Kevin Ray Johnson
Audrey Cardwell is currently starring in the National Tour of Bright Star where she is playing the central role of Alice Murphy. She has also appeared in the national tours of Cinderella (Ella), Anything Goes and Elf and has been seen regionally at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The Muny, North Shore Music Theatre, Houston Theatre Under the Stars, Dallas Summer Musicals and Pennsylvania Centre Stage. She’s also an alum of Penn State University.
When the tour of Bright Star kicked off in Los Angeles last year Ms. Cardwell was performing in the ensemble and also understudied the role of Alice Murphy (which was then played by Tony Award Nominee Carmen Cusack). She had nothing but glowing things to say about working with Cusack. “She is revolutionary. Watching her every day in rehearsal and getting to work alongside her was such a gift”, she said.
I first met Ms. Cardwell back in 2016 when we performed together in Guys and Dolls at The Asolo Repertory Theatre in Florida where she played Sarah Brown. The show was directed by Josh Rhodes. The moment I heard her amazing soprano voice, I was blown away, and I was instantly curious about how long she had been performing. Audrey stated, “I started dancing when I was 5 and instantly fell in love with performing. I loved being on stage. When I was a kid, my sister and I would constantly make our mom watch us do dances and skits that we had made up.” And at the age of 16, she decided that she wanted to make a career out of performing.
When she was a teenager, she worked very closely with the Red Mountain Theatre Company in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. “I had many teachers and mentors who supported me and helped me along my journey as a young artist, and I would not be where I am without my experiences at R.M.T.C.” Audrey also credited her voice teacher for playing a big part in finding her voice. “Mary Saunders Barton, helped me in so many ways. I don’t know where I would be without her and all that she gave me. She helped me find my voice and gave me room to grow in ways I never thought possible”.
Ms. Cardwell is married to fellow performer Andy Huntington Jones. Andy (who can currently be seen as Elder McKinley in the Book of Mormon Tour) has performed on Broadway in Cinderella, Bullets Over Broadway, and most recently as Munkustrap in the Revival of Cats. Audrey and Andy met while working at the MUNY when they were both in college. Several years later fate would have them working together in the first National Tour of Cinderella. “We got to play opposite of each other as Ella and Topher for about two months and it was a DREAM.” says Ms. Cardwell. The performing business can be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, especially for couples. I asked her how she and her husband navigate through it. “Being married and in this crazy business together is wonderful. There is a level of understanding and compassion for the difficulty of navigating auditions, show schedules, and touring demands. And we know that there is a lot of sacrifice involved to do what we love to do, and we’re both wildly supportive of each other”.
Now, I may be a bit biased but I strongly feel that the amazing talent that is Audrey Cardwell took a turn for the complete best when we shared our first moment in Guys and Dolls at Asolo Rep with me offering her a sandwich. I feel if that moment never happened, she would not be where she is now(sarcasm). I thought I would ask her what would be another (cough cough which would obviously be a distant second) favorite moment in a show and she stated “I love the opening number of Bright Star. It’s a beautiful song and the entire company is onstage together. I can feel the support and the vibrancy of the company as we share those first few minutes of our story, and it always sets me off on a good foot for the rest of the show”.
With how highly she has spoken on her experience with Bright Star it was no surprise to me when asked what is a role/ show that stands out and is near and dear to her heart she stated that -“Alice Murphy is going to stick with me forever. This is the hardest role I have ever had the opportunity of playing, and I can feel it changing me every day. It is a gift to have this experience and I will hold it in my heart always”. With her amazing journey, the final thing I was curious on was if she was able to give any advice to younger performers and her answer was “Don’t compare yourself to others. Have Fun. Give yourself room to grow. Let go of the need to be perfect. Be nice to everyone. Listen and learn from everyone. Leave your ego at the door. Be gentle with yourself. And work really, really, really, really, hard”.
Amen to that!
If you ever have the chance to see Audrey Cardwell perform, I strongly recommend it, not only because of everything she brings to a role but also because of the beautiful spirit and attitude behind the performance. She is a true triple threat. In this business, you come across a lot of people, and I will say with one-hundred percent confidence that this very talented soprano deserves all the success she has had so far and all the success that is coming her way.
And for more information on her husband’s (Andy Huntington Jones) tour of The Book of Mormon visit – http://bookofmormonbroadway.com