“The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be”… Jennifer Nettles!
The big announcement that the country star will make her Broadway debut in Chicago as the iconic Roxie Hart came Tuesday morning (Dec. 9) and may have surprised a few of you.
Is it really that surprising, though?
I think not. For starters, it’s hardly the first time a country gal has hit the Broadway stage. Remember Reba McEntire’s starring role in Annie Get Your Gun back in 2001? She was a natural!
One year ago, Carrie Underwood beautifully took on the role of Maria von Trapp in NBC’s live broadcast of The Sound of Music, which was basically Broadway on television.
And Kellie Pickler has done nothing but dodge questions about a possible Broadway detour in her career since winning on Dancing With the Stars last year.
So Georgia native Nettles, as far as I can see, has this one on lockdown. Lest we forget, even in her country career — whether as a member of Sugarland or as a solo artist — she’s always shown a flair for storytelling and theatrics.
Songs like “Baby Girl” and “Stay” were so incredibly story and character-driven. Heck, the video for the latter was like watching a dramatic mini-movie.
She’s not afraid to lose herself completely in the moment for the sake of a delivering a message. That dedication carries over into her live shows, too.
The lights, the video, the dancing, the machinery, the epic magic of those Sugarland shows — even the more stripped-down, subtle and intimate moments of her solo shows like her powerful performance of the “His Hands” with Grammy nominee Brandy Clark — cut straight to the heart and soul. That’s because Nettles truly immerses herself in the moment and performs. She never hides behind the oft-employed tricks of the industry. (I’m talking about you, auto-tune.)
It’s exactly why she will ace this star turn in the revival of the Tony-award winning musical at the Ambassador Theatre. She has no intentions of phoning it in.
“In other parts of the industry, you can be auto-tuned and fixed up so that your personality and looks can carry you,” Nettles said while making the announcement on NBC’s Today. “Not on Broadway. Not on that stage. You gotta bring it!”
And if anyone can bring it, Nettles can.