5) DANNY KNOTT
Danny Knott is the very definition of a ‘super swing’ and I have seen him cover many roles in Jersey Boys this year. He is currently the second cover for Frankie Valli and I was honoured to be at his first and last scheduled performances in the role.
He is absolutely fantastic, and is probably my favourite cover I have seen in the role. He sings the part wonderfully and he has great charisma which shines throughout his performance.
I have been overjoyed to witness so many incredible covers perform in all genres of theatre this year and would like to give notable mentions (in alphabetical order) to:
Michelle Buckley - Shirley Hastings - Strictly Ballroom
Ben Cutler - Ben - 2:22 A Ghost Story
Ryan Jupp - Bela Zangler - Crazy For You
Joseph Peters - Bob Gaudio - Jersey Boys
Disclaimer: All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence. Some of the shows and people mentioned above were from productions which I had received invites to see, meaning my ticket was gifted, but this has not played a part in their inclusions here.