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Broadway Q&A: Kathryn Gallagher of ‘Jagged Little Pill’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

“Her music is so honest, truthful and everything I've ever aspired to.”

Jagged Little Pill is a daring new musical that was inspired by Alanis Morissette’s seminal album of the same title. The show centers around a suburban community and family who appear to be Instagram perfect. But the reality is much, much different. In the show, the characters are challenged to face what’s really going on beneath the surface and how to move forward, despite the pain. This is all punctuated with Morissette’s hits, including “Head Over Feet,” “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,”“Hand In My Pocket” and “Ironic.” The show also contains brand-new songs that Morissette wrote specifically for the show. The production has a dream creative team, featuring direction by Diane Paulus (WaitressPippin), story by Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully), movement direction and choreography by Beyoncé collaborator Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and musical supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, American Idiot). Gallagher also stars as Annika on the Netflix hit show You. She made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening. A prolific songwriter, Gallagher’s music has appeared in Younger, Covert Affairs and Thanks For Sharing.

Kathryn Gallagher plays Bella Fox in ‘Jagged Little Pill’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Kathryn Gallagher plays Bella Fox in ‘Jagged Little Pill’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

How did you first learn about Jagged Little Pill?
Kathryn Gallagher: In 2013 I sent my parents an email with a link to a Billboard article that said Alanis Morissette and Tom Kitt were working on a new musical, Jagged Little Pill. I said, "I need to do this." Alanis has been one of my idols since I was a kid. As a songwriter myself, I have been listening to Jagged Little Pill since I was five years old. I've studied her. I wrote a paper on her in college. Her music is so honest, truthful and everything I've ever aspired to. I thought, “Ok, game over.” And we have Diablo Cody’s book and Diane Paulus is directing. It’s amazing.

Tell us about your character Bella Fox.
KG: I play a 17-year-old who is creative and runs the student poetry journal. Playing Bella Fox has taught me about bravery and what happens when you speak your truth: you find your people. I feel so blessed to play such a strong, brave young woman. My character has a strength that I find to be so deeply inspiring. As an actor, I learn from her every night. And I take what she teaches me into my own life and out into the world.

This show really speaks to what it's like growing up in 2019, and what the world is like. It’s about the ways in which women are being heard for the first time. This show is doing something really thrilling, and is telling a story in a really honest and beautiful way.

Can you talk about making your Broadway debut in Spring Awakening?
KG: I was doing music in Los Angeles when my friend Ben Platt, called and said “my friend Michael is doing this production of Spring Awakening in LA. He is looking for people. I played him your music and he's going to call.” I sat down with Michael (Arden), who is now a two-time Tony nominee, and we talked about the show. We started that show in a 99-seat theater in Los Angeles. A year to the day after opening in LA, we opened on Broadway.

And you opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the same theater, where your dad, Peter Gallagher, did Noises Off back in 2001and 2002.
I remember my dad took me to a “Take Your Daughter To Work Day” when I was eight years old. My dad was doing Noises Off on Broadway and he brought me to the theater. It was really beautiful. He sat me down on a seat on house left on the aisle in the last row. He had an entrance from the house and would hang out with me before his scene. And then, around 13 years later, I did Spring Awakening on Broadway. My dad had just landed from a flight, came into the theater and caught the very end of the show. He stood behind that seat watching. I saw him in the audience and began crying my eyes out. It was really special.

What is a perfect day like for you when you're not working.
It definitely involves watching a lot of Law and Order: SVU. Mariska Hargitay is my idol. She knows it. She is the most amazing woman. And Law and Order is the most amazing show. My perfect day also includes a vegan food delivery, maybe baking a cake, resting my mind, taking my dog for a very long walk and talking to my friends.

What career guidance has your father given you?
KG: The biggest gift he has ever given me is reminding me that this is a job. You have to bring the best of your work every day. There are no shortcuts. There are no delusions of grandeur. He always reminds me why we're doing this: You're telling a story.

For more of the best of Broadway and beyond, check out our complete list of current Broadway shows.

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