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Art by Jason Simon

Token Theatre Friends: Alice Ripley Sings ‘Jolene’ To Us (Seriously)

The Friends talk to the star of the original ‘Next to Normal’ about her newest one-woman show. Plus, reviews of ‘Caroline, or Change,’ ‘Paul Swan is Dead and Gone,’ and ‘Tootsie.’

Twice a month on the Token Theatre Friends video series and podcasts, theatre critics (and theatre besties) Jose Solís and Diep Tran bring a POC perspective to the performing arts.

This week they talk to Tony winner Alice Ripley, who currently stars in The Pink Unicorn (running until June 2), a one-woman play by Elise Forier Edie in which Ripley plays Trisha Lee, a conservative Christian widow from a small Texas town who must reevaluate her prejudices when her daughter Jolene comes out as gender-nonconforming. The Friends talk to Ripley about the shifts in her career as she’s gone from starring in iconic musicals like Next to Normal and Side Show to more intimate productions. Ripley also discusses her process and even sings them a Dolly Parton classic.

The audio of the interview is also available on the podcast, where the Friends review three shows currently playing in New York City:

Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, at Astoria Performing Arts Center through May 25 ($20 – $25). LaDonna Burns takes on the part made famous by Tonya Pinkins, in a musical about a Black maid trying to make ends meet in 1963 Louisiana. If you want a great-quality musical for cheap, use your spare change to buy some tickets! Plus: Read Jose’s interview with Burns here.

Paul Swan is Dead and Gone by Claire Kiechel at Torn Page through May 19 ($35 – $45). Paul Swan was once called “the most beautiful man in the world,” and yet very few people know about him. This immersive show by the Civilians recreates one of his famous salons, as we enter a world of decadence, music, poetry, and haunting memories.

Tootsie by David Yazbek and Robert Horn at the Marquis Theatre in an open run ($79 – $200). In this musical adaptation of the 1982 film, Santino Fontana plays an arrogant, entitled actor who figures he might be cast in shows if he pretends he’s a woman. It works for the character, but does it work for audiences in 2019? Should we be seeing this through the lens of social justice, or should we just sit back and enjoy the show?

Download the episode here.

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Have comments, suggestions for segments, shows to plug, or thoughts on how the Friends can be even better? Contact the Token Theatre Friends via email or Twitter.

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