Beautiful Tony Winner Jessie Mueller Is Headed to Carnegie Hall…

…and then serving up some ”Waitress” at A.R.T.

It will be an afternoon of firsts at Carnegie Hall's April 18 Take the Stage concert. The family-oriented show, featuring Broadway sing-alongs, dance-alongs, and presentations from some of the best in the business, will introduce its young audience members to the world of live performance. It will also introduce Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller to the world of Carnegie Hall.

Mueller, fresh from her breakout role in Beautiful — The Carole King Musical, will make her debut at the famed venue as the show's headlining performer. Currently on hiatus from Broadway's hectic schedule, she's excited to get her feet wet in the prestigious concert hall while molding young minds and grooming the next generation of theatergoers. Plus, when you get the opportunity to hand-jive on hallowed ground, you have no choice but to seize it.

Tony winner Jessie Mueller will headline Carnegie Hall's Take the Stage with Broadway Stars concert on April 18.
Tony winner Jessie Mueller will headline Carnegie Hall's Take the Stage With Broadway Stars concert on April 18.
(© David Gordon)

How did you get involved with this concert?
I was approached by Leslie [Stifelman], who's the music director over at Chicago. My agent got a call from her saying, "Hey, do you think she'd be interested in doing this?" At first my agent said something about, "They want you to sing at Carnegie Hall," and I was like, "What? I think they have the wrong number." It was very cool, and they started to explain to me what the concert was about. It seemed like the greatest opportunity to ease into singing in a place like Carnegie Hall and just such a great thing because it's all about exposing kids to this music…The fact that it's so interactive for the kids — I think that's what makes it so new and exciting.

What kinds of opportunities will the kids have to interact with the performers?
There are going to be people in the aisles helping the kids learn to do certain dances like the hand jive, there's going to be a chorus of Broadway performers [who] are also singing and dancing, [there will be] stuff from Hairspray, Les Mis, Beautiful, some more recent things — it's going to be really cool. These are all wonderful professionals at the top of their game who are presenting this work, so it's going to be the cream of the crop. It's like a Broadway party! When do you get to dance at Carnegie Hall to Hairspray?

And they'll be learning at the same time?
We're going to be sort of inserting knowledge without seeming like you're having a music lesson. They're learning "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do," which comes across in this cute little song, but that's the building blocks of music…So it gives kids a vocabulary. We're going to talk about things like music directors and choreographers and orchestrations, but in a really fun interactive way that connects to real people who have these jobs. I think that's a great way for the kids to become exposed to it.

Mueller as Carole King in Beautiful — The Carole King Musical.
Mueller as Carole King in Beautiful — The Carole King Musical.
(© David Gordon)

Why do you think it's important for kids to be introduced to live music?
I think all kids should be exposed to live music in an acoustic environment like this. The thing that's so great about the concert is it is truly interactive in a more heightened way than, say, maybe a normal Broadway show would be, but it teaches kids that it is an interactive art form. It's not something that's done and completed before they get there. It happens as they're there. It involves them as much as it involves the people onstage. It would be great if we can start to engage a new audience for Broadway that really understands and respects the live interactive act of it. I think that's kind of lacking these days. And that's what makes it so special. There's nothing wrong with watching a movie or sitting at home watching Netflix, but live theater is a very different experience and it should be. It's going to be really cool for kids to see that.

So you'll be digging into some of your Carole King repertoire during the concert?
We'll be doing a couple of the numbers from Beautiful, which will be fun for me because it's one of the first times that I'll be singing the music outside the context of the show— without my wig!

Do you miss the show at all?
I certainly miss the people, but it's good to have a break too. I'm usually not very good at breaks. I'm kind of a workaholic, but this one's been good so far. It's nice to just take a step back and do some life and try to get recharged creatively, which is why things like this concert are fun.

Is the American Repertory Theater production of Waitress your next project?
That's happening in the summer, barring contracts and all. I'm hoping all that works out. It's going to be a fabulous project and Sara [Bareilles'] work on it is sensational. I always get nervous whenever I start something new but I think that's just an indication that it's starting from the unknown, which is where you should start from. That's how you come up with good stuff.

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