I started this blog with one daughter, kept it up with the other, to spend time together doing something we enjoyed.
However, things change and people evolve. My daughters are older, busier, and not as interested in writing.
From now on this blog will be mostly mom with occasional contributions from my daughters and maybe even my husband.
Nothing else will change. We'll still focus on sharing fun places to go, fun things to do, and more, and we would  still love to hear your views too

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday Special - An Interview with Jessica Tyler Wright, star of Play Like A Winner at the New York Musical Festival

The New York Musical Festival is a yearly three week festival of over thirty new musicals at different venues in New York City. This year's festival started on July 10 and will run through August 6. Over the next few weeks we will bring you several posts regarding various shows running at this year's festival.

PLAY LIKE A WINNER is a satire of the soccer mom world based upon the award-winning play All About the Kids by Caytha Jentis. At curtain, Coach Nick lies dead on center stage, impaled by a corner flag, while a chorus of soccer players sings in his honor. Kathy, a soccer mom, steps forward to tell us the story of how all this began… 

Jessica Tyler Wright (JTW) stars as Kathy in PLAY LIKE A WINNER.

When did you first know you wanted to act?  

JTW: I first knew when I was 11 years old and played the role of Annie at a local summer theatre in my home state of Wisconsin.  

Have you had any kind of professional training?  

JTW: I went to Millikin University and received a BFA in Musical Theatre while earning my BM in Violin Performance.  Continuing my violin studies came in very handy when I landed my first Broadway show, the revival of Sweeney Todd directed by John Doyle as well as my very first job in New York.

What was your first professional job? 

JTW: After graduating college and spending my second summer as one of the resident ensemble at Music Theatre of Wichita, I decided it was time to make the leap and follow my dreams to New York City.  After only five days in the city, opportunity knocked as there was an opening for the understudy in an Off Broadway show called Radio Gals.  They were in rehearsals at the time and due to open in just a few short weeks.  They were in need of a youngish gal who could sing, act, play the violin proficiently as well as a clarinet, saxophone, flute, bass, ukelele and the drum set.  I walked through their door and it was like Kismet.  I booked the job and earned my Equity card in the process.

What was you favorite role so far? 

JTW: Oh my gosh, this one is a hard one!  I have so many favorites for varying reasons.  I absolutely loved playing Marjorie Taylor opposite Malcolm Gets and Clayborne Elder in Classic Stage Company's production of Allegro.  That too was directed by John Doyle and the role earned me a Lortel nomination for Oustanding Featured Actress in a Musical.  I also was thrilled to recently revive my role as Paquette in New York City Opera's production of Candide, both productions directed by Hal Prince.  And, I had a 10 week run as the Song Woman in the extraordinary Broadway production of War Horse.  It was awe inspiring to share the stage with some of the most talented actors puppeteering and giving life to the horses Joey and Topthorn.  

What is your dream role? 

JTW: As it is a role I could only play in my dreams, I would love to reprise my role as Annie.  It was the role that set the ball rolling to where I am now, and I sincerely still get a lump in my throat when I sing "Tomorrow" to my daughter.  But, if I could play any role that would be a little more my current type, I would be thrilled to play Mother in Ragtime or Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera. 

What is your favorite thing about your role in Play Like A Winner? 

JTW: I love that I've been invited into the development stage of the show which allows me to help further create Kathy.  Also, Erik Johnke (book and lyrics) and David Wolfson (music) just wrote the most beautiful ballad called "My Only One" which is Kathy singing about Jenna, her only child.  As a mom of an only child, also a daughter, I can personally relate to the song. 

What is your favorite thing about the New York Musical Festival? 

JTW: Revivals are wonderful, but I think our business needs a lot more new and original pieces.  It is such a labor of love for the writers and it takes years to develop them.  New York Musical Festival is a wonderfully supportive environment for writers to breathe life into what they've only been able to imagine.  I also believe that a show isn't complete until the very last cast member is in place, and that would be the audience.  You never really know how successful a new piece can be until it is seen by an audience.  So to be given the outlet to continue to develop a piece while getting a glimpse of what it can be when fully realized is an invaluable resource, and that's what NYMF provides to writers and actors.  

Have you appeared in a show at the festival before?

JTW: I'm very excited to say that Play Like a Winner is my very first appearance in the NYMF.

Who are some actors you admire? 

JTW: I admire thoughtful actors who, to my eyes, put the storytelling first before anything else.  I also admire those who can effortlessly step into any number of characters without appearing to "act".  Examples of actors like that would be Tom Hanks, Judy Dench, Brian Cranston, Sally Fields, Angela Lansbury, and the late Alan Rickman and Robin Williams.

What advise would you give to someone who wants to do what you do? 

JTW: Don't give up and never ever stop learning.  If that fire and passion continues to burn inside, then keep going and keep believing in yourself no matter what is happening around you.  I've had a few times in my professional career where things just really didn't go the way I wanted them to.  Since then, I realized something, and it's a bit of a metaphor.  If you are standing still and try to jump from that standing position, you can't really get much height.  So what do you do?  You have to crouch down in order to give yourself a boost, and sometimes, the lower you go, the higher you can jump.  So what I'm saying is, when things are always at a constant, there's not far you can go.  It's the downs that give you the momentum to reach the heights.  Certainly, it takes a lot of effort to go from a crouch to a jump, but it can be an exhilarating trip on the way up and you might just reach higher than you ever have before.

We thank Jessica for taking the time to answer our questions. PLAY LIKE A WINNER will play at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 416 W. 42nd St., New York, NY  at the following times:

Tuesday July 25 8:00 PM
Thursday July 27 10:30 AM
Saturday July 29 1:00 PM
Sunday July 30 5:30 PM
Sunday July 30 9:00 PM

The show is recommended for ages 16 and up.

Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.

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