JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania – After Winnie Voytko heard about the national attention her daughter received for starring in “The Music Man” on Broadway, she was just happy to see her do what she loves.
“It’s just fun to follow your career,” she said.
Kathy Voytko replaced lead actor Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo when Foster tested positive for COVID-19 on December 23.
With just an hour’s notice, she began to rehearse the role without batting an eyelid and took the stage at the Winter Garden Theater alongside star actor Hugh Jackman.
It’s his swing job on Broadway.
A native of Johnstown and a 1990 graduate of Bishop McCort Catholic High School, she learns more than a handful of roles for each performance so she can fill them when needed. This includes memorizing all songs, speaking parts, and choreography for each role.
“She loves being a swing,” Winnie Voytko said. “Being a swing is always a challenge and something different. “
She added that her daughter never wanted to be a lead actress, as that would always mean performing the same songs and wearing the same costumes.
According to Kathy Voytko’s resume on her website, she has been cast for “Tuck Everlasting”, “The Pirate Queen”, “Oklahoma” and other Broadway productions. She also has credits in film, television and on the national tour.
Her last performance gained national attention because Jackman, starring Professor Harold Hill in the production, called out Kathy Voytko and everyone else rose to the limelight after the show to sing their praises.
“All of these people here, the swings – and I’m moved because it humiliates me,” he said in a video that was widely shared on social media. “The courage, the brilliance, the dedication, the talent – the swings, the liners, they’re the foundation of Broadway.”
Jackman also recognized the role that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has played in introducing oscillations in performance and canceling performance.
“This is what is unprecedented. It doesn’t just happen here at the Winter Garden. It’s happening all over Broadway, ”he said. “It’s a time we’ve never known. We’re on our fourth look – we’re all learning – so swings and liners haven’t had a chance to learn.
“They watch from the corner of the room as we rehearse, as we practice over and over again. They just have to look and write notes and then – five hours before our performance, that’s all – “By the way, let’s go. You have a wig fitting. Go.’ “
‘What I want to do’
Winnie Voytko said her daughter was a very talented person who “could have done anything she wanted in the world”.
Kathy Voytko chose a career as an interpreter because of a trip the couple took to a production of “Les Miserables” in Pittsburgh when she was in her final year of high school. Before that, she had never sung a note, her mother said.
“At intermission she looked at me and said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life,’” Winnie Voytko said.
Participating in the performing arts happens with the family. Winnie Voytko has been the Johnstown Concert Ballet seamstress for 50 years, and her daughter has danced there for 13 years.
Winnie and Kathy Voytko were both inducted into the 2012 Artist Hall of Fame, sponsored by Bottle Works.
Michael Bodolosky remembers the native of Johnstown as a “skillful and talented” young woman. He worked with her in 2017 when he was Executive Director of the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center at the University of Pittsburgh on the Johnstown campus.
Bodolosky said they wanted to showcase local talent and brought in Kathy Voytko.
“When she and her husband were at PPAC, they were phenomenal performers,” he said.
Bodolosky said he thought it was fantastic that she received this attention and hopes it opens more doors for him.
COVID-19 stops the show
Winnie Voytko said the family will generally see their daughter play if she can get to New York City quickly enough, but it won’t be anytime soon.
“The Music Man” is canceled until Saturday because Jackman has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I just wanted you to hear from me that I tested positive this morning for COVID,” he said in a video posted to Instagram on Tuesday. “My symptoms are like a cold. I have a itchy throat and a bit of a runny nose, but I’m fine and just going to do whatever I can to get better ASAP, and as soon as I’m cleared I’ll be back on stage. “
Kathy Voytko was unable to speak about the performance due to a contractual agreement with the show. The press service of “The Music Man” did not respond to an e-mail from La Tribune-Démocrate.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.