Less than a year after she left Broadway and the original cast of Hamilton, Tony nominee Phillipa Soo returns in the title role of Amélie, a New Musical at the Walter Kerr. She’s already on familiar terms with taking chances on brand-new shows: Soo originated the role of Natasha in Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 (now playing at the Imperial) in its Off-Broadway incarnation, and Schuyler sister Eliza in Hamilton—which she was part of from its early development through its Off-Broadway and Broadway debuts.
Developing a new musical can be an uncertain process, but Soo has learned to embrace it rather than shy away. “There is a certain vulnerability to creating art and putting it out in the world for the first time,” she says, “but again, there’s a kind of thrill to that as well.” This sense of adventure and a desire to take risks is a quality that Soo shares with Amélie, the charming Parisian waitress at the heart of this adaptation of the 2001 French film.
Directed by Pam MacKinnon with a book by Craig Lucas and songs by Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen, Amélie follows a woman whose boundless imagination propels her through life even as her shyness has imposed a mostly isolated existence. Bringing Amélie to life has allowed Soo to recognize the beauty in opening herself up to new people and experiences. “It made me realize that vulnerability, and that sort of uneasy feeling of being scared or uncertain, is not necessarily a bad feeling,” she says. “That maybe when you’re opening yourself up to something else, to discovering something new, or to a different person, [you are] ultimately changing and being better for it.”
When it comes to new musicals, for Soo, the payoff lies in being a key player in the development of the story and its characters. “[There is a] freedom because you are making up the rules,” she says. “You are carving out a story. You and your colleagues are trying to make something that is bigger than yourself. Although it can be a scary experience because you’re putting your work out on the line, it’s also incredibly rewarding because a lot of it comes from you.”
And after nearly a year’s absence, Soo looks forward to being back on Broadway and back in New York. “It’s so cool to be a part of the community again,” she says. “Just for me personally, I’m looking forward to the spring and taking advantage of how wonderful the city is at this time.”