PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Pippin Star Rachel Bay Jones

By Matthew Blank
09 Apr 2013

First CD/Tape/LP you owned: I don't remember, but I bet it had folk music on it.
First stage kiss: As a teenaged Daisy, in a production of Biloxi Blues. I was in love.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I still don’t! I remember the moment I first knew I wanted to be a marine biologist, though... (That didn’t pan out.)
How you got your Equity card: As a teenager, in a production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. I auditioned barefoot, sitting on the edge of the stage, singing "One Tin Soldier," a 1960’s era anti-war song, a cappella. Of course I did.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Pre-show: a petite soup at Green Symphony

Post-show: Shake Shack! Extra pickles!

Favorite liquid refreshment: Water, nice red wine. Also, the spirulina-acai smoothie at my family’s health food store on Maui. And during the show, hot water and honey, cause Danny Burstein told me it soothes a dry throat, and he's right.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Coffee! Chatting too much with castmates, currently with Charlotte d’Amboise, about our hectic mommy-days and sleep deprivation. Then right before curtain I’ll touch my toes or something while Patina laughs at me and asks if I’m warming up for my big trapeze act. (I don’t have a trapeze act. No one would trust me on a trapeze.)
Most challenging role you have ever played: Eva in Evita, in Spanish, a language I do not speak. It's amazing what our brains can do under pressure. (And a cheat sheet in the Casa Rosada for opening night. "No llores por mi, Argentina…")
Craziest audition story: I'm a very shy person, and most of my audition stories are terrifying or sad. I think I may actually have had an out of body experience auditioning for Frank Wildhorn's Civil War. All I remember is my view of his shoes... from the perspective of one who is hovering up around the ceiling. That counts as crazy, right?
What has been the biggest challenge about this project? The role I play is usually not in the first act but we decided, as one of the players in this circus troupe, she should be. Not as Catherine, but as a clown. Clowns make me uncomfortable, and I liked the idea of exploring that. So I spent a good part of the development period with Diane Paulus, Gypsy Snider and Nancy Harrington finding out who this clown would be, and what she has to say--wordlessly.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect? I interact directly with the audiences in a way I rarely have in a musical. It's indescribable, fascinating joy. And Matthew as Pippin is delish: so alive.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? Gregory Arsenal, one of our amazing French-speaking acrobatic "flyers" and a true clown. I'd love to feel what it's like to do what he does so gracefully. And I think his Catherine would be something to see.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Sondheim writes such beautiful deep women. Dying to work on one of them.
Leading man role you'd like a shot at: Meh. Women are enough of a challenge for me right now!
Something about you that surprises people: I am not a vegetarian, and I have lurking rage. (These two facts are not related. I hope.)
Something you are incredibly proud of: My radiant daughter
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I fight sadness a lot.
Career you would want if not a performer: Gentleman Farmer
Three things you can't live without: Butter, denim, Benim and my daughter, Miranda. That's four.
"I'll never understand why…" … most Broadway musicals seem to shy away from casting performers (especially women) who are more diverse physical "types" and unconventionally beautiful. I'd like to see this evolve.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Know the warty truth about yourself, and try hard to forgive it; it'll serve you in your understanding of the strange theatricality of this life. Find where humor sleeps in everything. Make the most terrifying choice, 'cause, wow, what could happen then?! Love your audience, and remind them we are all connected.