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Kathy Voytko, Johnstown native, Bishop McCort grad, saves “Music Man” on Broadway

… has distinguished acting career, started at OMOS

Kathy Voytko was not even alive when Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” debuted on Broadway in December of 1957.

Nevertheless, in the most recent Broadway production, the 1990 Johnstown Bishop McCort High School graduate was called upon to rescue the performance after the female lead contracted Covid.

The virus has played havoc with Broadway over the past 22 months, and that continued when Sutton Foster, who plays Marian Paroo, was relegated to the recovery room with Covid.

And when Voytko arrived at the Winter Garden Theatre at noon on December 23, she had never even rehearsed the role of Marian.

Praise from lead Hugh Jackman

Voytko’s performance drew rave reviews from the Music Man himself, Hugh Jackman, who played the role of Professor Harold Hill in the musical,

Hugh Jackman is joining the chorus of support for the understudies and swings who have become the heroes of Broadway in recent weeks.

The 53-year-old actor brought understudy Kathy Voykto front and center after the performance of The Music Man on Thursday night (December 23) after she filled in for Sutton Foster at the last minute.

Kathy made her debut as Marion Paroo at 8pm after finding out she would be performing in the show just eight hours earlier …

Hugh told the audience, “Kathy, when she turned up at work 12 o’clock could have played any of eight roles. It happened to be the leading lady. She found out at 12 noon today and at 1 o’clock she had her very first rehearsal as Marion Paroo.”

“Hugh Jackman Sings Praises for Broadway Understudies After Kathy Voytko Makes Marion Debut in 'The Music Man’,” Just, December 24, 2021

Kathy in Evita

Traces her first roles to Johnstown

In 2014, Kathy and her mother, Winnie, were honored by the Artists’ Hall of Fame that was sponsored by the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center in Johnstown. A story about her honor notes that she first took the stage at Our Mother of Sorrows School in Westmont, and her roots in the theater arts were deep,

Johnstown’s theater scene played a critical role in awakening Kathy Voytko’s passion for the performing arts. The stage at Our Mother of Sorrows grade school was the site of 6-year-old Kathy’s first speaking role.

Johnstown Concert Ballet was Kathy Voytko’s second home for most of her formative years.

She credits the ballet’s artistic director Carla Prucnal’s rigorous training and challenging choreography for giving her the solid foundation in dance.

During her senior year at Bishop McCort Catholic High School, Kathy Voytko was named Cambria-Somerset Young Woman of the Year.

She has since performed all over the world, originated roles and has met and worked with legendary names in show business. She has starred in national tours and has performed on Broadway.

Tom Lavis, “Rewarding excellence / Artists’ Hall of Fame will

recognize three,” Tribune-Democrat, August 7, 2014

Kathy and husband, Broadway actor John Cudia, in "Phantom of the Opera"

Understudies under-appreciated

Jackman made clear that the role of understudies and swings are vital to the success of Broadway productions when praising Voytko’s performance,

The Broadway community has been very vocal about supporting understudies and swings after Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin made very upsetting comments, suggesting that they do not give performances to the caliber of the main cast members. Understudies and swings have been saving shows from going dark amid many Broadway actors testing positive for COVID-19 during the surge of the Omicron variant …

“This is unprecedented. It’s not only happening here at the Winter Garden, but all over Broadway. This is a time we’ve never known. We’re in our fourth preview and we’re all still learning, so swings and understudies have not had a chance to learn. They’ve watched from the corner of the room while we rehearse, while we get to practice over and over again. They just get to watch and write notes and then five hours before a performance they’re told, you’re on,” Hugh said.

“So, all of these people here. The swings, and I’m emotional because it humbles me. The courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent. The swings, the understudies, they are the bedrock of Broadway.”

Just Jared, December 24, 2021

Kathy’s accolades

The Johnstown native has drawn praise from many critics for her roles over the years. These include playing the role of Eva Peron in the musical Evita and performing in the popular play based on the novel “Bridges of Madison County,”

“Evita herself, the superlative Kathy Voytko, is a dominant figure from her humble beginning as a feisty teenager...The celebrated “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is a crowning moment for Voytko, realizing her power and glory at last, but it is the first act closer, “ A New Argentina,” that rocks the house...”

Tom Titus-LA Times

“If you want to understand how much one performance, by one inestimably excellent artist, can mean to a work of musical theater, let me suggest a trip to “The Bridges of Madison County” at the Marriott Theatre...for in that circular, suburban iteration of throbbing, midlife, extramarital passion in Winterset, Iowa, of 1965, you will find the work of Kathy Voytko and of an actress, living and making a show.”

Chris Jones-Chicago Tribune

Kathy Voytko Official Website

What a fabulous opportunity for a native of Cambria County.

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