In the second of a series of interviews with the cast of the new Tom Kitt/Brian Yorkey musical If/Then, which is about to open at The National Theatre on November 5th, Jenn Colella introduces us to the character she plays, and the song that have been written for her character.
Joel: How did you first get involved in If Then, and why did you want to be part of this production?
Jenn: Tom Kitt is a dear friend of mine and we’ve collaborated on several projects together over the years. He approached me about doing a reading of If/Then about three years ago. I wanted to be a part of this production because, quite simply, I would follow Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey to the ends of the earth. They are geniuses and together they create magic.
Introduce us to your character and how you relate to her.
The character I portray, Anne, is a sassy, fun-loving girl who is in a romantic relationship with Kate (LaChanze’s character). She’s madly in love with Kate but she has some fear about taking the relationship to the next level and tying the knot.
From Anne’s point of view, What is If/Then about?
If/Then is about the incredible task of constantly trying to choose love over fear.
What song has Tom and Brian written for you and what do we learn about your character when you sing this song?
Tom and Brian have written a beautiful duet for LaChanze and me in the second act that illuminates the power of choosing love over fear.
How would you describe Tom and Brian’s score and lyrics?
Tom Kitt’s score soars into melodies that your heart thinks you’ve always known, even if it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Then, the music takes you someplace totally new, sweeping into surprising twists and turns that sound unlike anything else that’s come before. Brian Yorkey’s lyrics are witty, sharp, and shockingly real. It’s truly a privilege to sing lyrics that feel exactly like words a real person would say in those given circumstances. He’s the master at that particular skill.
What are some of the challenges you have had and are facing in rehearsals, and how has Director Michael Greif helped you to solve these challenges?
If/Then is smart and complex while being totally accessible. We have no road map to guide us. Michael Greif has done a tremendous job of allowing us all to create that map together, and it feels more and more successful with each day of rehearsal.
When did you begin rehearsals and what has surprised you or impressed you the most during rehearsals?
We began rehearsing in NYC on September 9th. I am deeply impressed by the amount of talent in the room. The creative team is top-notch. I trust every single person to do their job and do it well. The cast is stellar. I’m not referring only to the on-stage cast, either. Our swings and standbys are astounding. With little to no rehearsal at all, they are ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. When they are called upon to do so, they don’t just step in, they shine. It’s awesome to witness the incredibly high levels of skill and professionalism employed by each member of our If/Then family every single day.
What other roles that you have played before remind you of your character and other characters in the show that you are not playing?
What’s interesting about my character Anne is that she is very much like me in real life. I’ve never played a character so close to home. It’s fun and it’s also a unique challenge. I feel very vulnerable and exposed. It’s good for me.
Why do you think The National Theatre and DC are a great venue and theatre town to premiere If/Then?
I think The National Theatre and DC are a great venue to present If/Then because we are certain to get an honest response from a smart, savvy audience, which is precisely what we need at this point. It’s especially exciting to be debuting this forward-thinking piece in our nation’s capital as this country continues to band together to support our LGBT community.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing If/Then at The National Theatre?
Obviously, I want our audience to feel a sense of deep connection with the characters and the beautiful, emotional ride that is If/Then. It is also my hope that they will take with them a sense of gratitude for having experienced a theatrical piece that is smart, evocative, and truly original.
If/Then plays from November 5th to December 8, 2013 at The National Theatre – 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (800) 514-3849 (ETIX), or visit the Box Office, or purchase them online.
Introducing the Cast of ‘If/Then’ at The National Theatre-Part 3: James Snyder by Joel Markowitz.
Introducing the Cast of ‘If/Then’ at The National Theatre-Part 2: Jenn Colella by Joel Markowitz
Jenn Colella’s website.
Introducing the Cast of ‘If/Then’ at The National Theatre–Part 1: Jason Tam by Joel Markowitz.
Jason Tam’s website.
New Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s ‘If/Then’ with Idina Menzel to Stop at National Theatre on DCMetroTheaterArts.
‘If/Then’ Video Released-Begins at National Theatre on November 5th on DCMetroTheaterArts.
DCMetroTheaterArts coverage of If/Then.