Interview: Theatre Life with Sophia Manicone

The local actress on making her Broadway debut in Parade and more.

By: Apr. 03, 2023
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Interview: Theatre Life with Sophia Manicone
Sophia Manicone.
Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Today's subject Sophia Manicone is currently living her theatre life on Broadway playing Iola Stover in the acclaimed revival of Parade. The show's limited engagement, which stars Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, runs through August sixth at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The production marks Sophia's Broadway debut after playing this same role at New York City Center a few months ago.

Sophia is eighteen years old and hails from Vienna, VA. As you will read, she knew at a very early age that she wanted to perform and how she never dreamed she'd be where she is now.

She has trained with some of the local best including Erin Driscoll Gardiner, David Zobell, Matt Strote, Broadway's Judy McLane and many more.

Locally Sophia has performed at Creative Cauldron in Ruthless! The Musical, and the World Premieres of Kaleidoscope and WITCH. You can hear her on the cast recordings of the latter two. Her two Creative Cauldron cabarets were entitled Just A Phase and Under The Mistletoe. Other local stage credits include Circle Mirror Transformation at Dark Horse Theatre Company, The Wizard of Oz at Next Stop Theatre Co. and A Christmas Story at Toby's Dinner Theatre.

Sophia's story is one of a local girl making her DMV fanbase very proud. Here is a young lady that knew from the beginning what she wanted, and her drive and passion have now landed her on Broadway. It goes to show that you never know and sometimes you just have to take that big step and GO FOR IT!!

Go on, go on, go on, go on and grab some tickets to Parade on Broadway. Jason Robert Brown's Tony Award winning score and Alfred Uhry's Tony Award winning book are back complete with our local star Sophia Manicone to help bring the very important story of Leo Frank to today's audiences.

Sophia Manicone is living her theatre life to the fullest and with many more years to go for this rising star "This Is Not Over Yet"!

At what age did you know that you wanted to perform professionally?

I tried out for my first Broadway show in 2nd grade (Annie). My parents thought I would chicken out. But I marched into that audition room and never looked back, which was very odd because I was actually a shy kid. I guess I knew for certain after I did my first professional show at the age of 11.

Interview: Theatre Life with Sophia Manicone
Alan Naylor, Sophia Manicone and Katie McManus in the 2016
Creative Cauldron production of Ruthless The Musical.
Photo by Keith Waters/KX Photgraphy.

What was your first professional performing job?

My first show was playing Tina Denmark in Ruthless at Creative Cauldron. That show was so much fun! Working with professional adult actors and creative people was just incredible. To this day, each person involved in that show is still a role model for me.

Your training has included working with such local greats as Erin Driscoll Gardiner, David Zobell, Matt Strote, and Broadway star Judy McLane. Can you please talk about how working with these folks and others helped you to prepare for your audition for Parade?

I have been so incredibly lucky to have wonderful coaches over the years. And along the way each of them has played an important part in my journey. I met Erin through one of my cast-mates in Ruthless and I've worked with her from age 11 until now. I still connect with her for zoom sessions! She's been an incredible role model and mentor - much more than a vocal coach. I miss seeing her in person! David and Matt from Signature and the Stage One and Conservatory programs were also fantastic. I learned so much from them about acting and I loved being part of a group of people my age who were as serious about theatre as I was. I met Judy during covid through a local organization in Northern Virginia called Creative Stages. They connected local theater kids with NY actors for training over zoom while all of us were stuck at home during the pandemic. We met in person and did a cabaret show in a beautiful old barn, turned theater. It was my first live performance after the pandemic and that was when I finally met her in person! She's a wonderful teacher and mentor and we are still in touch - she is busy working on Gypsy at the moment! Erin helped me prepare for my Parade call back and so did my coach Hunter Herdlicka and high school theater teachers Erich DiCenzo and Evie Korovesis. Hunter and I worked together over zoom and my high school theater teachers met up with me on a Saturday and ran through the materials. They each have given me great feedback and off I went to New York. I am so grateful for their help and support.

