Meet Jesslyn Hodgson, a busy actor in the London community theatre scene and a face you may have seen before. Most recently, she was nominated for a Brickenden Award for her portrayal of ‘Marcy’ in Allswell Productions’ “Dogfight.”
Jesslyn’s newest project takes her back to the 80s with Musical Theatre Productions’ “The Wedding Singer” – onstage February 1 to 9th, 2019 at the McManus Stage. I recently caught up with Jesslyn to ask her a few questions about her road to performing and some of her favourite things about the show.
1) Tell me a little about your musical theatre journey here in London.
I kind of stumbled into performing in Elementary school at L.B.Pearson School for the Arts here in town. I was a really shy kid, so I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did – but I did a few shows and I was hooked. I played a few roles in school there, and then in high school, I got involved with the High School Project through the Grand Theatre. That was such a great experience to be able to work with professionals and be on that stage at that age – something I’ll never forget! I continued to stay involved in University with King’s Players, and since then I’ve been working with a number of groups in London, including MTP!
2) You’ve done a lot of shows with Musical Theatre Productions in the past, what has differed about your experience with “The Wedding Singer?”
I was going to say it’s the first show I’ve done that was made popular as a movie first, but I actually experienced that with “Heathers the Musical” in 2016!
I will say this has been a different experience getting to play a role that has been so well known. Everyone who sees this show will have Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in their heads, so it’s really important that we do those characters justice, while also making them our own. There’s a lot of pressure attached to that – but it’s also been really fun seeing the buzz around the show and having people who aren’t usually musical theatre fans interested in coming because they love the movie so much.
3) What do you love most about portraying Julia, and why?
I love the movie, so it’s really fun to live through that every night. Even though Julia’s a hopeless romantic, she’s also a very relatable, normal person in a cast of zany characters – so it’s kind of cool to play that character that grounds things in reality. It’s also really great acting this role opposite Sean, whom I’ve known for years. We have a lot of fun with our characters.
4) What do you hope audiences take away from this production?
There are those classic rom-com lessons; be true to yourself, follow your heart, etc. One of the most important take-aways is to never shy away from telling people how you feel – because you never know when they might be feeling the same way. I also hope they walk away humming a few of the show’s tunes – they’re pretty catchy!
5) Is there a particular ritual you have before a performance?
I wish I could say I have more of a ritual, but I’m usually running straight from work trying to shove food in my face before a performance! That being said, we always have our standard cast rituals: vocal warm-ups, dance warm-ups, mic checks. The vocals are pretty demanding in this show so I usually drink a tea and warm up a little extra while I’m crimping my hair- another part of the nightly ritual!
Either / Or
Pick an answer and tell me a little bit about why!
The 80s or 90s?
I’d have to go with the 80s – even though the 90s were pretty great (#90skid). I think the 80s were just such a huge cultural moment in terms of fashion, music and film!
Musical or play?
It’s actually such a tie for me I don’t know if can choose! Musicals are definitely fun but I also like the acting challenge of a drama. I try to do one of each every year.
“The Wedding Singer”
McManus Stage at the Grand
February 1 to 9
Purchase tickets online
Box office: 519-672- 8800