BWW Interview: Teal Wicks in THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO at TRT
Two River Theater's production of The Ballad of Little Jo, a musical by Mike Reid, Sarah Schlesinger, and John Dias will be on the Red Bank Stage from June 3rd to June 25th. Dias, the theater's Artistic Director, is also making his Two River directorial debut with this production. The Ballad of Little Jo is based on the film of the same name by Maggie Greenwald. The choreography is by Marc Kimelman, with music direction and dance and incidental arrangements by John O'Neill.
Set in the late 19th century, The Ballad of Little Jo is inspired by a real-life story of American optimism. Infused with a score that evokes the folk ballads of pioneer America, it tells the story of a woman named Josephine Monaghan. Originally from Boston, Josephine lived in a tough Idaho mining town for nearly 20 years, disguised as a man called "Jo." Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Teal Wicks who plays Josephine Monaghan in the show.
Teal Wicks most recently appeared as 'Mary Barrie' in the Broadway hit Finding Neverland. She also recently starred as 'Emma Carew' in the 2013 Broadway revival of Jekyll & Hyde. Teal burst onto the musical theater scene in 2008 when she landed the role of Elphaba in the Los Angeles company of Wicked, a role she reprised in the San Francisco company before making the leap to Broadway in 2011. New York Theater credits include: The Blue Flower at Second Stage, Stairway to Paradise at City Center Encores! and the world premiere of Turandot: The Rumble for the Ring at the Bay Street Theater. Teal received the 2012 BroadwayWorld Connecticut Award for Best Actress in a Musical and nomination for a Connecticut Circle Award for her portrayal of 'Julie Jordan' in the Goodspeed Opera House's production of Carousel. Teal has also appeared on the CBS hit shows "The Good Wife" and "Elementary," and "Chicago Justice" on NBC.
What are your earliest memories of performing?
Well, there is a well known story in family about me singing "Tomorrow" from Annie anywhere and everywhere when I was really young, including getting up on stage with the robot characters at Chuck-e-Cheese and just belting it out. I think my earliest memories of performing in public were from Elementary school... singing "Putting on the Ritz" in choir where we had sequined vest and matching top hats with what seemed like major hat choreography... or my epic acting moment with my dramatic monologue as Calpurnia in our 5th grade production of Julius Cesar, I tried so hard to get the waterworks going and milk those few precious lines.
Who are the mentors that have had a great influence on your career?
I would definitely say my parents had a great influence on my career. They loved the arts, all aspects of it, and were determined to expose me to all the different styles of music, theater, and visual; whatever they were excited about they would bring me along to see it. There is a great local art culture in Sacramento where I grew up, so my parents would take me to all the museums, art and music festivals, the Sacramento ballet, the Broadway touring shows, Music Circus, the smaller local theaters, etc. And I loved it all, but above all I fell in love with theater. Both of parents were already supporters of the arts and they instilled that passion for it in me at an early age. So when I told them I wanted to perform, they fully embraced it and did everything they could to support me in that journey.
Tell us a little about the cast/crew of The Ballad of Little Jo.
I'm slightly obsessed with everyone involved in this production. It's a group of really smart and open hearted artists that are all genuinely excited about telling this story. And they're all just super nice and blast to play with. John Dias has created such a creative and collaborative environment to work in. Our writers Mike and Sarah Love having an open dialogue about everything thing in the piece. As an artist I am feeling very inspired and fulfilled on a daily basis with these people. I know I am being so cheesy, but it's true and I feel very lucky to be a part of this troupe.
What have been some of the challenges of your role as Jo.
There are a lot of challenges in bringing Jo to life, but thats what drew me to the role. I spend most of the show playing a woman who lives 18 years of her life as a man, so already there are tons of layers and a specific physical life to work on. I'm trying really hard to blend in with the guys and keep my voice healthy for the different octaves I have to speak and sing in. Jo's story is pretty epic filled with heartbreak, traumatic events, and hard edged determination. So we've been trying to make sure we don't lose her(his) optimism, warmth and humor throughout. It also feels so poignant right now to be telling the story of a woman who understand the only way she can survive in this society is to live as a man
How do you like working at TRT?
I know I'm just gushing about everything, but it is really a great place to work. The theater is beautiful, the staff is fun and kick butt at their jobs, Red Bank is a super cute town, and I get to live right on the river with stunning views to wake up to every morning. I feel like I'm at adult theater camp and I love it!
What would you like metro audiences to know about the show?
That it's wonderful and they should come see it... haha!
Your plans for the future?
Other than getting in some beach time over the next month, I'm just trying to be fully present in the world of The Ballad of Little Jo.
The Ballad of Little Jo will be performed at Two River Theater from June 3rd to June 25th. The theater is located at 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, New Jersey 07701. For more information, call them at 732.345.1400 and visit their web site at http://www.tworivertheater.org/.
Photo Credit: Amanda Crommett