Joanna Levesque, better known to pop music fans as JoJo, emerged as a big name in the music industry at the age of 13 with her self-titled album. This year, she made her Broadway debut as Satine in "Moulin Rouge! The Musical."
In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Levesque chats with Paul Wontorek about what she’s learned from the experience, as well as how she’s had to adjust.
“I was so excited to make it through that first performance,” Levesque told Wontorek of her first night on Broadway. After battling opening night nerves — specifically regarding her signature entrance on a giant swing lowered from the rafters — the pop singer is finally having fun.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Levesque said. As a theater and pop-music lover, she said “Moulin Rouge” (which showcases a score of 71 pop songs) is the perfect combination. Though her music background suits the musical and the role, Levesque still made vocal adjustments for the stage.
“I’m singing from a totally different part of myself,” Levesque shared. “This is an opportunity for me to take the stuff I’ve been studying with my vocal teacher and put it into practice.”
Levesque was quick to note the differences between studio recording and live singing from a technical perspective. In the recording studio, singers have the liberty to oversing or blow out their voices, breathe in the wrong places or add vocal fry.
“You can’t do that here,” she said. “I literally won’t survive unless I learn to sing from a healthier place.”
Still, she accepted the challenge of learning and adapting to the demands of Broadway. She recently extended her run by two weeks and will now remain with the production through July 30.
“To have almost 20 years of professional experience under my belt and be doing things for the first time, that’s something very exciting for me,” she said.
In addition to Levesque’s interview, this week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” features some of the 2023 Tony Award nominees, including Nikki Crawford of “Fat Ham,” Josh Groban of “Sweeney Todd,” Sean Hayes of “Good Night, Oscar,” Sara Bareilles of “Into the Woods,” Corey Hawkins of “Topdog/Underdog,” Wendell Pierce of “Death of a Salesman,” Ben Platt of “Parade” and J. Harrison Ghee of “Some Like It Hot.” The episode also features the return of the “Ham4Ham” live mini-concert from the steps of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, featuring the combined casts of “Sweeney Todd” and “Hamilton.” Later in the episode, Charlie Cooper walks and talks with “Camelot” star Jordan Donica. Current Roxie Hart in “Chicago,” Olivia Holt, gets her moment in this week’s “Fresh Face” segment. Beth Stevens talks to the Tony-nominated book writer of “Shucked,” Robert Horn, in the latest “Building Broadway” segment.