Anthony Edwards received a standing ovation during Friday's performance of...

Anthony Edwards received a standing ovation during Friday's performance of "Girl From the North Country." Credit: "Girl From the North Country"

Anthony Edwards is no stranger to playing a doctor or answering emergency calls after starring on the hit TV series "ER" for eight seasons. When Robert Joy, who plays Dr. Walker in the Broadway musical "Girl From the North Country" was unable to perform Friday night, Edwards stepped in and played the role with just one hour of rehearsal.

The actor was contacted by his wife, Tony nominee Mare Winningham who stars in the show, earlier that afternoon after several members of the company tested positive for COVID-19. "I was up in Connecticut taking those storm windows off of our house and Mare called me and said 'Hey, guess what?' We've lost another and we're going to have to cancel the show because Bob Joy's out," Edwards said in a YouTube video talking about his experience. Winningham then said that director Conor McPherson suggested Edwards come in to take Joy's place.

Producer Tristan Baker made a preshow announcement thanking the show’s swings and understudies, and then asked if “there was a doctor in the house” before revealing to the audience that Edwards would be taking the stage.

Edwards, 59, did appear with a script for some of the show, but for several scenes was able to work off book. At the curtain call, he received a standing ovation.

"I know audiences are so loving and forgiving," Edwards said in the video. "I've seen someone go on with a book before, and I just thought, I love this show, I love everything about it. And if it means … 1,000 people are going to be able to see it tonight as opposed to cancel it, I'm in. Like, let's go."

"I'm beyond impressed and proud," Winningham said about Edwards' performance, before saying to him, "You're fearless and fun and you're blessed."

The show's publicist said Edwards will continue in the show through Wednesday.

"Girl From the North Country," which is set at a rundown guesthouse in Duluth, Minnesota, during the Great Depression and features the songs of Bob Dylan, is up for seven Tony Awards including best musical. The show runs through June 19.

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