On August 12, Laura Osnes presented her Bandstand co-star and friend Corey Cott with his official caricature at Sardi’s, and remembering the moment she found out she’d be headlining the swing-scored, 1940s tuner alongside her friend brings joy to her heart. “[Director/choreographer] Andy Blankenbuehler called me up one day,” she said to the guests at the Sardi’s ceremony “and said ‘What do you think about Corey Cott?’ and I thought ‘Hallelujah!’”
Osnes sings the final word, in a reference to a line from the musical. She collaborated with Cott on his auditions for the show, working with him through the process. “Just to get to see him through that whole journey and now getting to see him lead this whole company so beautifully is really fulfilling,” she says.
Osnes and Cott have been friends for years. She remembers meeting him for the first time right before he joined Newsies and made his Broadway debut as Jack Kelly. They watched the show from the mezzanine, and Osnes recalls spending a lot of time with the cast as a self-proclaimed “fansie.”
However, Cott has a different memory of their first meeting. When he was a freshman in college at Carnegie Mellon, he visited New York, and a friend of his knew Osnes, who was in Grease at the time, and suggested they stop by her apartment for a visit. “I knew who Laura was obviously and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, okay!’” Cott remembers. “And we went over to her apartment, and she was so kind and served us hot chocolate, and it was super hot. And I was nervous so I spilled it all over her apartment and all over my pants.”
Now, that’s a moment they laugh about, and they both immediately effuse how they’re fans of the other, and having that friendship foundation has been helpful as they’ve developed and performed the characters of Donny Novitski and Julia Trojan. Donny is a World War II vet who comes back home with the promise to check in on his fallen comrade’s wife, Julia. The layered character relationship requires a certain closeness for the actors.
“Having known each other for so long and wondering if you’ll ever work together and it’s just the best when you work with your friends,” Osnes says. “There’s an immediate level of trust there.”
“It’s like a dream come true to work with someone that you trust and care about as a friend,” Cott says.
And it’s not your typical musical theater romance, Osnes points out. “It’s not like, oh love at first sight, the prince and the princess,” she says, as the characters harbor a secret between them: Donny witnessed Julia’s husband killed in battle. “The audiences knows that there’s something that’s connecting us but also hindering us from ever being in love or being in love without complications,” says Cott. “There’s so much baggage that we have to get through.”
Cott says the musical is more like a play in its construction, and he and Osnes relish partnering in the scenes, which feel different night after night. “In the past I feel like I’ve been known for my consistency and in this show, it feels like for the first time I’m able to see it differently every day, which is really cool,” she says. “And that’s probably a lot because of you.”
And real-life war wives and vets have identified with the actors portrayal of these flawed characters’ story. Osnes mentions a night when members of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), a nonprofit for people who have survived their partners being killed at war or due to PTSD, and a woman came up to Osnes after to share that after her fiancé died, she started dating the best friend, but it was too hard and they broke up. “That’s hard too with our show,” Osnes says. “We played around with versions where it maybe didn’t work out between them.”
“There’s a world where our show could have had us not ending up together in some way,” Cott adds. “There is a tradition of musical theater and storytelling that we wanted to adhere to. Not even that these people are okay at the end of the show—that’s not what it is—but that there is some sense of like joy and being able to move on.”
Cott and Osnes have enjoyed cultivating their friendship while co-starring int he show, and while the show closes on Sunday, they plan to stay close. The stars had semi-regular double dates on their days off with Cott’s wife Meg (and son Elliott) and Osnes’s husband Nathan, and they plan to continue the tradition after the curtain falls. They want to work together again and will always carry the lessons they learned from each other.
“Corey’s dedication to his craft puts mine to shame,” Osnes says, noting that Cott learned to play the piano for the part. “He’s always challenging himself and those around him to be better, go deeper, never settle. I seriously have never seen a co-star or cast mate pour themselves into a role and go for it the way Corey did with Donny. It’s utterly inspiring.”
Cott, for one, is inspired by Osnes’s attitude and demeanor and hopes he can absorb an ounce of her genuine nature. “Beyond being one of the most talented people I have ever met, Laura somehow finds a way to stay positive at all times—especially offstage,” he says. “I hope I can snag 5 percent of her positivity as I move on in my career.”
“The Onstage Lovers Game”
We asked Laura and Corey to answer the following questions for themselves and for the other person. Let’s see how well they did.
What is your go-to drink?
Corey: Depends when – but Scotch
Corey for Laura: Wine
Laura: Lemonade (a margarita if it’s Sunday!)
Laura for Corey: Bourbon
How do you take your coffee?
Corey for Laura: Little milk
Laura: A splash of soy
Laura for Corey: Black (because of Whole 30)
What is your favorite food?
Corey: A great steak
Corey for Laura: Mexican. Chips. Guac. Tacos.
Laura: Mexican/Chips + salsa!
Laura for Corey: Pizza
What is your go-to outfit in a pinch?
Corey: Jeans. Hat. T-shirt.
Corey for Laura: A sensible dress
Laura: Summer dress
Laura for Corey: Jeans and a button down
What is your dream role?
Corey: Floyd Collins or Billy Bigelow
Corey for Laura: Maria in Sound of Music
Laura: Marian in The Music Man
Laura for Corey: Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar
Corey: Mediterranean yacht cruise
Corey for Laura: Isolated island with her hubby
Laura for Corey: Italy
Dream dinner date?
Corey: Pizza on the couch with my wife
Corey for Laura: Fancy tacos after performing somewhere fancy and then a fancy Instagram picture of her fro-yo
Laura: Beach, sunset, with Nate!
Laura for Corey: Grillin’ on the deck with Meg and Elliot
Styled by Tony Marion and Kayla Foster
Hair and Make-Up by Erin Acker
Ariana DeBose is an open book. Whether you’re a family member or a fan at the stage door, she’ll make you feel like you’re old friends with a shared history. In the last four years, she’s starred in four Broadway shows—Pippin, Motown: The Musical, Hamilton, and now, A Bronx Tale—and she’s showing no signs of stopping any time soon. We chatted with the star after our photoshoot to find out what makes her tick.
What’s the best thing about New York?
Its diversity—which manifests in everything! (FOOD)
Worst thing about New York?
The smell … and the MTA
One place you’ve never been you want to?
Favorite part of live theatre?
Favorite actor of all time?
