When people think of Broadway’s current leading ladies, the names that often get tossed around are Laura Osnes, Sutton Foster, and Audra McDonald. While all of these women are wonderful, Broadway and Off-Broadway have slowly been starting to cater to an edgier audience. The likes of Rent, Tommy, and Rock of Ages are nothing new anymore, but with the success of shows like Once, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Hamilton, a new alternative is moving in, and with them come opportunities for new, edgier voices.
One such voice is that of Rebecca Naomi Jones. Jones made her Broadway debut in Passing Strange, a rock musical chronicling the journey of a young man finding himself through travel. The show had a narrator, a protagonist named Youth, his mother, and an ensemble of two men and two women. The ensemble played every other role in the show. Thus, Jones got to play a Christian teenage stoner, a laid back resident of Amsterdam, and a German art rioter. These three roles totally showed off Jones’ dynamic acting abilities. She switched seamlessly between these three main characters, as well as small background roles.
Rebecca Naomi Jones was next seen in American Idiot playing Whatshername. To be honest, I went to see American Idiot BECAUSE Rebecca Naomi Jones was in it. I enjoyed the show, and I loved that Jones was starring in this huge, popular show. The cast performed on award shows, talk shows, and even America’s Got Talent. This is the show that earned Rebecca Naomi Jones her cult following.
As a hardworking actor who worked her way up the theatre ladder, Rebecca Naomi Jones totally deserves all the respect she’s been getting. Her voice is rich and strong, giving her the ability to rock emotional ballads and anthems. She has an amazing ability to command the stage. Jones’s acting is superb, and she is so expressive. She plays strong women (and now a man) who demand respect, and get it. In both Passing Strange and American Idiot, her character is worshiped by the male lead. This woman kicks butt on the stage, and her career is just beginning.
In case you missed out on American Idiot and Passing Strange, now is your chance to see Rebecca Naomi Jones live. She is currently playing Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch opposite the show’s creator, and soon Darren Criss.
If you happen to be unable to see Hedwig, I highly recommend Spike Lee’s film of a live performance of Passing Strange.