Tiffany Mann is currently co-starring in Be More Chill at the Lyceum Theatre, one of the most talked-about shows on Broadway this year. Known for roles in Waitress on Broadway, Jerry Springer the Opera, Invisible Thread, as well as TV roles in Orange Is the New Black and Rise, she recently recorded the Be More Chill album with the rest of the cast and the show’s composer Joe Iconis for Ghostlight Records.
We talked to Mann about being a woman on Broadway, playing Jenna Rolan, the response to the show, and how she feels about the show’s upcoming closure. The experience has clearly empowered her to make stronger choices in the future.
Be More Chill is playing at the Lyceum Theatre until August 11th.
Be More Chill is your second Broadway show. What’s it like being a woman on Broadway today?
TM: I feel like we’ve seen quite a few strides in the kind of stories that we want to tell in this male-dominated industry, and we’re certain to make our mark. I’m a part of that tapestry now. I get to show other girls who don’t get to normally see themselves in this way. This includes female leads being quirky and getting to dance and black women getting to be on stage, and I’m helping to lead a Broadway show. I feel honored, privileged, and ready to keep up the fight to get more roles for us.
What was it like when you got cast in Be More Chill?
TM: First, I got a message from my agent that the show wanted to see me for this audition. When I walked in, it was one of the warmest rooms and I realized quickly that there were no rules. Everyone behind the table was so incredibly welcoming and encouraging, which gave me permission to be even crazier and wilder. I remember doing a cartwheel in that audition. I just felt comfortable to try new things. Thankfully, they liked what I did.
Were you aware of its success and fame on social media prior to auditioning?
TM: I had no clue. Once I got the offer, I was chatting with my friends and they filled me in about it. When the press announcement came out, my social media exploded with messages, likes, and follows from eager fans who had followed the show from the start. It was cool to see how many people the show had already touched before we started the NYC run.
Now you’re a part of the Iconis family.
TM: It’s so great to hear about these people who have been doing these concerts and attending them around the city for so long and be a part of that group. They’re regular artists who want to create and put good things out – both into the world and the world of artistry.
What has your collaboration been like with composer Joe Iconis and do you hope to do more work with him?
TM: Joe has allowed me the freedom to play Jenna in my own way. He wrote the music and then told me to try things, so I manipulated the melody and put my own spin on it. It has been incredibly liberating as an artist.
What do you have in common with your character, Jenna Rolan?
TM: I think Jenna’s sense of fashion has a lot to do with what I wished I could have dressed like in high school. I lived all of my high school dreams through Jenna’s colorful fashion, her purple buns, and curly hair. That’s all Tiffany Mann.
What has the experience been like to take a show from off-Broadway to Broadway?
TM: There were a number of changes made for clarity’s sake. We learned off-Broadway what we wanted the audience to take away. We put more things in focus.
What has the response to the show been like?
TM: It’s a shower of love every time I come out of the stage door – just seeing how many people wait after the show to tell me how much they appreciate me and the show. One time I came out, and the entire stage door sang my song back to me, and they even put in silly idiosyncrasies. I’m so grateful to have that exchange.
Do the themes of the show resonate with you on a personal level and take you back to your own high school days?
TM: Yes, there’s a scene with Jenna and Jeremy where she tells him she would do anything to feel like she belongs. There were times in high school that I felt out of place. I went to a predominantly white high school, and I had curlier hair and was heavy set in the dance program. I didn’t know how I fit in and then I realized, just be you. Just settling in your own skin works.
You created a cast album for the show. That must have been very exciting.
TM: That was really special for me because when I was young, we couldn’t afford to go to New York or see shows. My sister and I would sing into hairbrushes and sing along with cast albums and imagine what it would be like. We used our imagination, and the cast albums were the windows into our access to Broadway. To be a window for someone else is going full circle and means a lot to me.
What was the closing announcement like for you and the rest of the cast?
TM: It was incredibly bittersweet. You want a show to run forever and reach the masses. I know that I was lucky to have my fingerprints on the life of this piece and that it will live on long after I am still believable to be a teenager. I’m grateful to get to rock this thing out until August 11th!
You sound so empowered by this role. What’s next for you?
TM: I want to make my own music. I have a single coming out soon. I realize that I don’t have to wait for anyone else to give me permission to be an artist. I can be an artist all day, every day, and create the kind of content I want to see.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.