Drawing: Steph Parry in Mamma Mia!

Autographed drawing of Steph Parry in Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre on London's West End

Three months ago understudy Steph Parry made headlines when she stepped in to save a neighbouring West End production with only eighteen minutes notice. Early in the first act of MAMMA MIA!, lead Caroline Deverill in the role of Donna Sheridan injured her calf muscle, with no understudy cover.

A block away, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, understudy for 42ND STREET, Steph was sitting in the dressing room eating carrots and hummus when she was asked to pop over to continue the role of Donna in front of a sell-out audience. Steph had understudied the part five years earlier and reprised the role last year on a cruise ship. The audience reaction was euphoric when she took to the stage, greeted with a huge round of applause.

Life imitated art, the premise of 42ND STREET is an understudy’s rise from showgirl to star. As one observer noted, replacing ‘We’re In The Money’ for ‘ Money, Money, Money.’ After understudying six-and-a-half years ago for the Mrs Wilkinson role in BILLY ELLIOT, the three female parts in MAMMA MIA! and Madame Morrible in WICKED, Steph finally landed a lead role, replacing LuLu as Dorothy Brook in 42ND STREET from 9 July until last Saturday.

She signed this ‘Donna’ sketch at the Theatre Royal stage door on Saturday, before her last lead performance, returning to her understudy duties.

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Drawing: Dianne Pilkington in Mamma Mia! and Young Frankenstein

Dianne Pilkington’s impressive stage career began in 1997 when became a cast member in the West End production of LES MISERABLES, including understudying the role of Fantine. After the UK tour of CATS, Dianne was selected to portray Glinda in the musical WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in 2007. From 2013-2016 she played Donna Sheridan in MAMMA MIA! at the Novello Theatre. This month Dianne began the West End run of Mel Brook’s musical version of his 1974 film YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the Garrick Theatre, playing Frederick Frankenstein’s fiancée Elizabeth Benning. Dianne signed my drawing after Saturday’s matinee.