Interview with Tony nominee Rachel Bay Jones
Rachel Bay Jones is currently nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Heidi in the smash hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen at the Music Box Theatre.
Her previous Broadway credits include the 2013 revival of Pippin, the 2010 premiere of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the 2009 revival of Hair and she made her Broadway debut in the 1989 premiere of Meet Me in St. Louis. Other notable credits includ the National Tours of A Christmas Story The Musical, Fiddler on the Roof and Grand Hotel.
We caught up with Rachel to talk about Heidi's appeal in the groundbreaking modern musical...
Thomas Hayden Millward: It’s lovely to meet you, Rachel. My first question has to be: Has anybody given you a map yet?!
Rachel Bay Jones: (Laughs) I actually did get a map! It was from my favorite gift store here in the city – Domus. The ladies that run that store sent me a map when I got the Tony nomination. I was so excited!
THM: I love that! And I do love that opening number of “Anybody Have a Map?” And I love your character of Heidi. I feel that by adding her and Connor’s parents – Cynthia and Larry – to the mix, the writers have given the show a much broader, inter-generational appeal. Would you agree?
RBJ: I totally agree! And I feel like even though she’s the “Mom,” it’s not just the mothers that are connecting with her. What was important to us when we were developing her as a character was that she would stay really imperfect, but solidly strong in her love for her son. All of her mess-ups are something that we all relate to because nobody’s perfect! So, here’s this hot mess on stage (laughs) and she has nothing but love and that’s what we want.
THM: And goodness knows we’re all hot messes – or at least we know a few in our lives! Now, Dear Evan Hansen opened on Broadway in the autumn and, of course, there have been sooo many new musicals opening this spring. I’m guessing you probably haven’t had the chance to see any of them though because of your schedule?
RBJ: Not a single one! It’s so frustrating! I’m hoping everybody hangs on, so I can find a night off and see something. We’re all on the same schedule, so there’s hardly ever an opportunity.
THM: So, Dear Evan Hansen will be embarking on a National Tour next fall. Do you think there’s any chance of going international with a West End transfer?
RBJ: We’re all hoping for that! I’m not sure if it’s too American, but we are all hoping for it because it’s kind of a dream of mine to go over there.
THM: Have you ever worked in London?
RBJ: Never! I want to! We’re putting it out there.
THM: Well, this might well be the perfect opportunity, Rachel. Thank you so much. It’s been lovely to talk to you.