Noah Marlowe is a Broadway actor – but it’s unlikely you will get to see him perform.
Marlowe is a standby at The Book of Mormon on Broadway. His role is to go on for Elder Cunningham whenever the show’s lead actor is sick.
“A standby is someone who goes to the theater – is there every night,” Marlowe explained. “They are there just in case the tracks that they cover are sick.”
The importance of understudies and standbys has been integral to Broadway shows during the COVID-19 pandemic. A positive COVID test will knock an actor out of the show for nearly a week and elevate an understudy onto the Broadway stage. They are the last line of defense against shutting down for a stretch of time.
“I think that standbys and swings are the backbone of every show that there is,” Marlowe said. “The show that I’m in could not have survived really anything during the pandemic without the swings and standbys.”
Cody Jamison Strand, the current actor playing Elder Cunningham, has had to set out a few times giving Marlowe a chance to fill in about 20 times during his six-month contract.
Marlowe spends much of his time backstage working on schoolwork. He is also working on his undergraduate degree at Fordham University but watches the show through a monitor.
A COVID scare in the cast recently put Marlowe on stage for a full week of performances. Without his contribution, shows likely would have been canceled.
Every show on Broadway has had breakouts of COVID in its casts. Most of them have been able to stay open in recent waves — in large part because of the contributions of actors like Marlowe.