Hey, Chicago. Remember Jessie Mueller? Perhaps you saw her in Writers’ Theatre’s She Loves Me? Or as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls at Marriott? Or, if you were really lucky, her steller work as Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along at The Music Theatre Company?
(My friend Jamie and I argued if we saw her in The Three Musketeers musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre back in 2007 or if if we actually saw her sister Abby, and we were actually both right: Abby played the lead love interest, while Jessie was in the chorus.)
Well, after her breakout role in the flop revival/revisal of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Ms. Mueller has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Tony Award. Yes, her career seems to be taking off. And good for her — she’s a marval. Next up: the highly anticipated production of Into the Woods at the Delacorte Theatre in New York’s Central Park (Mueller’s playing Cinderella opposite fancies like Amy Adams as the Baker’s Wife and Donna Murphy as The Witch).
Plus, you know you’ve really made it when you’ve been featured in Broadway.com’s “Show People” segment:
Notice how Broadway.com Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek seems lost as to what types of questions to ask someone with only one Broadway credit. It’s hard not to feel that he treats her Chicago work like one would refer to the roles you played in high school.
So, this leads to the question: is a stage actor’s career only relevant if they make it big on Broadway? Let’s turn to what the refreshingly candid Adrian Aguilar (who’s rocking it out in Porchlight’s Tick, Tick… Boom) had to say in a recent Time Out Chicago interview:
What is your reaction then to comments that you’re Broadway bound or that you’re getting too big for Chicago?
You know what, I’ve got a bone to pick with those comments! I’ve read a few things, and I’m not trying to personally attack anyone, but this is something I’m really tired of seeing and hearing. It seems that there’s this trend, that every time there’s an amazing show, or a person—the Mueller girls or something like them—every time there’s someone that’s standing out and really shining, the theater community in Chicago, the critics and reviewers, their general statement is “this thing is so good, it should not be here.” And I hate that! We’re not supposed to be perpetuating this stereotype that New York is better than Chicago. Is New York bigger than Chicago? Absolutely. Is there a lot more money there than in Chicago? Absolutely. But there are great shows there, there are great shows here. And there are horrible shows there, and horrible shows here.
What do you think?