As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.
As part of the 2015-2016 KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square, If/Then is making a stop in Cleveland. In this interview, Jackie Burns, leading lady of the hit musical, answers questions about life and Broadway, and her role as Elizabeth, Liz and Beth.
Tell us about yourself, Jackie. Was performing always a part of your upbringing?
I started dancing when I was 3 and danced until I went off to college. I have always loved performing. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
The role you play of Elizabeth in the show takes on two identities: one of Liz and one of Beth. Are there any challenges/things of note in playing the same character yet in different incarnations?
Honestly, Brian Yorkey [Book Writer and Lyricist of If/Then] wrote such a genius script – it makes my job as the actor easy to switch worlds.
In being a part of the cast since the show’s Broadway run, in what ways have you seen the production grow and evolve as it now tours around America?
It’s been very interesting getting to watch the show take shape and shift over time. It’s such a beautiful show and I feel like it is at its best version now on tour. The added projections for the tour by Peter Nigrini and Dan Scully really help set up the two different worlds.
You’ve previously been a part of a touring production before heading back to New York City to appear on Broadway. As you just recently “hit the road” again, what about touring stands out for you?
When you are on tour you get really close to your cast mates. You are together all the time; they become your family in a sense. This cast is amazing!
Are there any moments/songs in If/Then that are favorites of yours, or ones that the audience react strongly to? Why?
I love every song in the show for different reasons. One of my favorite moments for the audience is during the first act. There’s a song called “What the F—?” and audiences always really love that one.
This show has been described as “intense and thrilling” – in your opinion, what’s the secret to engaging an audience to feel that way in your experience?
I think as long as we are telling the story from a real, grounded place, the audience will take the journey with us and leave the theater having a very moving special experience.
Is there something that makes If/Then a bit special for you from the others you’ve worked previously?
This role is the stuff dreams are made of for an actor. I get to go out on the stage and go through every emotion a human being has. It’s challenging and rewarding in ways I can’t even put into words. I’m loving every minute of it.
If/Then will play in Cleveland February 9-21 2016 in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.
Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a yoga teacher at Evolution Yoga, an event and marketing professional and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.