Oh man—I couldn’t pick just one. Jan Maxwell, Judith, Hattie McDaniel, Meryl, Megan M, Morgan Freeman….
If you weren’t an actor what would you be?
Go to shower song?
Anything Phil Collins.
What’s your favorite holiday?
If you could invite anyone who would you invite to your holiday dinner?
Lady Diana Spencer
Favorite musical of all time?
Mamma Mia!—go ahead judge me.
If you were to write a musical what would it be about?
I can’t tell you that—what happens when I write it??!!??
Who is the most influential female in your life?
That’s quite the question. There are many…many of whom lead by example.
What’s one thing you wish you knew in high school?
I wish I’d known that $ was a lie.
What’s one thing you want yourself to remember 10 years from now?
“The best is yet to come”
Name three things in your bag you can’t live without?
Gum, credit card and a contact case.
Biggest fashion misstep?
My bra is always peeking out.
Favorite thing in your closet?
My Urban Outfitter overalls
Zoe Kravits & Diane Keaton
What’s the one thing that makes you happiest?
Dancing with someone I love.
Whats your favorite sound?
If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be?
I actually like silence so….
When do you feel most beautiful?
…. in nature
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Sadly, check my phone.
What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Say “Thank you”
What’s the title of your future memoir?
Divine Choreography: The Ariana DeBose Story. (Original, I know)
Styled by Kayla Foster
Hair & Make-Up by Austin Thornton
Clothing by Layana Aguilar and Reiss
Pessimism is an easy route to take in today’s world, but Celia Keenan-Bolger still counts herself an optimist. However, she enjoyed spending time in the shoes of someone with a darker view of the world, as Bee, a young woman who believes she can jump through space and time with the click of a button, in Bruce Norris’s A Parallelogram, which recently was at Second Stage Theater.
Sitting in the hair and makeup chair before her photoshoot, a few days before the play closed, Keenan-Bolger reflects on the show, as well as on her role as both a mother and an activist. “Bruce makes a case for being kind and he makes a case for being honest,” says Keenan-Bolger. “And for someone who generally leads with kindness, it’s been really interesting to see how being honest—if you’re also kind—can be an act of generosity in a way that I didn’t necessarily consider before. I thought particularly right now, at a time when it feels like there are a lot of worldviews, it’s the time to live in somebody else’s skin.”
One of the worldviews she’s particularly focused on cultivating is that of her 2-year-old son. Coming from Detroit, Keenan-Bolger doesn’t crave a creek and a backyard the way her husband does but still feels like New York City was something to work up to. “To think that he’s going to grow up with all of this access and all of this understanding is a weird slant of the world that I’m like, ‘This isn’t what the world is really like,’” she says. “And he’ll be like, ‘This is my only reference point.’ So that will be interesting.”
Keenan-Bolger believes exposing her son to political rallies, as well as culture and art are key experiences. “I feel like we go to a fair amount of protests,” she says. “And that’s a really important part of being a mother right now, especially to a white boy who is born into privilege. I think now more than ever we are having good discussions about what that actually means. Also trying to make sure that he understands from a young age what times we are living in and how that is going to affect his life and what part he can play in making a difference.”
The day before this interview, Keenan-Bolger and her son were at Grand Army Plaza before a performance to join the rally for Peace and Sanity. She was resisting white supremacy, the patriarchy, and hate while wearing her ‘The Future is Female’ shirt, and her son was dressed in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ onesie. “Clothes are becoming part of the resistance in a way that I feel like they weren’t necessarily before,” she says. “Obviously, it’s not enough to just buy the t-shirt but I do think when I look through my drawers these days I have a lot of political shirts. I have a lot of Ruth Ginsberg and Hillary and shirts that have political messages. If I’m walking through the streets these days I guess it is important that part of what I am trying to project into the world is political. Clothes are a way of doing that.”
Styled by Kayla Foster
Hair & Makeup by Austin Thornton
Clothing by Layana Aguilar & Nina shoes
If you had asked 18-year-old Alistair Brammer what his dream role would be, he’d have responded: Chris in Miss Saigon. And Brammer is just as excited as his younger self to be making his Broadway debut as the American G.I. in the musical at the Broadway Theatre.
However, when he found out he landed the role, first for the London production, he had to contain that excitement. Brammer was doing a matinee of War Horse on the West End, and he was in a group dressing room when his agent called. So Brammer did the only thing he could think to do—he went to the green room and just started “cleaning like Monica in Friends.” “I didn’t know how to get rid of the energy, I was ecstatic,” Brammer says. “It was genuinely a dream come true. When I was 18, that would be the pinnacle of my career, so now I don’t know what to do!”
Though “pinnacle” is a strong word for someone who certainly has a long career ahead of him. Enjoying a cup of black coffee at the secluded St Kilda in midtown, he’s dressed down in a grey t-shirt and flat-brimmed cap. Brammer’s blue eyes are inviting and his charm is irresistible, but he’s completely off the market.
His first wedding anniversary is coming up on August 28, and he talks about his wife Rachel as if the honeymoon never stopped. The couple met when Brammer was in War Horse, where she was the in-house physiotherapist. “She had a boyfriend for most of the time, so it was a no-go area,” Brammer recalls. “Then they broke up, and at the Christmas party I gave her a kiss, and the rest is history. We got engaged after eight months, and in just under two years we got married.”
And Brammer found out that he was going to Broadway with Miss Saigon when he was on his honeymoon. He had sent his agent an email because he was concerned about getting work lined up when he returned, and his agent hinted that there was something on the table that would calm his fears.
Brammer and his wife arrived in New York in January, his first time to the city, and their first night in the city, they just walked around Times Square. “We just spent the first week walking around to libraries. We went to the park. We went uptown and figured out which restaurants to go to,” he says. “We like Yum Yum Bangkok on 46th—great lunch deals. We’re basically on the hunt for New York’s best lunch deals! We’ve just been eating everywhere. There’s a great place that we like called Tea and Sympathy, which is downtown. It’s an English restaurant.”
Rachel is on a spouse visa while Brammer is starring in Saigon so she’s not allowed to work, but Brammer has most of his days off so the two of them spend their days together. “I have three meals a day with my wife. Who else gets to do that?” Brammer says. “And, it’s my new wife. It would be different if we were 12 years in and a bit sick of each other! We’re just loving spending all of our time together.”
