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Next to Normal - Broadway

Michael Greif directs this moving new musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey.

Meghann Fahy Savors Stepping Up from Understudy to Star in Next to Normal

Meghann Fahy Savors Stepping Up from Understudy to Star in Next to Normal
Kyle Dean Massey & Meghann Fahy in 'Next to Normal'
Everybody took me under their wing and didn’t make fun of me for not knowing anything about theater.

Age: 20

Hometown: Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Currently: Settling in to her full-time gig as Natalie, the talented, troubled daughter in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal.

Not in Kansas Anymore: Fahy comes from a family of singers, but her only acting experience before nabbing an understudy gig in the pre-Broadway run of Next to Normal was playing Dorothy in her senior class play, The Wizard of Oz. The summer after graduation, her mom suggested a trip to New York to try a few open calls, simply for the experience. Amazingly, the teen singer ended up auditioning for powerful casting director Bernard Telsey, who called her back three times before whisking her off to Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage as the standby for Jennifer Damiano. “I had never been in any show, but the cast was so welcoming,” Fahy recalls. “There were just 10 of us, and everybody took me under their wing and didn’t make fun of me for not knowing anything about theater.”

On-the-Job Training: After bonding out of town, Fahy and the rest of the Next to Normal company made themselves at home at Broadway’s Booth Theatre, where understudies are required to be physically present from “half-hour” until the finale. “Our show is considered riskier than others because of the three levels of the set, so they feel most comfortable with everyone in the building,” she explains. On top of that, Fahy and Damiano spent a year as real-life roommates. “We actually didn’t see each other that much at the theater because I was sitting upstairs and she was doing the show,” Fahy says. “When we got home, it was nice to hang out and decompress.” Speaking just before Damiano was announced to star in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Fahy said, "I am so proud of her! She's doing amazing things, and she deserves it because she's super-talented."

Family Ties: Feeling “beyond ecstatic” to be promoted to a leading role on Broadway, Fahy speaks thoughtfully about the journey Natalie takes as the daughter of a manic-depressive mom and a distracted dad. “She's insecure and feels neglected and unloved. She’s afraid to get close to anyone, but by the end, I think she’s found some peace.” Fahy is particularly effective in the wrenching “Maybe” duet with Marin Mazzie as mom Diana, when Natalie sings Brian Yorkey’s heartbreaking lyric, “I don’t need a life that’s normal/ That’s way too far away/ But something next to normal/ Would be okay.” She says of that moment, “It’s pretty epic. The show affects people in ways they’re not expecting, and I feel so lucky that they trusted me enough to give me the part.”

Two Lives to Live: As if delivering an emotionally demanding stage performance eight times a week wasn't enough, Fahy is also moonlighting (daylighting?) in a juicy recurring role as an even more troubled teen in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. A fan website ticks off these interesting facts about her character, Hannah O’Connor: “stalked an ex-boyfriend; overdosed on painkillers; has a fixation on a coed; witnessed a crime.” The devious Hannah was meant to appear in three episodes, but Fahy is now working a couple of days a week. “It’s not easy,” she admits, “because sometimes I have to get up at 6 to go to the studio, film all day and then do the show, but both jobs are rewarding in different ways. I just try to get as much sleep as I can when I’m not working.” Seeing their diligent daughter play a habitual liar tickles Fahy’s parents: “They love watching me on TV. I find it hilarious.”

Feeling Electric: Forming a brand new Next to Normal family with star couple Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley has been “an indescribable experience,” Fahy says. “They are both such rock stars, and it’s been so cool to watch them come in and learn these monster parts. I’m so proud to be up there with them; every night is different as we continue to find new things together.” The lovefest continues when Fahy speaks of Adam Chanler-Berat, who plays Natalie’s stalwart sweetheart, Henry. “I honestly don’t know what I would do without him,” she gushes. “There’s a very specific trust that’s needed to do what the show requires of us, and he’s been there for me every step of the way.” Looking to the future, Fahy says attending college (which she delayed for Next to Normal) is still a possibility, but she has no regrets about working 24/7 while other people her age are out partying. ‘I miss my friends, but I’m positive that if the situation were reversed, I would regret not being here a lot more.”

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