MH: What was the first thing that sparked your interest, or passion, in musical theatre?
JM: Well, my father is an actor – and he would direct sometimes, as well. And I remember, as a child, he directed a play at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, where we lived when I was a small child. There was one show I remember it was a comedy and there was a part where there were these bridges. And, at one point, an actor fell of the bridge and came up out of the water and had to spit out water. My father took me backstage, and I remember him showing me the cup of water and straw that the actor used for the scene. And it didn’t ruin the show for me – I was fascinated. It was the first time where I was aware that there was more than what you saw.
Later, when I was older, I liked shows – but I wasn’t a show kid. I never did shows until I was in high school. When I went to see (and I saw it a few times) the original cast of Dreamgirls on Broadway, it was the first time – for whatever reason – that I was suddenly aware that somebody made that happen. That there was a director, and the transitions in the show were out of this world, and I never understood that before. Even though my father had been a director, somehow my brain had not made that connection until that show.
And the first show I ever did, I was in the ensemble of A Chorus of Applause (it was a c, old show), but I loved it.
MH: What’s your favorite cast album to listen too?
JM: Dreamgirls. I don’t listen to cast albums that much. However, more recently I LOVE In the Heights. That’s one of the few that’s on my iPod.
MH: If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?
JM: That’s such a huge question. Today, I would say Alli Mauzey because I get to sing two duets with her tonight – and that’s pretty neat!
I got to sing with Josh Groban, and that was pretty great. But he’s off the list, because I’ve already performed with him.
MH: Chess, right?
It’s a hard question because I’m only able to think of people I have already sung with. Anyone who would ask me – honestly. It’s such a joy to get to sing with someone new. I don’t have any particular person in mind. If anyone asked, I’d do it.
MH: Is there a dream role you haven’t played yet?
JM: Yes, one that hasn’t been written yet. In terms of roles that already exist, my time has probably passed for this, but I’d love to play Dot in Sunday in the Park with George. Also, I’d like to play Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd.
MH: You played Florence in the Actor’s Fund Benefit concert of Chess, with Josh Groban, Adam Pascal, and Sutton Foster. As well, as Broadway Voice veteran Norm Lewis. What was your experience like with that performance?
JM: It was fast. I was actually supposed to play Svetlana (the Russian’s wife), played by Sutton Foster. And someone else entirely was in line to play Florence, but she dropped out just a few weeks before the performance. So, they called and asked if I would bump up and take the role. So, I was very overwhelmed. Those concerts are always very fast and furious, so you have to buckle your seat-belts and just go with it.
That was what was so incredible about Josh Groban. He stepped into our world, a world that we were used to, and he just went with it. And he’s so nice and he is fabulous!
So, it helps when you are surrounded by people who are so talented. You go, “I want to try to be as good as they are.” Plus, everyone holds each other up.
MH: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Or a piece of advice you would give to an aspiring actor?
JM: I would say, the one piece of advice that I remind myself of all the time: in this business, it is good to be reminded that everyone is on their own path. So, stay in your lane. It is easy to compare and feel “How come she’s working all the time? Or getting all these roles?”
You have to get out of the mindset of “I want that. And I wish it was me instead of her.” That’s their journey that they have to take. You have to remember that your job in everyone else’s journey is to support them. It’s okay to take a minute and be disappointed, and then get over it. Use that energy to support, because it is better.
Basically, be kind. You don’t know who they are or what they will become, and you might need them one day. It’s like you’re hiking a trail. Say “Hi!” to them as you walk by. You may get further up the trail and roll your ankle later. You’ll need their help, and they’ll say, “You didn’t say ‘Hi!’ to me on the trail.” That’s the biggest piece of advice I can give.