The new Broadway star is getting a three-year working visa to do more performing in the States, but he says that the Brammer family is focused on Rachel after he wraps his stint in Saigon. “I am going to take a little bit of a backseat from theatre for a while, just because I’ve done it so much,” he explains. “I’ll probably do pilot season over here, and I’ve got a manager in L.A., so that’s good. But then we can move back and wait until the next thing comes in. It will be some time to put Rachel first and let her work.”
Plus, he’s got other dreams aside from Broadway. “I’ve got a real longing to be a writer—the problem is I don’t write anything!” he says with a laugh. “Romantically, I want to be one. I actually want to write a book, but it’s committing the time. I feel bad saying to my wife, ‘Okay, I’m going to go write for five hours. Bye.’ It’s not even that I feel bad; I don’t want to. I want to hang out with my wife. But as soon as she gets back to being employed, and I have eight hours a day where I’m doing nothing, I know that I will. I’ve got the idea in my head.”
Styling by Jake Sokoloff
Grooming by Megan Whalen
Shot on location at Paramount Hotel
Clothing by Calvin Klein, Todd Snyder, Polo Ralph Lauren, Daniel Buchler, Zara, TopMan
Eyewear by Allied Metal Works Sunglasses
Shoes by TopMan
Michael Urie and Talene Monahon star as con man Ivan Alexandreyevich Hlestakov and his betrothed Marya in Gogol’s 19th-century comedy of errors The Government Inspector. The Red Bull Theater production is running through August 20. Offstage, the actors are just as witty and full of laughs as their satirical Russian characters.
Broadway Style Guide corresponded with Michael and Talene by email, and they shared how they first met, the next show they’d love to do together, and why Michael is drinking Talene’s blood.
How did you meet? What was your first impression of the other person?
Talene Monahon: We met at the table read. I thought he had impeccable timing—and impeccable hair.
Michael Urie: Talene was hilarious in the table read, and I knew it’d be easy to fall in love with her. (And knew she’d be easy to seduce.)
When you were cast in these roles, did you do anything before rehearsals started or outside of rehearsal to get to know each other?
Talene: We were kind of coy for awhile. Sometimes we Facebook messaged each other pictures of Twilight characters.
Michael: Talene would NOT leave me alone.
What’s the secret to falling in love onstage?
Talene: Writing love poetry, building shrines, weird rituals involving a lock of the other person’s hair. Michael was trained at Juilliard, so he may have other methods, I don’t know.
Michael: Fake it.
Have you ever had any onstage mishaps during the show together?
Talene: Twice now, I’ve kissed Michael so hard that my mouth has started bleeding, and he’s inadvertently swallowed my blood.
Michael: She’s a vampire. I know because… now I am too.
What other show would you love to do together?
Talene: Pygmalion. Maybe Virginia Woolf, down the pipeline…
Michael: Much Ado About Nothing! A two-person Les Miz.
What is one thing you have to have on an perfect date?
Talene: Some LOLs.
Michael: Easy conversation. Left wanting more.
Michael, why is Talene easy to fall in love with? Talene, why is Michael easy to fall in love with?
Talene: Have you seen him? Michael is like Labradoodle puppy meets Prince Charming. Effortlessly adorable.
Michael: It’s a chore, honestly. Jk—she’s gorgeous, and I can lift her up several different ways. She’s an easy laugh, and hopelessly sweet.
Michael: Talene’s bloody mouth.
Michael: Must we?
The Stage Lovers’ Game
We asked Talene and Michael to answer the following questions for themselves and for the other person.
*Editor’s note: Michael saw Talene’s answers over email so instead of answering for her, he responds to her answers for him.
What is your go-to drink?
Talene: Vodka soda
Michael: Laprhoaig 10
Talene’s answer for Michael: Whiskey (or Diet Coke)
Michael’s response: Close, it’s scotch. And I’m trying to drink less Diet Coke after Arnie Burton told me it causes Alzheimer’s.
How do you take your coffee?
Talene: Milk and powdered chemicals
Talene’s answer for Michael: Iced, with milk
Michael: Hm, observant I DO like iced coffee sometimes…I would’ve guess Talene was a tea person…
What is your favorite food?
Talene: Greek yogurt
Michael: Peanut butter
Talene’s answer for Michael: Tex-mex?
Michael: Close, I do love Tex-Mex. For Talene—BANANAS! Hahahaha!!!! (She like HATES bananas.)
What is your go-to outfit in a pinch?
Talene: T-shirt, shorts, sneakers, baseball cap
Talene’s answer for Michael: T-shirt, shorts, baseball cap
What is your dream role?
Michael: It was Hlestakov, I just didn’t know it… :)
Talene’s answer for Michael: Hamlet? (He’s doing it!)
Michael: Yeah, that too… Her dream role is unwritten, but I would love to see her play Viola in Twelfth Night.
Talene: The English moors
Talene’s answer for Michael: New Zealand?
Michael: Are there bugs? I don’t like bugs. Or sharks.
Dream dinner date?
Talene: Terry Gross
Michael: Tennessee Williams
Talene’s answer for Michael: Ryan and Kinley and maybe the cat (though probably not).
Michael: Oh yeah, Ryan! Not Tennessee Williams… :)
Styled by Kayla Foster and Tony Marion
Clothing by Asos, Parke and Ronen, David Heart
Shoes by Nina Shoes, Gola
There’s a new dynamic duo storming the stairs of Moscow! Stepping into the shoes of Pierre and Sonya in the the much celebrated production of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 are Hamilton favorite Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan and multi-platinum recording artist Ingrid Michaelson.
Onaodowan and Michaelson sat down with Broadway Style Guide to discuss how they’re approaching the roles, onstage surprises, and what brought them to the Broadway stage.
What is the most unexpected thing you encountered while working on The Great Comet?
Ingrid Michaelson: For me it was the physicality, how it physically hurts your body. There’s a lot of stairs. During rehearsals, we were rehearsing in rooms where there are no stairs. They’re like, “This is where you’re going up these stairs. This is where you’re going down these stairs.” So for as many stairs as you see on stage and in the mezzanine, there’s also stairs backstage. You’re just constantly walking up and down stairs. It really takes a toll on your body.
