Disaster!’s Scene-Stealing Jennifer Simard Shares Her Most Memorable Nights Onstage

Diva Talk   Diva Talk: Disaster!’s Scene-Stealing Jennifer Simard Shares Her Most Memorable Nights Onstage
 
The Disaster! cast member, who has Broadway buzzing and audiences rolling in the aisles, looks back on her theatrical career.
Jennifer Simard
Jennifer Simard

Praise the Lord! Jennifer Simard is back on Broadway in the guilty pleasure musical of the season, Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick's cruise-ship set Disaster! at the Nederlander Theatre. The laugh riot, filled with some of the great pop songs of the ’70s, boasts a cast that also includes Tony winners Faith Prince and Roger Bart, Tony nominees Adam Pascal, Kevin Chamberlin and Kerry Butler, Rachel York, Lacretta Nicole and co-creator Rudetsky. But it may be Simard, who plays Sister Mary Downy, a nun with a bad habit, who earns the most laughs of the evening.

Whether she’s almost-inaudibly singing “The Lord’s Prayer,” demonstrating why she’s “Torn Between Two Lovers,” belting ”Never Can Say Goodbye” or strumming her guitar with abandon, Simard finds every possible comedic moment and some you wouldn’t even have thought possible. It is a scene-stealing performance—even if it is opposite a slot machine—one that should be remembered at awards time.

Speaking of awards, Simard, a long-time Off-Broadway favorite, whose Broadway credits also include Sister Act, Shrek the Musical and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, will join multiple Tony nominee Brian d'Arcy James to announce the 66th Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations April 19 at New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel. I recently asked the gifted singing actress to pen a list of her most memorable nights onstage:

My first time performing with professionals in a local theatere company. There I am—furthest to the right. I was a munchkin in The Wizard Of Oz. Note our gorgeous Dorothy played by my beautiful and talented friend, Lauri Landry.

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Wizard of Oz
Simard and Danny Burstein (left); Simard and Ron Bohmer (right)
Simard and Danny Burstein (left); Simard and Ron Bohmer (right)

Performing in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. I did nearly 1,500 performances, so it's hard to pick out one specific night, but I always had fun with my pal Danny Burstein.

I had a blast doing The Thing About Men. It had one of the best casts I've worked with, including Daniel Reichard, Ron Bohmer, Marc Kudisch and Leah Hocking. Pictured here are Ron and myself (with Daniel looking on) where I played one of my favorite characters in the show—a model with a shellfish allergy.

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Gypsy

Opening night of Forbidden Broadway SVU. Here I got to perform my favorite impression—Bernadette Peters as Rose in Gypsy.

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Jennifer Simard and Mo Rocca

The night of my Broadway debut, opposite my friend and co-star Mo Rocca, when we took over the roles of Rona and Panch, respectively [in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee]. My family and friends were present, and it was a night I'll never forget.

In Shrek the Musical I enjoyed the greatest costume of my life. My Vivienne Westwood-inspired Wicked Witch gown was exquisite—shown here from the night we filmed the show, which was like a rock concert (below).

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Shrek the Musical

The day my late mother, Yvette, saw me perform as Sr. Mary Downy in Disaster! Off-Broadway. It was the last performance she saw me in (below left).

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Simard and late mother Yvette (left); Simard in Disaster! (right)
Jeremy Daniel

Opening night of Disaster! on Broadway. Surrounded by family and friends, in memory of my mom and with joy in my heart, we opened the show (above right).

Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

Senior editor Andrew Gans also pens the weekly Their Favorite Things.

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