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Dear Provincetown

Tony Award Winner Rachel Bay Jones Rings In The New Year

TOP IMAGE: Photo: Susan Stripling

Broadway actor Rachel Bay Jones received an invitation to participate in a table reading of a new work back in May of 2014. The catch was none of the assembled actors could read the script before hand or ask any questions. As they took their seats they weren’t even allowed to take a peek at the first page. All they knew was what was written on the script’s cover: “Untitled Musical By Steven Levenson, Music and Lyrics By Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, To Be Directed By Michael Grief.” As the reading progressed secrecy gave way to exhilaration. This was good. Really good. And the theatrical electricity produced in that room on that day gave Jones a hint that her life was about to change in a big, big way as she and her future co-star Ben Platt continued to read what would later be known as the Broadway smash hit Dear Evan Hansen.

“I just remember this bubbling excitement that began to take over the room,” says Jones. “It was very exciting. We were reading it for the very first time ever. It was such a special experience.”

In the arts it’s a rare and thrilling moment to capture lightning in a bottle. It’s another thing to ride that lighting bolt all the way to the Broadway stage and the Tony Awards, but that’s just what Jones did. From several reading to its premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. to Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater and finally to the Music Box Theatre, breaking a box office record for the Broadway theater. Dear Evan Hansen would go on to win six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Platt and a Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jones’ performance as Heidi Hansen.

Photo: Susan Stripling

Jones’ success with Dear Evan Hansen has brought her previously unrivaled opportunities since making her Broadway debut in Meet Me in St. Louis thirty years ago. Jones didn’t just nab a Tony Award on her first nomination of her career, but also a Grammy Award for her work on the cast recording and an Emmy Award for a performance with her co-stars on The Today Show, making her an Academy Award short of being an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner getting the first three all in one year.

Now living in Los Angeles and working in television and film with appearances on Modern Family and in the upcoming movie Critical Thinking with John Leguizamo, Jones is making her Provincetown debut when she takes to the stage at the Art House with Seth Rudetsky for two shows on December 30 and New Year’s Eve. Jones has known Rudetsky for years and marvels at his mind, not only for his musical talents, but his deep knowledge of the history of Broadway. For years now in both New York City and Provincetown he’s hosted fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants interview shows where he on a whim throws a song at the best and the brightest of Broadway making for a fun and unpredictable night. No two are the same. And Jones has an extensive resume from which to pull having appeared on the Great White Way in celebrated revivals of Fiddler on the Roof, Hair, and Pippin among others. Having the chance to be the first actor to create a role in a hit like Dear Evan Hansen was an incredible opportunity, but so, too, is creating the role for yourself in a revival of a classic musical.

“You have to put whatever’s been done before aside,” says Jones. “No one wants to see an actor recreate what someone else did. They want to see what you bring to it. What are you going to do that’s new? Its part of why people love the theater. You look forward to seeing how an actor is going to make a role their own.”

Photo: Susan Stripling

Having left New York for the Southern California sunshine Jones is enjoying the adventure of working in Hollywood taking a break from performing in live stage musicals. She’s loving it, but thoughts of Broadway are never far from her mind. The daughter of Shakespearean actors, the stage is her first love and like Cat Stevens once sang, “the first cut is the deepest.”  She’ll be back someday. How could she not? Of all the work an actor can get the stage is the most thrilling, says Jones, and in particular Broadway really is as special collection of creative people who support and love each other, she says.

“It’s still a business,” says Jones. “Its still show business, but it really is a special community. It’s such a small community, really. It’s a small group of people that really love musical theater, so it feels like a tight night group of people. There was a moment backstage at the Tony’s, before the awards were given out when Stephanie Block and I were waiting to be seated during a commercial break. We didn’t say anything to each other. We just reached out and held hands. It was so emotional. We just took in the moment and were so grateful to be a part of Broadway.”

Rachel Bay Jones performs with Seth Rudetsky as host at the Art House, 214 Commercial St., on Monday, December 30 and Tuesday, December 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets ($50/$75/$100) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.9222.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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