Okieriete Onaodowan: One is no matter how old you are, whenever an actor interacts with you [as an audience member], you just turn into a six-year-old kid. So many times when Denée or someone looks at someone, you’re just like *sighs*—old man, old woman. It doesn’t matter where they come from.
Oak, a lot of people know you from Hamilton, what’s it like going from a supporting character to heading your own show?
Onaodowan: Honestly, it’s the same shit, you know. I just say different things.
Michaelson: Except you get all the applause when you come out onstage!
Onaodowan: Yeah! It’s more applause, and I say more words. But the approach of it, grounding [the characters] and making them real, it’s just more material to make a real person. For me personally, that’s the main difference—just having more time and more material to craft, work around, and create a really fully flushed out dude. It’s really great, and the applause doesn’t hurt at all.
Michaelson: He’s just so good! He brings a real vulnerability to the character. And this might be because I watch the show every night from certain points, but I really understand a lot of it and I really feel like this week you really came into, I don’t know, something. I was crying yesterday. I had a little hanky in my cleavage and I was [sniffling] in the corner.
Onaodowan: The same for you!
Onaodowan: But truly, with your work, and I said this in another interview, it’s inspiring to see how seriously you took coming to stage.
So what made you join a Broadway production?
Michaelson: Hearing “Sonya Alone.” I saw the show. I heard that song. And I was like, “That’s a pretty song. I want to sing that.” I also went to school for musical theatre. I just didn’t have the traditional Broadway voice, and a lot of people in the show don’t have a traditional voice.
Onaodowan: Yeah that’s true.
Michaelson: And I thought that maybe this could be something I could actually be part of. So I talked to the producers, and they said, “Let’s figure out a time that works,” and we found five weeks. And now I’m halfway through! It’s crazy.
It’s interesting that you just spoke about “Sonya Alone” because it’s one of the more memorable songs in the show. How are you putting your own spin on it?
Michaelson: I really love the stage direction because I follow Denée, or whoever is playing Natasha, around the whole stage. I basically sing to her, and it takes the pressure off of you. You don’t have to do anything. And the song is just a sweet song of love, but it’s not romantic love. It’s unflinching, unrelenting love for, basically, your sister. She’s not my sister, but that’s how I feel.
I feel very protective of her so much that in a show last week, when she dropped her dress at one point and some male in the audience was like “whoo!” I got really weirdly protective. And when I walked out on stage, I had a look on my face. And one of the stage managers was like, “What happened!?” I’m like a guard dog. I would do anything to protect you even if it means the end of our friendship, which is what sort of happens in the end. And that’s real love. I don’t care if you hate me; I’m doing what I know is best for you.
Oak, how are you putting your own spin on Pierre, especially stepping in after the show’s writer Dave Malloy and Josh Groban?
Onaodowan: How I am as an actor, as an artist, is wildly different from Dave. It’s wildly different from Josh. So inherently, my version of Pierre is just wildly different, and it’s a bit more vulnerable. I really wanted to focus on him being as vulnerable as possible and being caught up in the whirlwind of his world around him. He’s seeing it and thinking there’s something wrong but doesn’t necessarily know how to approach it.
I think everyone can relate to that—to really wanting and trying to be somewhere but being stuck. Everyone has been stuck, and I think that it’s always compelling to watch the person who is fighting to get unstuck because their success, in a way, is kind of your success. You’re connected to that. The underdog story of someone striving or fighting.
Dave Malloy was inspired by pop and contemporary music. Ingrid and Oak, who are some singers and musicians that have inspired you?
Michaelson: This is what I listen to before I go onstage because I just love her. I just listen to Judy Garland all the time. Her story is so tragic to me, but her voice is just one of those voices. Her voice, to me, is not perfect and has weird moments in it. Those are my favorite artists—sonically, musically, even in the way you write. Everything. Where things aren’t perfect. And I think she really embodies that in her vocal approach. It’s just so twisty and turn-y. She’s like my vocal icon.
Onaodowan: It shifts and changes. Right now, it’s Ben Rector, who I love. He’s a storyteller and the message behind his music is kind of “take your time and appreciate the moments around you.”
I don’t know if I have any specific music inspirations. My mom and my family are my biggest inspiration across all mediums—just anyone who is tenacious and really attacks anything. It could be something as simple as a little kid I see on the train who’s adamant about something and his mom’s like “No. No, you can’t do it.” And he’s like, “No! I WILL do this.” That’s my inspiration for the day. That kid is like “This is something that I want, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to get it.” I’ll carry that for the rest of the day with me.
Onaodowan and Michaelson will be performing as Pierre and Sonya until August 13.
Styled by Kayla Foster
Make-Up by Megan Lanoux for Exclusive Artists using Oribe Haircare and Sisley Paris
Clothing by Narciss, Andreeva, Everlane, Scarci, Brave Gentleman
Jewelry by Scosha
Shoes by Nina Shoes
Barrett Doss is dancing. We’re at the restaurant Battery Harris in Williamsburg, and while at this particular moment, we’ve asked her to shake it for a Boomerang, she’s been twirling her way through the entire photoshoot.
She’s wearing a back-less romper—a summer staple style for her—and from behind the garment’s cut-out, one of her tattoos peeks out. It’s a reproduction of something her younger sister used to sign, and Doss had the tattoo artist trace just how her sibling wrote the words: Just love.
That phrase could also describe Doss, the breakout star of the Tony-nominated Groundhog Day. She bounds into stylist Kayla Foster’s Brooklyn apartment, all smiles and effusing excitement, wearing a hot pink spaghetti-strap sundress. It’s a departure, at least in wardrobe, from the character she plays onstage: Rita Hanson, the associate producer tasked with wrangling the ornery weatherman Phil Connors (Andy Karl) who repeats the titular day (almost) endlessly. Onstage, Doss sports many layers for the winter-set musical, and the heat has gotten a little overwhelming this summer—stage management even has ice to give the actors when they come offstage.
“I think I’ve actually sold some of those coats!” Doss jokes, noting that a few women have asked her where to purchase one on Twitter. But you won’t hear Doss complaining: leading a Broadway musical has been a dream of hers since she was young—a dream that almost didn’t happen.
She auditioned for the part of Nancy initially but was called back for Rita, and she was excited about going in for a lead role. However, before her callback, she booked a small part on Netflix’s Iron Fist and learned her filming schedule would conflict with the West End run of the show.
