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Podcast Exclusive: THE THEATRE PODCAST WITH ALAN SEALES Presents Jeanna De Waal

Jeanna de Waal originated the title role of Diana, Princess of Wales in Diana at La Jolla Playhouse and at the New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theatre reading.

This Broadway performer, who made her debut on the West End and followed her gut to NYC, is spending time during the shutdown spreading the benefits of theater education, while patiently waiting to bring it all full circle with a notorious bit of England on the New York stage in Diana.

Jeanna de Waal originated the title role of Diana, Princess of Wales in Diana at La Jolla Playhouse and at the New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theatre reading at Vassar College. Her previous Broadway credits include starring as Lauren in Kinky Boots and Heather in American Idiot. Jeanna originated the role of Dawn in the A.R.T. production of Waitress by Sara Bareilles, and the role of Mary Barrie in the A.R.T. production of Finding Neverland, both directed by Diane Paulus. She has previously appeared off-Broadway in Orwell in America at 59E59 Theatre, and played Chris Hargensen in MCC Theatre's reimagined production of Broadway's Carrie. Other notable credits include her West End debut in the Queen musical We Will Rock You, Glinda in the National Tour of Wicked and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show at The Old Globe. In addition to the stage, she can be seen in the recurring role of Sophia in the Netflix/Marvel series Iron Fist. Jeanna is also an amazing entrepreneur, and is the founder Broadway Weekends, the first theater camp for adults led by Broadway performers. Amid the COVID-19 shutdown, her company pivoted and became Broadway Weekends At Home. They continue to host theater classes virtually for people of all ages.

While she was born in Germany, Jeanna lived all over England growing up, before moving to New York. When Jeanna was 11 years old, she began attending Arts Educational School, Tring Park, a performing arts boarding school. While she shares that the first year was hard, she credits the experience for toughening her skin, and eventually making her solo move to America at age 22 much easier. Jeanna and her sister were obsessed with the theater industry as kids, her sister even eventually joining her at school. But Jeanna never grew up thinking she would be a professional actress - even when she was 19 and 20 years old studying drama at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts.

Nonetheless, performing was surely in the stars for Jeanna. Her first professional job out of school was the Queen musical We Will Rock You on the West End. During this production, Jeanna became friends with cast members of Broadway's Hair, in London at the time, and simultaneously she finally received her green card. Suddenly she knew it was time to go to New York. Jeanna shares with us the journey that took her from attending open calls in Times Square, landing her her Broadway debut role in American Idiot, to working consistently from the time she was 21 to 27 years old. Jeanna later opens up about leaving Kinky Boots behind, and her commitment to booking a show in which she could originate a lead role. It was during this period of down time, when she was without a schedule and a "purpose", that she was inspired to found Broadway Weekends with her sister. These days, the classroom may be virtual (temporarily), but until Diana is able to open on Broadway next year, Jeanna is getting a kick out of bringing to others all the things she gained from her own education in theater - friendships, freedom to trust your body, self-confidence, camaraderie, and more.

In this episode, they talk about:

  • The inspiration and motivation for founding Broadway Weekends
  • Growing up in England and attending a performing arts boarding school
  • What attracted her to theater in the first place
  • Her journey from performing on the West End, to her Broadway debut
  • Re-discovering her purpose and self worth after leaving Kinky Boots
  • The spiritual nature of theater
  • Her journey so far with Diana, the new musical

What is The Theatre Podcast?

A weekly release of intimate, personal conversations with theatre's biggest talents showcasing what makes them human. Featuring stars of the stage and the producers, stage managers, directors, press and marketing agents, theatre owners and other creatives of this industry. Hosted by Alan Seales. Music by Jukebox the Ghost.

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The Theatre Podcast is a proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network.

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