Interview: Janine LaManna Talks Starring in WOMAN OF THE YEAR at J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company

Woman of the Year runs through 23, 2023 at Theatre Row.

By: Apr. 19, 2023
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J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company is presenting the first NYC revival of WOMAN OF THE YEAR, now through April 23, 2023!

WOMAN OF THE YEAR is the Tony Award-winning adaptation of the classic film starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, featuring music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by Peter Stone.

Woman of the Year centers around Tess Harding (Janine LaManna), America's most famous TV reporter, and Sam Craig (John Leone), America's most famous cartoonist. When Tess goes on air to insult Sam's work, the two start a public feud.

BroadwayWorld spoke with Janine LaManna about starring in the first NYC revival of this show, her favorite on stage moment, and more.

This is the first New York City revival of this Tony Award-winning musical. How does it feel to be part of it?

Woman of the Year hasn't been on Broadway in over 40 years, so I am completely honored to be a part of this historic event. Being in any of Kander and Ebb's shows is so artistically fulfilling, that I jumped at the chance to tackle yet another of their iconic female leading ladies.

Have you ever seen the Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn film? How does it feel to put your spin on a character played by the iconic Katherine Hepburn?

I listened to the original cast album to initially hear the whole score. And I also heard some of Debbie Reynolds playing Tess, but I didn't want too many different interpretations in my head. I can't wait to watch Katherine Hepburn and all, when our show closes though! When you have a short rehearsal period, there is a fine line between honoring the original stars, and finding your own voice.

How has it been starring alongside John Leone and the rest of the wonderful company?

The cast and creatives have been so supportive and wonderful to work with every step of the way! John and I are having a blast with the witty banter and our cast is full of major talent with sharp comedic chops. And we are so compatible off stage, that it makes it all the more enjoyable to tell this story every night.

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Do you have a favorite onstage moment, or favorite song in Woman of the Year?

I'm having a hard time picking one. The songs are so rich with intellect and wit, but one that sticks out is a song that was cut from the Broadway production called "Who Would Have Dreamed." Mr Kander asked if it could be restored when he found out I was doing the show. I am so honored to sing it the way they wrote it, as it is one of her most vulnerable moments in the show.

What has it been like working with J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company?

An absolute pleasure! Rob Schneider, Artistic Director and co-founder, has directed thisShop Items From GREY HOUSE in BroadwayWorld's Theatre Shop! show with a steady and caring hand. Jim Jimirro, J2's Executive Producer and Co-Founder, gives such heart to his company and Lagniappe sessions after the performances. And Deidre Goodwin's choreography and Miles Plant's music direction are beyond brilliant. Our creative and technical teams couldn' t be easier to work with!

Do you have anything else you'd like to share?

We are getting such wonderful feedback from our audiences. Even original cast members from the show have said that it is like revisiting an old friend. It's so well written, it's hard not to fall in love with Kander and Ebb and Peter Stone all over again. And again. And again. The show may say Woman of the Year, but it's really about relationships and how we all prioritize what is most meaningful in life.


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