“You don’t want to commit to a callback if you can’t take the job,” she says. “So I withdrew myself. And it was really hard because I was so excited! Being a theater person and growing up loving musical theater, it was really difficult to justify that I was going to take a small TV role over even just the possibility of playing a lead in a Broadway show.” But when the show was coming to Broadway, they brought her in for final callbacks for the role, and she had one chance to prove herself. Spoiler alert: She did.
Her love of musical theater came along in middle school. She was an athlete, swimming and playing basketball, and her mom was a professional basketball player playing for the Minnesota Stars (Doss was born in Minneapolis) and a golfer competing in the U.S. Open three times. So when Doss started to show a proclivity toward theater, her mom encouraged her to pursue it. “She never does anything half-assed and she wouldn’t let me do that either,” Doss says.
She spent her middle-school and high-school years in Chicago, and moved to New York after sophomore year. She studied musical theater for one year at New York University and then moved into the school’s Gallatin program, where students design their own major. While Doss still wanted to pursue acting, she got very discouraged after college and didn’t think it was going to work out.
“I was in a weird age bracket for what I thought my type was,” she says. “And so I sort of feel like as an actor, I’ve been growing into myself as I’ve gotten older. It’s taken this long for me to sort of find my niche or understand what my niche is. But I was ready to throw in the towel.”
So she planned to move to San Francisco with her college boyfriend and become a cheesemonger. Her plane ticket was booked. She was three interviews into landing a job in the cheese section of a gourmet supermarket. And then she received a call from playwright Thomas Bradshaw, asking if she wanted to meet with a director for what would be her Off-Broadway debut, Burning.
Her first TV job was playing Eliza Lemon in the 30 Rock series finale, Liz Lemon’s great-granddaughter, and she’s drawn a few parallels between Tina Fey’s TV alterego and Rita in Groundhog Day. “A lot of Liz Lemon has seeped into Rita,” she explains. “She’s also kind of off-beat and trying really hard to keep things under control and have it all, and there’s a little bit of that in Rita too.”
And Doss also brings her own experiences to the character: “For me, Rita is a 36-year-old black woman, and that is a huge part of the character. It doesn’t need to read that way from the audience, but part of the reason that she doesn’t put up with shit from Phil is because there is not a 36-year-old black woman in the world who would put up with some of the shit that he does. There’s just a certain reality that people of color exist within that adds a level of depth to characters that can really benefit them and benefit the show in a way that doesn’t have to be obvious from the audience.”
Doss looks up to Audra McDonald and says she totally lost it when McDonald used Doss’s performance as an example of the type of casting Broadway needs. “She mentioned our show and my character and said, ‘There’s this idea that there is a best actor or actress for the part and you don’t need to make a point or mention that this person is black or any race,’” Doss says. “This year is one of the first years you’re seeing actors and actresses of color playing characters that have nothing to do with being of color,” she continues, and examples include Denee Benton in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Condola Rashad in A Doll’s House, Part 2, and Kristolyn Lloyd in Dear Evan Hansen.
And for Doss the most rewarding aspect is hearing the stories from audiences after the show. “Meeting younger people at the stage door, especially young women of color, there was one girl who was crying because she was just really excited to see someone who looked like her playing a role that didn’t require a person of color,” she says. “It’s been really exciting to feel a little bit of that.”
Who knows? Maybe she is Audra McDonald to some teenager out there, hoping to be on Broadway one day.
Styled by Kayla Foster
Shot on location at Battery Harris in Brooklyn
Clothing by ASOS, Blank NYC, Naanaa, Glamorous, BiBoss
Shoes by Summit Shoes, Room of Fashion
Summer is undoubtedly my favorite season. I would be happy to live the rest of my life in a bikini and a flowy coverup.
For this photoshoot, featuring the sizzling Ana Villafañe of On Your Feet! and heartthrob Kyle Brown of Anastasia, I brought together some looks inspired by my favorite beach destinations from across the globe.
Ana is exclusively wearing swimwear by Bondi Born, a line created in Australia inspired by the famous Bondi Beach off the coast of Sydney. High-waisted bikini bottoms keep the look sporty yet chic and relaxed. And listen up, one-piece bathing suits aren’t just for doing laps anymore. Find a style that complements your shape and size.
A swim look isn’t complete without a fabulous, long, patterned coverup to make you feel like a queen. From Tulum to Santorini to Ibiza, I don’t pack for a vacation without a plethora of caftans or coverups to take me from hotel to beach to lunch to sunset. And don’t forget about accessories: Sunglasses always make a statement. For this shoot, we featured Illesteva frames that complement and complete any beach look. I’m also a fan of simple jewelry to luxuriate your swimming ensemble. A delicate gold necklace and a cuff are my personal faves.
And what is a woman in a bikini without her best accessory—a hot man with a 16-pack? Kyle happens to be the perfect male specimen that just about anything looks good on. While it’s wonderful to travel the world, some of my favorite looks are inspired by our very own East-Coast destinations, specifically the coveted Hamptons and ever-so-preppy Nantucket. Looking effortless is key so whether you’re wearing is a patterned or solid-color trunk, it’s always good to have a mesh tank or cardigan, as seen on Kyle, nearby to pop on.
I learned everything I know about styling from my mentor Joe Zee. I was fortunate enough to meet Joe in a dance class 10 years ago and have the opportunity to work alongside him for a full year. During that time, I worked with renowned photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Michael Thompson, and Patrick Demarchelier and with publications like Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Details, and House & Garden. I also worked on campaigns for The Gap, Banana Republic, and Zara. For me, styling is so personal and says so much about a person. I’m continuously finding my own style and always encourage people to do the same.
This is my second summer in New York City. The drinks get colder (or frozen), the hemlines get shorter, and all I ever want to do is explore. I love finding new spots in Central Park or getting lost wandering around Soho. Considering that I moved here from L.A., the sun fuels me with extra energy. And at night, there’s no better feeling than watching the city come alive from some gorgeous rooftop, while sipping on something bubbly.
Sunscreen: I know it sounds boring, but I am all up on that SPF*. (*I also use this abbreviation for “sweet potato fries,” and the sentence is still 100 percent accurate.)
Frosé: The world needs more frosé, i.e. frozen rosé, which is quite honestly the best of both worlds. I highly encourage frozen drinks because by the time you’re half way done, some of that ice has melted and you’re technically hydrating. So I’ve decided it’s a responsible choice.
