EXCLUSIVE: Phillipa Soo Embraces Amelie's Freedom and Whimsy in New Broadway Adaptation
By Stacy Lambe
“We can’t get rid of each other,” Phillipa Soo says fondly
of her former Hamilton co-stars.
After a year playing Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit
Broadway musical, the Tony-nominated actress -- like most of the core original
cast members -- left the show last summer to focus on the next step of her
career, which will see her playing Amélie in the Broadway musical adaptation of
the 2001 French romantic comedy starring Audrey Tautou. “You have a little bit
of sadness, because you’re like, ‘Oh, this means it’s the end of something,’”
Soo said last year, just before departing. “But it’s the beginning of something
In the months since leaving Hamilton, she joined Moana,
providing the voice for one of the villagers in the Disney animated film for
which Miranda composed original music. And most recently, the Schuyler sisters
-- Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Chephas Jones -- reunited at the
Super Bowl to slay “America the Beautiful.” “We’re stuck for life, but in the
best way,” Soo tells ET.
Even having just returned to New York City after a few
months in Los Angeles, where Amélie
debuted for a limited run, she’s bumped into familiar faces. “It’s a very small
world,” Soo says of her first week back, adding: “I can’t wait to share Amélie with people from Hamilton.”
The new musical, which tells the story of an imaginative
woman who orchestrates moments of joy for the people around her while avoiding
a romantic life of her own, will see Soo moving from a large ensemble to front
and center when previews start on March 9 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. (The show
opens on April 3.) While it’s something she hasn’t done before, either in Hamilton or the Off-Broadway production
of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet
of 1812, it’s a welcome opportunity.
“It’s very humbling,” she says, “because being so exposed
and having to be out on stage, it becomes very apparent you need your ensemble
to carry you through.” Instead of getting overwhelmed by the thought of leading
an entire show, Soo has learned to focus on each moment with her co-stars. “It
makes it almost easier to grasp the whole thing.”
After saying goodbye to Hamilton and indulging in some much-needed pampering, a recharged Soo was able to turn her attention to this “silly, goofy, joyful” person. “I feel like Amélie is very much an extension of me,” Soo says. “She’s a contemporary woman who sees the world through her imagination.” And Amélie doesn’t wear corsets. “I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that was also something that was very appealing about this,” she adds. “It’s very freeing.” While Soo embraced the clothing of the late 1700s for Hamilton, which she says gave her an appreciation for a physicality that doesn’t exist today, Soo is excited about the freedom to move around the stage. “It’s been so fun to not have any sort of physical barriers in my costume, to kind of let loose.”
While fans of the original film, which earned five Oscar nominations, may scratch their heads at how the stage show will capture its more imaginative elements, Soo says that’s where the beauty of the theater comes in. “You’re able to get into somebody’s brain through song,” she says, explaining that they use a lot of “theater magic” to create an absurdist version of the story. “It’s the beautiful tug and pull of how can we reach out and how can we draw people in.”
The musical -- “a swirling snow globe of a show” -- is also the perfect escape from “the temperature of our country and our world right now,” Soo says, adding that Los Angeles audiences have enjoyed getting lost in the story. “It’s nice to have something to remind people that the world is not so big and that we’re all connected.
“We really need to take the effort to reach out to other people so that we can move forward,” Soo concludes.