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BROADWAY RETURNS: Come From Away - Resumes 9.21.21 Moulin Rouge! - Resumes 9.24.21 THE 74TH TONY AWARDS - 9.26.21 Aladdin - Resumes 9.28.21 To Kill a Mockingbird - Resumes 10.5.21 Tina - Resumes 10.8.21 Girl From the North Country - Resumes 10.13.21 Ain't Too Proud - Resumes 10.16.21 Jagged Little Pill - Resumes 10.21.21 The Phantom of the Opera - Resumes 10.22.21 The Book of Mormon - Resumes 11.5.21 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Resumes 11.12.21 Dear Evan Hansen - Resumes 12.11.21 Beetlejuice - Resumes 4.8.22

NEW ON BROADWAY: Lackawanna Blues - Opens 9.28.21 SIX - Opens 10.7.21 Freestyle Love Supreme - Opens 10.7.21 Chicken & Biscuits - Previews 9.23.21 Opens 10.10.21 Is This a Room - Previews 9.24.21 Opens 10.11.21 The Lehman Trilogy - Previews 9.25.21 Opens 10.12.21 Dana H. - Previews 10.1.21 Opens 10.17.21 Thoughts of a Colored Man - Previews 10.1.21 Caroline, or Change -Previews 10.8.21 Opens 10.27.21 Trouble in Mind - Previews 10.8.21 Opens 10.27.21 Diana - Previews 11.1.21 Opens 11.17.21 Trouble in Mind - Previews 10.29.21 Opens 11.18.21 Clyde's - Previews 11.3.21 Opens 11.22.21 Mrs. Doubtfire - Previews 10.21.21 Opens 12.5.21 Flying Over Sunset - Previews 11.11.21 Opens 12.13.21 Company - Previews 11.15.21 Opens 12.9.21 Skeleton Crew - Previews 12.21.21 Opens 1.12.22 MJ: The Musical - Previews 12.6.21 Opens 2.1.22 The Music Man - Previews 12.20.21 Opens 2.10.22 Paradise Square - Previews 2.22.22 Opens 3.20.22 Take Me Out - Previews 3.9.22 Opens 4.4.22 Birthday Candles - Previews 3.18.22 Opens 4.10.22 The Minutes - TBA Plaza Suite - Previews 2.25.22 Opens 3.28.22 American Buffalo - TBA 1776 - TBA Sing Street - TBA Our Town - TBA

COMING UP THIS WEEK: Broadway Musical Revival Logos Tournament: THE CHAMPIONSHIP! - Performers We Can't Wait to See More Of - Broadway in a Box: Fiddler on the Roof - One That Got Away: Neil Simon's Rumors - Broadway Games!

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

At This Performance: Jessica Phillips in Next to Normal

New Series! We've all been there. You've waited months to see a show, and you've heard constant raves about a particular performer in that show. Then one of two things happens: either you manage to catch a quick glimpse of the cast board before you surf the crowd into the seating area, or you get your Playbill from the usher, and little white squares of paper float down to the floor. Either way, an understudy (or several) are on - including the one you were dying to see.




At This Performance...
Jessica Phillips in Next to Normal

In nearly forty years (!) of seeing Broadway shows, I can honestly say that I have rarely been disappointed by an understudy. More than once, I've even preferred the understudy to the regular performer. Most of the time, though, I think they are equally awesome. Such is the case with that time I went to see Alice Ripley in Next to Normal, and instead I got the little slip that said, "At This Performance the role of Diana  will be played by Jessica Phillips."

Jessica Phillips
Now, at this point, I had been fortunate to have seen Ms. Ripley several times, and the show had already cemented its place on my short list of favorite musicals of all time. So, I was feeling I had nothing to lose and only a chance to gain. Maybe I'd be afforded the chance to follow a different character more closely since I wouldn't be completely riveted to Alice's intensity. Or maybe Jessica would offer a different, interesting take on the role.

Fast forward to the curtain call, where we were all on our feet, screaming our "brava"s at the stage when she took her bow, and the tears, as always, were rolling down my cheeks. Ms. Phillips was brilliant in the role from start to finish. I'm pretty sure I forgot she was an understudy around the time she put the first slice of bread on the floor. What I appreciated was that she didn't try to replicate Alice's take on Diana. Rather, she was slightly more subdued, playing each moment in a a way that gave all of us a little room to breathe between episodes. In turn, her performance built and built and ended up plowing right through our hearts.

 
 
After the show, with a little time before I had to head home, I decided to hang out in Shubert Alley and watched the crowd get autographs from the cast. Ms. Phillips came out last, and the crows was dissipating, so I thought I'd take the chance to offer my personal congratulations. So I stood at the end of the barrier, and when she got to me I was last. We had a wonderful chat about her take on the role, and about mental illness in general. She was sweet, and I had a new Broadway actor to follow.

How do you like this new series? Let us know via Twitter or email (info above), and feel free to share your understudy experiences!

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