Flip-flops: My obsession with Havaianas began when I was in high school. You can find them anywhere and in a zillion colors. Plus there’s a full store conveniently located right on Broadway between 47th and 48th.
Coconut oil: EVERYWHERE! I am obsessed, especially since I wear so much makeup onstage. But it keeps my entire body from getting too dry.
Running by the Hudson: This is my favorite thing to do in the summer. Throughout the year, I can always be found inside a gym, but the heat and humidity outside work wonders for my voice. I end up at Gotham Market for a smoothie or ice cream or glass(es) of wine or a full-out taco.
An open mind: I’m always in work mode. But during the summer, I force myself to be more open to saying “yes” when people invite me out. Barbecues, pool parties, Netflix and guacamole, a food tour of Brooklyn—the sexiest thing about summer is feeling like I can do it all.
I love summer in New York City. Whether it’s spending a day by the pool at the Dream Downtown or taking in a movie at Bryant Park, you can’t go wrong. I love spending my weeknights at rooftop happy hours and escaping the hustle and bustle on the weekends for a beach trip to Fire Island.
St. Tropez: I’m all about looking sun-kissed for the summer, but nobody wants the big C or to look like a leather bag. Try this easy to use sunless tanner to give yourself that summer glow then load up on the SPF when you’re getting that vitamin D.
Mirrored Sunnies: They are on-trend and double as an emergency fix your hair moment.
Handkerchief: Hankies aren’t just for cruising anymore. Rock it like a Boy Scout or like you’re a cocker spaniel fresh from the groomer. Either way, it’s an accessory must-have for the summer.
White-leather Converse: Dress them up or down, morning or night, these are a summer staple
Underwood Canned Rose: It’s not just an unpopular administration it’s also canned rose! Canned rose! Get into it!
Styled by Ericka Hunter
Shot on location at the Dream Downtown
Swimwear by Bondi Born, Parke & Ronen, Katama
Cover Up by Hemant & Nandita
Jewelry by J. Crew, H&M, Belladaar, Samantha Wills
Shoes by Sophia Webster for J. Crew, Parke & Ronen
Eyewear by Illesteva
Time didn’t actually slow down when I first saw Anastasia star Derek Klena through the windshield of our SUV—but it sure felt like it did. Not slow like Baywatch, more like an action hero walking away from an explosion. We’d never met before, and all anyone had told me about him was, “He’s just a great guy.” He definitely fits the role of Dmitry, every millennial girls’ animated childhood crush, with his swooping brown hair and a muscle-gripping tee that makes it look like he’s only ever seen either the inside of a gym or theatre. The musical is currently playing at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Klena is the type of person you meet and you know is a star. He opens the door with a smile as white as his shirt and greets the part of today’s photo crew he knows with oddly charming bro-y handshakes and laughs. He then proceeds to introduce himself to the others, including myself. Klena’s good looks and charm ooze perfection so naturally one of my first questions for him is: How often do people fuck up?
“All the time.” he responds, suppressing laughter. He then impersonates some of the instances, and I’m impressed. His casual sings and hums are a better tune that my pipes have ever produced.
When we arrive in Coney Island, there is not a cloud in the sky, which means lots of sunblock application because, “you can’t be on Broadway with a sunburn.” Throughout the day, Klena and I make small talk as I style him for each look. We wrap at 3 p.m. on the dot so Klena can be back in the city for a 4:15 p.m. audition for a film project. He spends the duration of the ride back into Manhattan going over his lines, which he’s written out on index cards. Back in the city, Klena jumps out of the car, tag still hanging from the back of his shirt, and we make a plan to meet up after his show later in the week.
At 11:15 p.m. on Thursday, Klena and I meet at the Bowery Hotel. He looks like the leading man he is, wearing a navy suit, classic white button-down undone three notches, and a pair of Stan Smiths. Klena is the type of guy you could sit down with and talk about your favorite things to eat at Cheesecake Factory (one of his guilty pleasures) for 45 minutes and have a great time doing it, but based on our conversation at the photoshoot, I had to know how this 25-year-old star skyrocketed to Broadway success.
“I think it’s always been in my blood,” Klena says, noting that his mother was always interested in acting. “When I was 3 or 4, my mom took us to see Beauty and the Beast and it immediately sparked a love for it.” He started voice lessons when he was 8, and he also participated in a theater group that did two shows a year for the next decade. “My first paid acting job was Tom of Warwick at the end of Camelot, which I was extremely proud about it,” he says.
However, prideful would be the last adjective I’d use to describe Klena. Even when he speaks about his accomplishments, there’s a humbleness to him. “I actually used to play baseball and the second the game was over we would hop in the car and hustle over so I could make it the end of the show and play Tom,” he remembers.
Oh, that’s right. Klena wasn’t only a natural on the stage, but he was also a star on the diamond. He walked onto the baseball team at UCLA, and then he was faced with a difficult decision: Baseball and college or move to New York for an Off-Broadway show? Klena sits up a bit and begins to speak a little faster, as if adrenaline is coursing through his bloodstream remembering that decision.
Klena initially got the opportunity to audition for the non-Equity tour of Spring Awakening, but didn’t get it. Soon after, he sang a song from Catch Me If You Can at a cabaret concert that the show’s composer Marc Shaiman heard about. Shaiman reached out to Klena and told him next time he sang it to send them a copy, which he did and Shaiman loved it. He forwarded it to the casting director, who then invited Klena to New York for an audition. Did he land the role? Nope, but he impressed the right people. The team brought him back to the city for a workshop of Carrie, after which he had to fly back to L.A. for finals. His experience playing baseball and Tom in Camelot were coming in handy.
But when he landed the role for Carrie’s Off-Broadway run, which Klena calls “defining moment,” he had to decide between theater and baseball and theater won out.
Though Klena says his “first big break” came with Dogfight, the tuner based on the 1991 film about a group of marines who throw a party before shipping out and challenge each other to bring the ugliest girl they can find. Klena played Eddie, the troubled soldier who ends up falling for his date, Rose, when the show ran at Second Stage in 2012.
“Dogfight is what gave my career that boost and was basically the experience that changed my life so New York was home,” he says as he sits back into his chair, half smiling as if he’s dreaming with his eyes open. It seems like things were pretty smooth sailing career-wise early on, so I have to ask, what have been the struggles?
