GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): You’re currently working on a new production, Fly, which has been said to be a darker version of Peter Pan. How would you describe it?
Jenny Laroche: It’s the original story of Peter Pan. I guess it’s a little darker; just by the setting and lighting. The storyline is really the original Jean Barrie version that was written in 1910. It’s the [tale] of Peter and Wendy coming into innocence and trying to avoid adulthood. They really just want to be free. It’s more that storyline rather than the fighting between Peter Pan and Hook.
GMO: What role do you play the musical?
Jenny: I’m part of the ensemble of eight women. We are Never Land, so we come to life. It’s a little ‘Lion King-esque’ in terms of the set comes to life. That’s basically what I’ll be doing. We also have the pirates, the Lost Boys and all of the elements of the Peter Pan story.
GMO: It’s very cool that you’ll be singing in this production! Is this your first time singing professionally?
Jenny: I mostly dance and I’m transitioning more into acting, but it’s not my first time singing. I had a performance in the Fringe Theatre Festival where I did a show called Scandalous People and I played Sienna. It was directed by Fredi Walker-Browne. She was part of the original cast of Rent on Broadway, so working with her was great! That was the first time I really got used to being a triple threat singing, dancing and acting all on stage and live theatre. Now that I’m not doing Radio City, I feel like I have more time and freedom to do what I want, and not do just acting or dancing. So I’m kind of going across the board.
GMO: You’ve had the chance to act, dance and now sing. You’re also on Smash, a show about a group of talented performers whose dream is to be a hit on Broadway. Is being on Broadway something you aspire for yourself too?
Jenny: Fly is expected to go to Broadway, so that would be my first debut! Right now, I’m in that crossroad. My goals are more film than TV. I’ve done TV, I love it and I’ll continue doing that. I also want to do Broadway, but my main goal is film. [I’m working on] a future project that would be going toward my future goal.
GMO: Your background includes dancing for groups like The Rockettes and performing with Beyonce. Now, you’re becoming even more recognized for your character Sue in Smash. How did you transition from dancing to your role in the show?
Jenny: I was a Radio City Rockette for four seasons and I started my contract. It was going to be my first year at the Music Hall, which I was really excited about. I auditioned for a dance scene in Smash two months prior. They asked, “Hey, can you come and read lines for us?” And I was like, “Yeah that would be amazing!” So I did and then they hired me.
It kind of pulled me out of Radio City. At the time it was a really tough decision because they weren’t offering me a season contract on Smash. They were offering a few episodes, so it was a testing phase. I ended up leaving my full-time job at a company I’d been with for four years. I took a risk and did something that I really wanted to do and hoped for the best. A few episodes turned into a season, which then turned into two seasons, so it really worked out for me.
GMO: What is your character Sue like?
Jenny: When I was cast, they were looking for a long-legged, hot female to play a member of the ensemble that befriends the lead [portrayed by singer, model and actress Katharine McPhee], who’s been around the business, knows her way and can take her under her wing and be the go-to girl. So, I became hot-legged Sue in the ensemble who kind of brought that whole friendship to life.
GMO: You mentioned earlier that you’re getting used to being a triple threat as far as dancing, acting and now singing. How does it feel to have accomplished all of that already?
Jenny: It’s awesome and a learning process. To me, I’ve been training my dancing since I was three-years-old and started when I got to college. Singing wasn’t my primary focus, I just knew that in order to be on Broadway I had to be able to do it all [dance, act and sing]. I didn’t take it as seriously, but once I started booking jobs I was like “OK, I really need to hone in on this skill.” I didn’t want my singing to be mediocre and my dancing to be at an advanced level, so it’s a learning lesson. I continue to take voice lessons and improve my range because in this day and age, I feel like a lot of Broadway shows are hiring ensemble members that can really cover the lead roles, so it makes it even harder. I feel like I’m still expanding on my vocal range and style so that I can book more work.
GMO: You have a lot of areas that you’ve mastered and showcased in various avenues. What hidden talents do you have that people don’t know about?
Jenny: Actually, I tumble, which a lot of people don’t know. I’m 5’9, so people assume that acrobatics is not my thing. I did gymnastics when I was younger and then I was a cheerleader, so at one point in my life I was really big on being the next Dominique Dawes and then my height kicked in and I was like ‘Yeah that’s a no go.’
GMO: You also teach and inspire others who want to dance. Where do you get your motivation to teach?
Jenny: Oh, that’s easy! Right now, I’m training the lead actress for Fly. She’s 11 and she wants her dancing to be as great as her singing and acting. Every time I teach someone, I always begin with technique and how it’s going to get the performer to the next level. In this business, you can’t go anywhere without technique.
I always look at the kids that I’m teaching and I think: “What are they missing? How can they improve?” And I pay attention to how they learn. Some are visual learners and some try then take correction. I think about if it was me at a young age, what would I need to know to get to the level I want to be at?
I just want to add on a high note that this career and industry isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s so rewarding and worth it to do what you truly love. I know so many young performers who are afraid to take a risk and try something new. So I like to say, “Always aim high and reach for the stars!”
GMO: How can your fans reach you?