“Don’t let “type” discourage you from pursuing roles you’re drawn to.” – Chatting with TOOTSIE’s Britney Coleman

  • Kevin Ray Johnson

I would like you to meet Britney Coleman. Britney will be performing in the ensemble of Tootsie on Broadway at The Marquis Theatre.

She has also been seen on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (a show she also performed in the 1st National Tour). She has also performed with well respected regional companies such as Westport Country Playhouse, The Muny, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), The Old Globe, North Shore Music Theatre, and The Asolo Repertory Theatre. I am very thankful to have the chance to interview this very talented artist!

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?

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My elementary school did a production of The Secret Garden when I was in third grade. I would have been 8 or 9 by that point? My choir teacher at the time, Jeff Willets, had the whole school participate in the musical, and we all had to audition for the bigger roles outside of the chorus. I ended up getting cast as Mary! If it hadn’t been for Jeff, I would never have discovered my voice and my love of storytelling so early on.

Where did you study? Are there any mentors that truly helped make you the performer you are today?

The majority of my music education came from attending public school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My private voice and violin teachers were introduced to me through the school’s choirs and orchestras. Yay public school! I then went to college for a BFA in Musical Theater down the road from my house at The University of Michigan. There isn’t enough room on the page to list every mentor and the reasons why they’ve made me the performer I am today. To name (most of) them in addition to Jeff Willets, I have to thank my voice teachers and choir directors Megan Lizama, Wendy Bloom, Caroline Helton, Bonnie Kidd and Richard Ingram for a strong, mostly classical vocal foundation. Directors BJ Wallingford and Mark Madama were instrumental in opening my eyes to roles I would have never considered inhabiting while I was in high school and college. Had it not been for them, I would have been pretty discouraged going into this business, trying to fit into boxes I couldn’t truly thrive in.

Congratulations on Tootsie! What are you most excited for about this show?

This is my first time being in the original company of something big and brand new, so I’m excited for all of the pageantry that comes with it. I’m also excited for musical theater lovers to experience the show—there are a lot of goodies sprinkled throughout just for them!

Are there any shows (prior to Tootsie) that will always be near and dear to your heart?

The Sunset Boulevard revival was my Broadway debut and we were absolutely spoiled as a company from day one. The London principal cast was brought over for the Broadway production and I was cast as the Betty understudy and the ensemble part of Heather. Glenn Close was a dream of a leading lady with her warmth and humility, and Lonny Price directed with such intelligence, kindness and positivity...It set the bar very, very high for any room I’ve managed to be in since. I still can’t believe that was my debut!! I’ve also managed to be in a production of Into the Woods at every major stage of my career: I played the Baker’s Wife in high school, Florinda in college, Rapunzel in my first Equity show and Cinderella (wearing the OBC costumes! I cried putting on that ball gown in my first fitting) was the last show I did regionally before my Broadway debut. I’m hoping to have played every character by the time I retire!

What advice would you give young performers who want a career in this business?

Embrace what makes you different and use it to your advantage. Don’t let “type” discourage you from pursuing roles you’re drawn to. Do the work, bring your a-game into the room and own it. Have patience and trust your work!

To learn more about Britney please visit – www.britneycoleman.com and to learn more about Tootsie on Broadway you can visit – www.tootsiemusical.com