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Broadway Q&A: Elizabeth Stanley of ‘Jagged Little Pill’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


“Because Alanis’ lyrics are so deep and intelligent, I found them very easy to incorporate into a play.”

Elizabeth Stanley stars as Mary Jane, a seemingly perfect stay-at-home suburban mom in Jagged Little Pill. But the reality is altogether something else. This highly anticipated new musical is inspired by Alanis Morissette’s seminal record of the same name. The show features Morissette’s beloved hits including “Head Over Feet,” “Ironic,” “Hand In My Pocket,” “You Oughta Know,” along with brand-new songs written for the show by Morissette. In addition to songs by Morissette and Glen Ballard, the show includes a dream creative team including director Diane Paulus (WaitressPippin), story by Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully), choreography by frequent Beyoncé collaborator Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, American Idiot). Stanley previously appeared on Broadway in the revival of On the TownMillion Dollar QuartetCry-Baby and the John Doyle-directed revival of Company

Elizabeth Stanley stars as Mary Jane Healy in ‘Jagged Little Pill’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Elizabeth Stanley stars as Mary Jane Healy in ‘Jagged Little Pill’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

How did you first hear about Jagged Little Pill?
Elizabeth Stanley: My audition was a self-tape, because the creative team is in high demand. They were scattered about. So my team said, “Here's your audition.” I thought, “I love this. This is something I want.”

What was it about the show that made you want to be in it?
ES: It was the combination of people on the creative team. I love Alanis Morissette. I am such of fan of Diablo Cody. I've been wanting to work with Diane Paulus for a long time. I didn't know the choreographer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, at the time. But he is extraordinary. I had wanted to work with Tom Kitt forever. So I thought, “Oh, please God.”

What can you tell us about your character, Mary Jane Healy?
ES: She is kind of a super mom, who really is successful at pulling off the Instagram-perfect image to everyone. But what I love about her is that Diablo and Alanis have both created this character who is very human. We all know that for every person who seems perfect, they have a whole real side of their life. And as an actress, it is really fun to get to play such a human character.

When did you discover Alanis’ work?
ES: I was in high school when Jagged Little Pill came out. It has been with me for a while.
As an actress, the music is really actable. Sometimes songs that are a part of pop culture are songs I love, but they are hard to get deep into as an actress. But because Alanis’ lyrics are so deep and intelligent, I found them very easy to incorporate into a play.

Can you talk about the first Broadway show you ever saw?
ES: One of the first Broadway shows I ever saw was the Annie Get Your Gun revival with Bernadette Peters. I didn't come to New York until I was in college. So I was late seeing my first Broadway show. That was pretty special, because Bernadette is such a star. I remember being in awe, because she's someone who I had idolized, studied and adored, starting with the movie Annie.

What was your Broadway debut?
ES:
I played April in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company in 2006 from John Doyle. We all played instruments. I feel so grateful that that was my debut. Your Broadway debut is really special, no matter how it happens, in whatever show you're in. Whether you’re replacing or in a new show. But I didn't even realize how special that was when it was happening.

At that point, I had lived in New York for several years. Because we also had to play instruments during the show, it was a drawn-out process. Even after we did it out-of-town in Cincinnati, I was still a very poor actor. I would work at my temp job all day, and then come home and practice my instruments and sing.

If someone were to ask why they should see Jagged Little Pill, what would you say?
ES:
The show is very of the moment and contemporary. It speaks to the world that we are living in now. You will leave feeling revived, uplifted and with a sense of hope and open-heartedness about humanity.

***
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