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Flashback Friday: Annaleigh Ashford — From NYMF to the Tonys, Next to Normal to Kinky Boots

When Next to Normal was still Feeling Electric and Annaleigh Ashford was missing her Kinky Boots. logo

Annaleigh Ashford
(© David Gordon)
It's NYMF season again! And to celebrate this newest batch of fledgling musicals, we're going back in time to remember one of NYMF's greatest success stories: the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal.

Next to Normal, which follows a family struggling to deal with a bipolar mother who receives electric-shock-therapy treatment, joined the second-ever New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005 under the title Feeling Electric. Before Alice Ripley earned her Tony Award performing alongside Tony nominees Jennifer Damiano (Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark) and J. Robert Spencer (Jersey Boys), as well as Adam Chanler-Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher), Louis Hobson (Bonnie and Clyde), and Broadway (now film) heartthrob Aaron Tveit (Les Misérables), the cast boasted a completely different set of Broadway stars. The NYMF production included Anthony Rapp (Rent), Amy Spanger (Elf), Joe Cassidy (Catch Me If You Can), Benjamin Schrader (The Book of Mormon), and the current Tony-nominated star of Broadway's Kinky Boots, Annaleigh Ashford, who, at the time, had no Broadway credits to her name.

Listen here to a recording of star-to-be Ashford singing composer Tom Kitt's Tony Award-winning song, "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" (Damiano's signature number on Broadway) at the 2005 festival. Time to place your bets on which of this year's NYMF shows and performers will be at the Tonys a few years from now.

For more information and tickets to shows at this year's New York Musical Theatre Festival, click here.