The Saturday List: Krysta with a “Y” on Broadway

Krysta Rodriguez in First Date, The Addams Family and Spring Awakening

I’m being pulled in Krysta’s direction –
But I think I like it!

Before she was “Liza with a Z” in television’s Halston, Krysta with a “Y” was making a name for herself on Broadway – and we’re ranking five of Krysta Rodriguez’s Broadway appearances in today’s Saturday List to celebrate her birthday. In today’s column, we’re looking at shows where Rodriguez appeared in the production on opening night, so that means her appearance as a replacement Bebe in the revival of A Chorus Line is an honourable mention. Let’s go!

5. Good Vibrations (2005)

Rodriguez made her debut on Broadway in one of the main stem’s infamous flops, the Beach Boys jukebox musical, Good Vibrations. In the workshop that preceded the show’s New York debut, Rodriguez originally played the daughter of Bobby and Caroline, two star-crossed lovers who overcame their high school differences on a road trip to California, in a flash-forward at the end of the piece. After several endings and many rewrites to Richard Dresser’s book, Rodriguez ended up as a swing for the 94-performance main stem run of the show. Wild!

4. In the Heights (2008)

Between Good Vibrations and In the Heights, Rodriguez appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line and the original production of Spring Awakening. Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights saw her consolidate herself as a dependable Broadway performer as she took to the stage nightly in the ensemble of the show and understudied the roles of Nina, Vanessa and Carla. While there are clips of her taking to the stage in those roles floating around cyberspace, Rodriguez has also performed some of the show’s key numbers, like “Breathe” and “When You’re Home,” in concert and cabaret settings.

3. First Date (2013)

Rodriguez’s appearance in First Date shows how much good faith she had garnered when Austin Winsberg, Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner were developing this atypical Broadway show. Smaller in scale than the fare that usually hits the main stem, the producers were partly selling the show on her ability to sell it alongside her co-star, Zachary Levi, who brought with him credits in television and film. Although it only ran for 174 performances and was criticised for its reliance on stereotypical tropes and somewhat generic score, Rodriguez walked away with glowing reviews for her appealing performance. Her skill at creating sympathy for a character through song is on prime display in the cast recording, especially in her key number “Safer.” Listening to the recording almost a decade later, you finish off wanting to hear more of what Rodreguez has to offer.

4. Spring Awakening (2015)

How many performers can claim to have appeared in a Broadway production and its first revival? All right, there are a few – but how many have appeared in two such strikingly different productions as the original production of  Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s Spring Awakening and the Deaf West Theatre interpretation of the same material almost a decade later? In 2006, Rodriguez was in the ensemble and understudied many roles. By the time 2015 rolled around, she played Ilse and was able to put her stamp on the material. Her performance of “The Dark I Know Well” alongside Treshelle Edmond and Kathryn Gallagher with the rest of the company in support was thrilling! 

1. The Addams Family (2010)

Rodriguez delivered her most remembered stage performance as Wednesday Addams in Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa’s twisted spin on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Rodriguez introduced the number “Pulled” in the Chicago tryout and Broadway transfer of The Addams Family. Load up any clip of her performing the song on YouTube, and you’ll see the sheer talent, exuberance, vocal and physical agility, range of expression, and specificity for which she has become known. Her performance launched the song as a piece that a million teenagers sing to show they can belt their faces off – but nobody has done it better than Rodriguez!

Rodriguez has spent much of her time in the recent part of her career building television and film credits. She also beat cancer after a diagnosis in the fall of 2014, which led her to blog about her experiences on a platform she called ChemoCouture, which led to some columns for Cosmopolitan’s online health and fitness platform. While Rodriguez has been in musicals like the Hollywood Bowl production of A Chorus Line and the Delacorte Theatre run of Hercules, I’m sure many would welcome her return to Broadway. Perhaps, in a couple of years, she can be the Mame everyone has been waiting for, for so long. Or maybe, it will be in something original. Either way, we’d love to see her return!

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