Friday, February 27, 2015
JODI STEVENS: HER STAR IS RISING
As a successful juggling act, Jodi admits, "I wouldn't change it for the world." On the morning we spoke, at 8:15 a.m., she was preparing to mentor a class of eleven eighth graders at a middle school in Weston, conducting a master class in the performing arts. She teaches her eager students how to do mock auditions by preparing songs or monologues and has even taken them to New York City to visit her agent, go to Actors Equity or see a Broadway play.
Then she could be off to dance class or the gym, to care for aging parents, to teach a private class out of her home, to head to NYC for an audition, to fulfill the 101 artistic needs she has as well as the needs of her son and husband, Scott Bryce, a film producer and TV actor. She is continually "reinventing myself." A special love is the extraordinary program she leads for mothers and babies "Music Together," for kids newborn to six, to instill basic music competency, like learning how to listen and she delights in "watching children blossom." This Bridgeport outreach program has just lost its funding so you can add fundraising to Jodi Stevens' list of accomplishments.
This Energizer Bunny credits her amazing support team at home with allowing her the freedom to pursue her many activities. A favorite teacher once told her, "If you want to work on your art, you have to work on your life," a lesson she has carefully cultivated. Her artistic family, her mom and grandfather were involved in a band, her dad is a painter, Arthur Miller is a distant relative, all combined to push her to perform. "They always forced me to perform and I didn't want to do it. I wanted to be different." Something happened in junior high school, however, that changed her path. "I auditioned for the play "I Ought to be in Pictures" and even though I didn't get the part, the emotional work I did started me on a journey I didn't want to stop. It was a delicious experience under extraordinary circumstances. I began to fantasize. I had found my real outlet, my team sport."
Theater has continued to open doors for this talented lady. She is "passionate" about playing roles like Marlena Dietrich, found Velma Von Tussle in "Hairspray" at Summer Theater of New Canaan "so much fun," and being with her husband Scott Bryce in "Love Letters" and Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" were all wonderful experiences. She gravitates toward playing wayward girls like Lucy in "Jekyll and Hyde" and whether it's Sam Shepard or Sondheim, or Shakespeare, Stephens is ready for the challenge. If she had her way, she'd love to play the witch in "Into the Woods," 101 parts in Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps," or Carole King in "Beautiful." A girl can dream, can't she? Theater is clearly where she belongs.
As for her newest gig, her own cabaret show, "A Broad's Way," coming to Music Theatre of Connecticut on Saturday, March 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m., she has spent years creating a show where she sings and tells funny stories, colorful tales about the characters she has met along the way, the romantic heartbreaks that momentarily stopped her, promising to "change the names to protect the guilty." From Broadway and beyond, she has found "my own voice," and looks forward to inviting the MTC audience into "my living room for entertainment and fun and authentic connections, like they went through it with me. I intentionally plan to break the fourth wall."
For tickets ($30-40), with a complimentary glass of wine, call MTC, 509 Westport Avenue, Norwalk (behind Jones of New York and Nine West outlet) at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com.
Come see Jodi Stevens alternately sparkle and sizzle, with Broadway and pop tunes like Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and favorite standards like "That Old Devil Moon," sprinkling anecdotes from her technicolor career like so many bonbons along the way. You're sure to still love her tonight as well as tomorrow.