Hey, Chromolume. I did almost write that Erma was really just Bonnie, but I wasn't quite sure because I don't know the 1987 version all that well, although I did sort of watch the London version of the Roundabout production a few months ago, but it was so tough to watch it. Before that, i had not seen that version since late 1987 or early 1988.
But from sort of watching that London production, I did think to myself, "Oh, I guess I was surprised when I watched it that Erma really is Bonnie." So I should have done a bit of checking of the two versions before posting. Just fairly too lazy with everything else I was double checking.
I was sort of getting mixed up, I think, with Bonnie and Babe, the latter being the role played by Vivian Vance, who also understudied Merman (and went on for her at least four times), stayed in the role after Merman left and was replaced by Benay Venuta, and stayed in the role and as Reno understudy on the tour, taking over as Reno for the final week of the tour. Had the tour done better business, I imagine she would have played it longer, but it shut down after less than three months of fairly disappointing grosses. (There was a separate West Coast production.) Anyway, Vance was credited as Babe in the playbill, but no lines are assigned to her in the script. Several Angels and chorus girls have lines, and I imagine she had the lines assigned in the script to one of them.
Anyway, thanks for mentioning this and sending me back to the scripts.