CUE & A: Once Star Jessie Fisher on Her Craziest Audition, Mark Rylance and Falling Asleep Onstage | Playbill

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News CUE & A: Once Star Jessie Fisher on Her Craziest Audition, Mark Rylance and Falling Asleep Onstage Jessie Fisher, who currently stars as Girl in the Tony-winning Broadway musical Once, fills out's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Jessie Fisher
Jessie Fisher

Fisher is a Chicago-based actor/teacher/improviser/musician. Chicago credits include work at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, About Face, The Gift, The Hypocrites and TimeLine.

She is half of the folk duo Erik and Jessie.

Full given name: Jessie Anne Fisher
Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born in Highland Park, IL, and grew up there and another suburb of Chicago called Lake Forest.
Zodiac Sign: Sun sign: Aries. Moon sign: Aquarius.
What your parents did/do for a living: My dad was a teacher and now works for his family business. My mom is an artist in every regard. Check her stuff out at!
Siblings: I have an older sister, Taryn, who is a mom of two, a lawyer and my best friend. And a little brother, Jake, who is the kindest, coolest, funniest musician I know.
Current audition song/monologue: My go-to monologue is from Dead Man's Cellphone by Sarah Ruhl. It was from an early draft... so I don't even think it exists in the script anymore. I don't audition for many musicals, can someone recommend some good songs for me??
Special skills: I play the saw. I'm a rock climber. I'm really good at cooking bacon.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Being graceful in real life, and operating effectively on less than 5 hours of sleep.
First Broadway show you ever saw: The Who's Tommy with Michael Cerveris! It blew my tiny ten-year-old mind!!
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? I know its not that far back in time, but I didn't get to see Jerusalem and I think Mark Rylance is so brilliant. I want to act with him one day. And then I will quit. Everything.
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: The Killer at Theatre for a New Audience. I'm from Chicago, so I recommend anything that A Red Orchid Theatre Company does.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Johanna" from Sweeney Todd. Chills and tears every time.
Some favorite modern musicals: Little Shop of Horrors, The Secret Garden… are those still considered modern? Ok, I just looked up "a complete list of contemporary musicals" and found some more I like: The Last Five Years, Urinetown.
Some favorite classic musicals: Singin' in the Rain is my very favorite movie/classic musical. Also My Fair Lady and West Side Story.
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Madeline Kahn. End of list. She was so graceful and funny.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: How can I not say Glen Hansard? He is just plain transcendent. And Joni Mitchell forever.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: This unreal experience called En Route by an Australian company called "one step at a time, like this." It is essentially an interactive, location-specific walking tour that broke my heart and my perception of my surroundings. Look them up and DO NOT miss an opportunity to experience their work.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Music makes me cry every day. But there is a composer from the late 1800's named Alexander von Zemlinsky who wrote a tonal poem for Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid." It is gorgeous and overwhelming.
MAC or PC? MAC, yo.
Most played song on your iPod: "Tennessee Jed" by Levon Helm
Most-visited websites: Hulu and Netflix
Favorite Tweeters: Owls. But I guess they hoot. This question is about birds, correct?
Last book you read: "Anna Karenina." My fiance and I read it together while we are apart. Holy Tolstoy, it is amazing!!!
Must-see TV show(s): "The Wire," obviously. "Fargo" the TV show is incredible. I'm just starting "Breaking Bad"… have you guys heard of it? And "The Bachelorette." Wait...who typed that?...I refuse to admit it was me.
Last good movie you saw: I just watched "The Godfather" for the first time. AMAZING! I know, I'm late to the party.
Some films you consider classics: "Bringing Up Baby," "The Apartment," "Annie Hall," "Young Frankenstein," "The Three Amigos," "Moonstruck." Some of these are not so old, but they are classics because I can watch them over and over and have.
Performer you would drop everything to go see: I've already admitted my devotion to Mark Rylance. Also a mix of theatre and film: Amy Morton, Michael Patrick Thornton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hardy, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Darci Nalepa.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Ohhhh this is where I put watching "The Bachelorette." I understand now.
Three favorite cities: Chicago! New Orleans! Florence!
Favorite sport/team/player: Cubs fan for life. It is the cross I must bear.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Probably Paula Abdul
First stage kiss: A class I took at Piven Theatre in Evanston. His name was Ari something and I think it was a scene from a "Tom Sawyer" adaptation. It was... the worst. The kiss, not the class.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I was in The Goodbye Girl at The Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre when I was 11. One of my first professional jobs and the first time the whole acting thing really started to make sense.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: We used to take summer vacations in this little town called Door County in Wisconsin. My sister and I once held an audience of other vacationers hostage while we put on a three-hour "puppet show" where we interviewed and did the voices for our teddy bears. Three hours, you guys. The audience was not pleased. But it was too late. I was addicted.
How you got your Equity card: Once the Musical on Broadway. Yup.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Post show: Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village
Favorite liquid refreshment: Bourbon. Send all bottles to Jessie Fisher at The Jacobs Theatre.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Tea, vocal warmups then dancing in my dressing room to Macklemore.
Most challenging role you have ever played: I did a play last summer called The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell. I played two very different characters with different dialects in different time periods. Most challenging and one of the most rewarding. Oh, and Girl in Once.
Biggest challenge about this current project: Not having my hands shake while I play that first Mendelssohn piece. It is a very vulnerable moment in many different ways.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: There is not one part of this project that is not fun or fulfilling. It is fulfilling dreams I didn't even know I had. I am always bouncing with gratitude and disbelief that this is my life right now. I get to sing, play music and act some gorgeous material with an amazing company.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Well, as a kid I once fell asleep on stage. I mean, I was supposed to be "acting" like I was asleep. So maybe I'm just method.
Worst costume ever: Full spandex in a college musical. No one should go through that.
Worst job you ever had: I waitressed at an Italian restaurant run by a mad man when I was 16. Favorite quote by this mad man (to be read in a thick Italian accent): "You F#&*@ing teenagers! You are f*$&ing smart as a fox when you want to be.... and other times you are dumb as a f*$%ing fox!" Oh man, that job might have actually been the best, now that I think about it.
Craziest audition story: This one for Once! I left Chicago at 4 AM on a Monday to get to my 11 AM audition in New York. Auditioned, went back home to Chicago at 4:30 PM. Got offered the role the next day on Tuesday, they asked me to be here in New York for work the following day on Wednesday... they were kind enough to push that date to Friday. So I moved here in two days. It was crazy.
If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? Ivanka, my daughter. She gets to act in pajamas. Dream job.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Nurse Ratched. I want to be a bad guy.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: If you only knew how many roles for men I have played. I got to play the Emcee in Cabaret a few years ago. That was on my list of "parts I'll never play but want to."
Something about you that surprises people: I was a chemistry major in college for a hot minute.
Something you are incredibly proud of: Being a teacher
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I've never seen "Gone With the Wind"
Career you would want if not a performer: I want to open a drop-in center for kids that offers music classes/recording in Chicago. I'll have that career one day for sure.
Three things you can't live without: Family/friends, creativity, laughter
"I'll never understand why…" ... good things happen to bad people.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: You are enough.

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