“There’s definitely been long periods of unemployment,” Klena says, noting that Dogfight director Joe Mantello wanted him to join Wicked eight months after Dogfight closed.
“You kinda have to live your life accordingly and learn to save for these periods between jobs. I had just done two Off-Broadway shows where I was making not a lot of money,” he says. “It’s just a grind to the finish and that’s the hardest thing about choosing to do this as a profession. I’m so grateful for the successes that I’ve had and am super lucky to have been consistently working, but at the same time there have been periods of unemployment and things like that and it’s just been constant learning.”
The energy has shifted, and I give Klena a minute to let all of that sink in before I ask, “Has it all been worth it?”
“Oh my God, yeah,” he says without hesitation. “At the end of the day, it’s literally the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When it’s good it’s the best and when it’s not good it’s just the worst. You have to prepare yourself mentally for that. And that also that’s why I value trying to be as well rounded as possible and have other interests like I still play softball in the park. It’s really about the activities and the environment that you surrounds yourself with that will keep your sanity and keep your happiness and honestly keep you focused on what’s important.”
Klena’s career accolades are impressive at any age, but for being only 25 the story still has many chapters left. So what’s next for Klena. “I would love to do films!” he says ecstatically. “I’ve done some TV over the past couple of years, but I’d love to work on a film. The reason that I love theatre and the reason that I think theatre will always be a part of my life is because of the collaborative environment that it gives and I love what I do because of the people that I get to work with. I would love to work on a film where I get to be with the same group of people for an extended period of time and really put a story together.”
Klena thrives on camraderie, whether it’s on a sports team or as part of a show’s ensemble, and he doesn’t see baseball and performing as all that different.
“Acting is a team sport,” he says, adding that there’s a similar pressure in performing a show or playing a game. “Part of it is learning how to deal with that pressure and learning what things about your day and your preparation allow you to perform at your highest level the most consistent amount of times,” he continues. “Now every night is going to be totally different, I feel different every day; the audience is different everyday. So that is what keeps things interesting and keeps things ever-changing.”
So, considering Klena’s career success, I have to ask: What’s your best advice for those pursuing their dreams of being on Broadway? Klena sits back again and takes a deep breath.
“Seize every opportunity,” he begins. “That’s the amazing thing about New York is there are so many opportunities going on all the time and you may not think that each opportunity is worth it. You may talk yourself out of seizing every opportunity but you never know who’s going to be there and what is going to lead to what. That’s been the key to my life—random experiences that have led to so many things. So, seizing the opportunity and being present is huge, but also being yourself. I mean it’s the hardest and most cliche thing to say, but it’s true…I think it’s really important to trust your instincts and trust yourself and know that you are enough to achieve what you want to do.”
There it is. Derek Klena, what a great guy.
Check out TodayTix Insider to see more looks from this shoot!]]>
The first time Matt Doyle and Alex Finke met, they kissed. It was at their callback for Sweeney Todd, in which the pair play Antony and Johanna at the Barrow Street Theatre, and they had to sing “Kiss Me,” the lovers second act duet.
“I was in there reading with another girl,” Doyle recalls. “And she came in, and the first thing I said to her was ‘Are you comfortable with me kissing you?’”
“And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’” Finke says.
Sitting across the table at Starbucks in the West Village, the pair effortlessly completes each other’s sentences. In fact, it’s not clear whether they were similar before they met and that’s why they get on so well or if they’ve just started to rub off on each other. (For one, they both like whiskey, black iced coffee, and will gravitate toward a t-shirt and jeans in an outfit jam.)
“I have not had this kind of relationship with anyone I’ve played opposite before,” Finke says.
“I’m never not happy to see her,” Doyle adds. “You know how you come to work, and there’s always a day where somebody annoys you just because you work so close together especially in theater. But Alex is always the ying to my yang.”
The two sat down with Broadway Style Guide to share what makes their onstage romance work and why they can’t stop laughing.
When you first got cast in these roles, did you do anything before rehearsals started or outside of rehearsal to get to know each other?
Matt Doyle: No, not really. I knew her boyfriend (Joe Carroll) from before. We played poker together.
Alex Finke: And I knew his boyfriend (Max Clayton) from before just through mutual friends.
Matt: And then we just dived right in and hit it off very quickly. And within two days of getting to know each other, all of sudden it was like, being complete nerds and weirdos.
Alex: Total nerds!
What do you nerd out about?
Alex: It’s not so much specific things we nerd out about. I just feel like we both have very weird, goofy, off-the wall sense of humors.
Matt: Like inner clowns that we bring out of each other and so we laugh like 90 percent of the time that we’re together. And when we’re not laughing, we’re bitching about things that we need to just vent about.
Alex: Something I appreciate about our relationship too is we’re so comfortable with each other that if I ever have an issue or if he’s like “you’re driving me crazy,” I’m like, okay sorry, and then it’s just over. There’s nothing dramatic about it.
Matt: We’re very blunt with one another. And never offended.
And both of your boyfriends are in Bandstand. Is that weird?
Alex: It’s great! It’s really fun that we’ve gotten to come to work and share in our boyfriends’ excitement together.
Matt: And our boyfriends are totally a little jealous of our relationship, which we kind of love.
Alex: I do. I love it so much. ‘Cause Joe’s not a jealous person at all.
Matt: Max is like, “Wow you guys hit it off so well.”
What is the secret to falling in love onstage?
Matt: Honestly, for me, it’s being comfortable enough that you can be that honest with each other. When you’re dating someone and falling in love with them, part of the chemistry is sometimes it just works and what doesn’t work, you talk about those things. And if you can’t talk about those things, you’re usually not going to continue to date that person. So we already had that really, really warm, friendly chemistry with each other, but any time something didn’t work, it was like “Oh that feels weird.” Okay, move on and then laugh about it and change it and never be offended by.
Alex: To me, being comfortable with each other offstage is really important. Just because when you’re out there in from of everybody, there’s a level of transparency that you have to have, but especially in our show, there’s no hiding from anybody.
Do you have pre-show rituals together?
Alex: We normally have a specific moment in the pre-show that we go “Hey how you doin’? Off we go.” (Editor’s note: The cast comes out and greets the audience in the space before the show begins.)
