Before platinum singles like “The Way I Am” and “Girls Chase Boys” brought her a major fan following, fabulous indie rocker Ingrid Michaelson wanted to be a Broadway baby. She majored in musical theater at Binghamton University, scoring the role of Dot in her college production of Sunday in the Park with George. While teaching theater kids after graduation, she made fairy wings from curtains for her a “highly abridged” production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She first laid eyes on her Broadway beau Will Chase when she caught him from the audience in Rent as “the squeegee man” (“He had the ‘meatless balls’ line in ‘La Vie Boheme.’”).
Now, she’s making her Broadway debut as Sonya in the Tony-nominated musical Nastasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Not unlike the musical's source material War and Peace, her road to the Great While Way has been a journey. The same distinctive vocals that put her on the map in the music industry were unconventional in a musical theater audition room. “Not often do I feel that someone like me can actually excel at a [classic musical theater] role vocally,” said Michaelson. “I remember going on audition after audition after audition. Finally, I just gave it up.”
That is until Dave Malloy’s highly innovative musical came along, gladly taking Michaelson the way she is. She first experienced Great Comet like a true theater enthusiast—from the audience as a fan. Taking in Brittain Ashford’s unique vocals as Sonya, Michaelson felt she found her fit. “That’s the only time I saw a musical and thought, ‘I could do that!’ Brittain’s voice is so interesting and beautiful and different,” Michaelson said. “Broadway is opening its arms to the nontraditional singer. This show should really be applauded for that.”
After weeks of rehearsing “Balaga” in her living room and “Sonya Alone” at the Imperial, Michaelson is living her “very surreal, very wonderul” Broadway dream eight times a week. “That whole first show was a blur of adrenaline,” she said. “Every night, I stand on stage during the last song, and it gives me time to reflect. Dreams do come true. They really do!”
Fans can catch Michaelson in Great Comet through August 13, and this isn’t the last we’ll hear from her on the Great White Way. As previously announced, Michaelson is penning a musical of her own. “There are forces a’brewing,” she confirmed. “I have been taking meetings with lots of different producers and writers. Things are forming. That’s all I can say. In the next year, something’s going to happen.”