Star of the Week: Jennifer Damiano makes her return to Broadway in American Psycho

Jennifer Damiano

By the age of 24, most people have barely begun working their first full-time job; Jennifer Damiano isn’t “most people.” At just 24 years old, Damiano already has four Broadway shows and a Tony nomination under her belt. In addition to her work on the stage, Damiano’s Twitter and Instagram accounts deserve an award of their own. Her caustic wit combined with her sentiments about everyday life that any twenty-something can relate to have made her social media accounts a daily must-see.

Before breaking onto the Broadway scene, nine-year-old Damiano could be seen as Josefina and Samantha (characters based on the American Girl dolls of the same names) in a live show at the American Girl Place. This just goes to show that Damiano has always been on top of the latest trends, even when those trends are for young kids, as American Girl dolls were the “height of sophistication” for any kid who enjoyed playing with dolls in the early 2000s.

Six years later, she joined the original ensemble of  Spring Awakening. She was the youngest member of the cast at just 15 years old, but armed with a ridiculous amount of talent and maturity beyond her years, Damiano was a strong addition to the cast. The show, of course, went on to win the acclaim of critics and audiences alike, which included the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score, among others. That’s not too shabby for a Broadway debut (or any Broadway performance, for that matter).

After a year of performing in Spring Awakening, Damiano transitioned directly into rehearsals for Next to Normal, where she would perform alongside Alice Ripley, Brian d’Arcy James, J. Robert Spencer, Aaron Tveit, and Adam Chanler-Berat. Following an Off-Broadway production and a tryout in Washington, D.C., the show eventually made its way to Broadway. Damiano played Natalie, an angst-ridden teenager whose mother struggles with bipolar disorder and hallucinations of her dead son. At 17-years-old, Damiano became a Tony nominee for this performance. 

Following her departure from Next to Normal, she joined the original cast of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in the role of Peter Parker’s love interest, Mary Jane Watson. Damiano’s pure, solid soprano voice stood out in a show that was plagued by injuries and less-than-glowing reviews.  Damiano defended the show against the negativity it was shown in the press, citing all the hard work the cast and crew had done to make the musical a fun experience for everyone involved.

Damiano left Spider-Man in November of 2011, and while she it would be a few years before she was seen in another Broadway musical, she stayed active in the community through concerts, readings, and workshops.

Broadway buzzed with excitement when Damiano’s return to the stage was announced in November 2015. American Psycho, an adaptation of the book by Bret Easton Ellis and the movie starring Christian Bale, had received positive reviews when it premiered in London. Damiano stars in the Broadway production as Jean, Patrick Bateman’s love-struck secretary who is blind to Bateman’s true character. The musical is a reunion of sorts for Damiano; the electronic 80s-inspired score is composed by Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik and Alice Ripley, who played her mother in Next to Normal, portrays Bateman’s mother and Mrs. Wolfe. Previews for the show began on March 24 and opening night is set for April 20.

It seems Damiano has a knack for modern, innovative shows that bring a little something new to Broadway. Her presence onstage infuses each show she’s in with a refreshing strength, and she brings a raw realism to every character she plays. This combined with Damiano’s effortlessly cool and candid persona makes her a true force to be reckoned with in the theatrical world.

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About Brooke R.

"Don't wait for people to tell you who you are. Show them." - Laura Benanti

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