Matt: And just do a check in with each other. It’s usually a goofy dance to each other or something.
Have you ever had any onstage mishaps together during the show?
Alex: So many!
Matt: First of all, our kiss is so fast and so passionate in the choreography that many of times, we’ve hit heads really, really hard.
Alex: Bumped heads, teeth, noses, missed mouths.
Matt: Bitten each other. Sometimes I rip out her hair clips.
Alex: I have hair extensions so sometimes he’ll grab my head and then the clip will go pop, and he’ll have to hold my hair on.
Matt: We are not like the graceful lovers by any means.
Alex: I joke that I almost kill him every day.
Matt: I feel like even as kids we were both like the weird, awkward ducklings that maybe became a swan. I don’t know.
Alex: I’m still waiting. I’m still molting.
Had you had fun interactions with audience members?
Matt: One night, in the dead silence…
Alex: This is like a cast favorite.
Matt: We were all sitting at the end of “Johanna” in the second act, and it’s dead silent and I’ve got tears in my eyes, I’m very dramatic. And this girl who’s sitting less than a foot away from me just says out loud to me in the most ditzy, dry tone, “You’re amazing.”
Did you break?
Matt: I just was like, deep breaths, didn’t break, kept going. But as soon as I got offstage, we were all already quoting it.
Alex: I get a common mishap that happens a lot. I don’t know what it is about me or how I handle props, but I have a lot of people take props out of my hand.
Matt: And I’ve never had it happen!
Alex: In “God That’s Good,” we have all this choreography with the plates, and at one point, I pick it up and put the plate in my hand and we do choreography, and someone took the plate out of my hand. I had to like grab it back and keep going. People take props out of my hand all of the time.
What show would you love together?
Alex: We have a bunch.
Matt: We want to play opposite each other again. I would be crushed if we didn’t.
Alex: Me too.
Matt: Maybe A Light in the Piazza somewhere. We want to keep this going.
Do you have any favorite onstage or onscreen couples?
Matt: I know everyone was really over it after four movies, but Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. That can go on. They’re great.
Alex: I’ll side with you on that.
Do you have any favorite offstage memories together?
Matt: We were all invited over to Sondheim’s house within the first two weeks of rehearsal, and that was amazing. He threw a dinner party for all of us and it was gorgeous, and his home is beautiful and he was so welcoming and kind. And we were leaving the party—because we all arrived together and we all left together—we were all talking about our different experiences. And Brad Oscar said, “It was like the gayest Sleep No More ever!”
Alex: That was probably the first time we all really hung out outside of work. And our trains were down, so you and I took a super long walk and geeked out, which was really fun.
Matt, what is something people would be surprised to learn about Alex, and Alex what is something people would be surprised to learn about Matt?
Matt: Oh! That she belts. Everything that she’s played since she first got to the city has been a blonde soprano. And she’s actually a brunette who belts her face off.
Alex: Thank you! What a nice advertisement.
Matt: Well, I want you to belt in your next show. We should do Thoroughly Modern Mille! And that she does comedy really well.
Alex: You’re just the best, I don’t know what people don’t know about you. I just think you’re the best person ever, do people know that?
Matt: That’s dumb.
Alex: It’s not dumb. Do people know how goofy you are?
Matt: I think people think I’m a lot more serious than I am.
Alex: I think you present yourself in a way that you’re a bit more reserved sometimes.
Matt: But I am an absolute nut job backstage.
Alex: Yeah, in the best way.
Matt: We like chase each other backstage and it’s usually instigated by me. We play with each other…
Alex: Like little kids, like brother and sister.
Matt: If you gave us Legos, we’d probably play with those backstage.
Alex: That sounds great. I’ll bring some tomorrow.
Matt, what is one word to describe Alex. Alex, what is one word to describe Matt?
[After much deliberation]
Matt: The first thing that comes to mind is loveable. I’m so endeared by so many things about her.
Alex: As a scene partner, I would say selfless for sure.
Matt: But as a person?
Alex: [Jokingly] But as a person, you’re really selfish. So I can’t say that.
Matt: That’s kind of true! That’s actually brilliant. [Laughs]
Alex: Passionate. I’m going to go with passionate. Because you’re like that in so many aspects. Passionate, done. Final answer. I’m pleased.
“The Onstage Lovers Game”
We asked Alex and Matt to answer the following questions for themselves and for the other person. Let’s see how well they did.
Alex’s answer for Matt: Whiskey
Matt’s answer for Alex: Whiskey
Matt: Black iced
Alex’s answer for Matt: Black (Venti cold brew)
Alex: Black or with almond milk
Matt’s answer for Alex: Black iced
Matt: Chicken broccoli/protein plate
Alex’s answer for Matt: Protein box
Alex: Ice cream
Matt’s answer for Alex: Steak and potatoes
Alex: Steak and potatoes?
Matt: Yeah, I thought maybe since you grew up on a farm. [Laughs]
Matt: T-shirt and jeans
Alex’s answer for Matt: T-shirt and Jeans
Alex: T-shirt and jeans
Matt’s answer for Alex: Silky top and jeans
Matt: “Johanna” (Act II)
Alex’s answer for Matt: “God That’s Good”
Alex: Shifting favorites: “Kiss Me” “Opening Ballad”
Matt’s answer for Alex: “God That’s Good
Alex: Oh, I knew that! I knew your favorite song.
Matt: We both have fun doing “God That’s Good!”
Alex: Especially now that we can do it! It was really hard to learn. So there’s a sense of victory.
Matt: Claude in Hair
Alex’s answer for Matt: Fabrizio in A Light in the Piazza
Alex: Clara in A Light in the Piazza
Matt’s answer for Alex: Eliza in My Fair Lady
Matt: We were talking about wanting to do A Light in the Piazza together!
Alex: That’s why I put that down. I think my real dream role is originating something.
Alex’s answer for Matt: Costa Rica
Alex: Italy or Thailand
Matt’s answer for Alex: Hawaii
Matt: Somewhere my boyfriend can be happy and full
Alex’s answer for Matt: Max
Matt’s answer for Alex: Gourmet farm-to-table place in the village
Styled by Kayla Foster
Clothing by Reiss Clothing, Minnoji, Hydrogen Luxury Sportswear, Daniel Hechter
Shoes by Pour La Victoire, Florsheim
Make-Up by Erin Acker