From the first audition to booking the role of Iola Stover in Parade, how long was the whole process? Did you have multiple callbacks?

It was pretty quick. I taped an audition the night before it was due because I hadn't planned on doing any shows during my senior year of high school due to the crazy college audition process. A couple of people reached out and encouraged me to submit. I kind of did it on a whim, not thinking much would come of it. I have submitted so many self-tapes over the years and it never amounted to anything. I'm not even sure anyone looked at them! But I submitted at the very end of August, maybe even early September, and about a week later was asked to come to New York for an in-person audition on September 14 with the show's director Michael Arden and composer Jason Robert Brown. I was so in awe of these people - I figured no matter what happened I was just thrilled to meet them and have the chance to audition for them. I got the call that I had booked the NYCC show 3 days later on September 17th. I will never forget that phone call!

Interview: Theatre Life with Sophia Manicone
L-R Ashlyn Maddox, Sophia Manicone and Emily Rose DeMartino
in the 2023 Broadway production of Parade.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

For those not familiar with Parade, can you please tell us a little something about the show and also something about your character?

The show is based on the true story of the wrongful conviction of Leo Frank and his ultimate lynching by an angry mob. The show takes place in Georgia in 1913 at a time when racial tension and antisemitism were running high. I play Iola Stover who worked at the pencil factory where a 13-year-old girl was murdered. I testify against Leo Frank the supervisor at the pencil factory - I tell a story that's not true - having been coached by the prosecutor (Hugh Dorsey) who had political aspirations and wanted to convict Leo because he was Jewish. I think Iola was so upset by her friend's murder that she was desperate to see someone be convicted of the crime.

When you were performing Parade at City Center, did you have any idea that the show would be transferring to Broadway?

I knew that Into the Woods had transferred from NYCC, but I didn't dream that Parade would transfer. By the time we were wrapping up the NYCC performance, people were starting to talk about it. It was just rumors at that point, as far as I knew! I didn't know it would happen until mid-December.

You get the call that the show is transferring and what was your first reaction?

At first, I thought yes yes yes! I was in shock and thrilled. It was surreal. And then I thought, how in the world am I going to finish high school and graduate on time with my class!? I had only ever spent two weeks away from home and all of a sudden, I was making plans to move to New York City a month later!

Interview: Theatre Life with Sophia Manicone
The company of the 2023 Broadway production of Parade.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

What would you say to someone that is on the fence about seeing Parade?

Definitely go see it! It's not too often that you will have the chance to see a true story, a timely story, told on stage. There's nothing like the power of live theater. The music is moving, and the voices will sweep you away, especially when the whole cast is singing. This show will leave you with so much to think about. See it with a friend so you can discuss it afterwards!

What have you enjoyed the most about performing in the DMV theatre community?

The DMV theater community is like family to me. I have been surrounded by these people and learned from them and felt their love and support since I was in elementary school. I even celebrated Thanksgiving with them one year when I was in a show and couldn't travel to NJ to be with my grandparents. They are so supportive. The number of people who came to see the NYCC show and who have already come to see the Broadway production is just incredible. I think there was one show during the NYCC run where there were 70 people from the DMV theater community in the audience. Our community in the DMV is really special.

What advice can you give to a performer getting discouraged about not being where they want to be in their career?

Just keep going. Focus on why you love theater - do it for the joy it brings you. And don't compare yourself to other people.

After Parade concludes its Broadway engagement, what is next for you both performance wise and beyond?

Well, I'm not sure yet. I am deciding on colleges and have to commit by May 1st. I'll probably be deferring for a year to stay in NYC so that I can train and audition and then I'll see what happens next! The only thing I know for certain is that nothing is predictable! I would never have dreamed I'd be here in New York at this time in my life - I thought I'd be dress shopping for senior prom! I've learned that I just have to enjoy the journey and see where it leads me next.

Special thanks to Amanda Meyer at DKCO&M for her assistance in coordinating this interview.

Ruthless the Musical! production photo provided by Creative Cauldron's Associate Artistic Director Matt Conner.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.