Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo Actor Jenn Colella talks about befriending the real-life inspiration behind her character in the Broadway musical Come From Away. Then, she plays a game about Broadway musical-related tattoos.
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Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo

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Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo

Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo

Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo

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Jenn Colella appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York. Mike Katzif/NPR hide caption

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Mike Katzif/NPR

Jenn Colella appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Mike Katzif/NPR

According to actor Jenn Colella, growing up in South Carolina meant she didn't have a lot of exposure to Broadway musicals as a child. So when she saw Phantom of the Opera at the age of 18, it left quite an impression. "I was just blown away, I had never heard anything so beautiful," Colella told host Ophira Eisenberg. "It was the moment I decided I was going to do this." So she went and got a tattoo of the Phantom of the Opera mask on her bicep, mark of her dedication to musical theater.

After spending some time as a singer in a rock band called The Soul Divers, and then trying her hand as a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles, in 2003 Colella landed the role of Sissy in Urban Cowboy, which earned her an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Coincidentally, the show was playing directly next door to Phantom, so Colella decided to change her tattoo to a star to mark her new role. Said Colella, "I knew that I wanted a star because they represent guidance and light...but Phantom's under there!"

Since then, Colella has been a Broadway musical staple, with prominent roles in High Fidelity, Chaplin, and If/Then. Her current role, playing two characters in the 2017 musical "Come From Away," earned her an Outer Critics Circle award and a Tony Award nomination. A musical based on some unlikely source material, Come From Away tells the true story of a group of airline passengers who, during the September 11th attacks, ended up stranded in a small Canadian town. Each actor in the ensemble plays multiple roles, and Colella has become close to one of the main characters she portrays in the musical, Beverley Bass, the first female captain at American Airlines. "Captain Bass is a dear friend of mine, she's seen the show over 100 times now," said Colella. Getting to know Bass and learning her stories brought Colella closer to the material and helped shape her performance. "I've added a couple of mannerisms that she does, when we sit for interviews, we end up sitting the same way...we've become little buddies. It's sweet."

For her Ask Me Another challenge, we scoured the internet for images of tattoos inspired by particular Broadway musicals, and we asked Colella to guess the musicals based on their descriptions.


HIGHLIGHTS

On fans who have tattoos inspired by her musicals

"Our fans are reminding us that what we're doing is important ... that this show isn't just entertainment, but it's about kindness, and compassion, and being the best person we can be."

On being the singer in a rock band

"We would play .. really great venues where there's plastic cups, and it's loud, and I would stage-dive and wear leather and fling my shirt off – it was fun times!"

Heard on Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo.