"I was literally burning ground turkey on my stove. My fire alarm was going off, and I was missing calls left and right from my manager. Then I saw a text that said SOS, and I thought, 'Oh no, who all's out today...who am I about to play?'"
That was the Saturday before the Tony Awards, when SIX: The Musical's dance captain and alternate Mallory Maedke found out that Abby Mueller, who plays ex-wife Jane Seymour, had tested positive for COVID and would not be able to perform at the televised awards ceremony.
As an alternate covering three of the Queens in Six, Maedke is, of course, always ready at a moment's notice to go into the show. In fact, just this Wednesday matinee, the musical had what Maedke called an "alternate all-skate"—all four alternates were covering for four of the six Queens for the performance.
But this was not just a regular show. The company would perform a mashup of the title number "Six" and "Ex-Wives" at Radio City Music Hall, a stage much larger than the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where they normally play eight shows a week. Not only that, but due to COVID protocols at Radio City, she had not been allowed to attend rehearsal with the cast earlier in the week. So, they rented a rehearsal studio on Saturday to discuss the new cut made specifically for the Tonys and teach Maedke the adjusted staging.
She did have one rehearsal on the Radio City stage the morning of the Tonys, then spent the day studying videos of that rehearsal to perfect her performance for Sunday night.
What was supposed to be a leisurely lunch with her friend Catherine before they dressed up for the Six watch party at Guastavino's turned out to be a high-adrenaline whirlwind of a day. "I'm just so grateful for all my friends and family for reminding me that I can do it. It was just so nerve-wracking, and I want to represent understudies in a good way, " she says.
That she did.
As the Six performance finished, Tony host Ariana DeBose met them at the front of the stage and announced, “I do want everybody to hear this because this is what tonight’s been all about! Mallory Maedke! This woman is the dance captain and the alternate who was put into this number 12 hours ago. It’s what they do because the show must go on!"
"Ariana giving me a shout out was an out-of-body experience. I truly did not know what was happening. I was just hanging out trying to breathe and be happy that I was in the right spot," says Maedke. "I'm very grateful for her for doing that and shining a light on how crazy life for a swing can be. It can be high-anxiety and stressful, and this was such a positive turn to showcase us."
Maedke did finally make it to the watch party, but by the time she got there it was a full-on celebration of the musical's two Tony wins: Best Score for its creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and Best Costume Design for designer Gabriella Slade—and a celebration of all the cast and company members who ensure the show always goes on.
See Maedke perform with the cast of SIX: The Musical at the 75th Annual Tony Awards: