Jessica Vosk is a celebrated singer and actress known for stirring roles on the musical theater and concert stage – and she has just kicked off her “MY GOLDEN AGE” US tour starting in Utah and will be visiting your area shortly! You may recognize Jessica from blockbuster Broadway roles like Elphaba in WICKED, Fruma Sarah in the 2015 revival of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, or as the Narrator in the 50th anniversary of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Lincoln Center. She also made her Carnegie Hall solo concert debut in November 2021 and then had a return engagement the following year. I had the opportunity to catch up with her before the launch of this new concert tour.
BWW: Hello, Jessica! Where in the county are you today?
Jessica: I just got to Utah. [The tour will be] starting on the West Coast, heading east. But, I’ve never been here before! I always love a new place.
BWW: Fantastic! Well, let’s just jump right in so you can get some rest. [laugh] Tell me, how did you get started performing?
Jessica: I think I had a love of it as a real young kid. I have been told – and there is photographic evidence – of me at 6 months old carrying around a wooden spoon and a pot to play the drums on as I would get wheeled around in a stroller. Bless whoever had to take me outside and listen to my percussion! But, my parents say that I started speaking and singing around 6 months, so I always had this musical nature within me. My parents both had such a love of music as listeners, and my dad was in a band when I was a little kid, so I sort of had it around me.
BWW: You inherited it!
Jessica: I think I did! I think I did. My dad had a record player and his old microphone because he left the band and got a “real” job. I kind of just ran around the house pretending I was a singer all the time. I think I was bit pretty early on by “the bug.”
BWW: You and your dad were performers, then. Do you have other family members who perform as well?
Jessica: I do. My brother’s name is Daniel Vosk. He went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and he’s a phenomenal guitar player! He and I have written a couple of songs together that we’ve never published, but I’m starting to think we should put some music out at this point. He’s super talented.
BWW: So, you grew up singing and performing. What kind of performing did you do when you were younger?
Jessica: Well, I want to say there were one or two community theaters in the town in New Jersey where I grew up. I did the whole community theater thing and cool productions like PETER PAN and REALLY ROSIE. All those things that made me feel like I was a professional performer at age 7. Like you do. There’s a camaraderie in it. You learn so much about what it’s like to just communicate with people and tell a story. And you’re around so many different types of people, so you become a very well-rounded kid. I look back on it and think how lucky I was to get to do it.
BWW: Did you continue performing through Junior High and High School?
Jessica: I did! I performed in all of the high school musicals and, my senior year, I played Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. The time of my life! I [also] did choir in school all the way up until I graduated. It was just the best. There is something about music that I still try to impart upon people: it doesn’t matter where you are, how old you are, who you are, where you’re from, we all know the same songs and when we hear them, it just brings people together. It’s incredibly special.
BWW: Then, you went off to college – and decide to not pursue theater in school?
Jessica: I know…what a loose cannon! I thought, after high school, that I wanted to go to college for musical theater and I subsequently went to the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. They have a great BFA program. But, it just sort of didn’t gel with what I was looking to do. Of course, I was 18-19…what did I know?! I just knew that I wanted to be doing it for real, and I just wasn’t getting the chance to do it for real. I don’t know if I didn’t love being in classroom settings. It just didn’t jive with me, and so I told my parents that I didn’t want to go there anymore, and I’d much prefer to just come back and audition on my own. They said, “Well…you DO have to finish school.” I’m saying that to you much nicer than it was said to me. [laughs] It was more like, “If you don’t finish school, young lady, you will DIE.” [laughs] So, naturally, I thought about it. They said, “Why don’t you just choose something different?” So, I did: I went into Communications and Investor Relations and wound up getting a job in Manhattan at a corporate cubicle learning a dictionary of investment terms. I thought it would make my parents happy and proud.
BWW: Did it work?
Jessica: It did! They were thrilled that I had health insurance and a pay check coming in biweekly. They knew that I was good at my job. So, when I told them that I wanted to leave, I wouldn’t say they were as thrilled about it. Truth be told, they were like, “What?!” They were surprised – and I think they were really nervous. I was leaving a job in finance when the market was crashing in ’08, when all of the bank loans were going bad and the big banks were shutting down. People were doing layoffs. It was a pretty scary time for job security – and knowing that I could have kept my job and I decided to still walk away was a big red flag. Now they’re okay! But it took a little time.
BWW: What inspired you to make that jump? It’s a bold move!
Jessica: I will say it was a massive pivot in my life. It’s a huge deal when you’re a girl in your 20s, getting people to see you as a serious person in that field. And I was doing the thing and it was going really well. And I kept getting promoted – which was incredible within the corporate world, being a woman just getting out of college and rising up the corporate ladder of success. And the more I would get promoted, the more anxious and stressed and panic-filled I would get. I didn’t understand what anxiety attacks or panic attacks were. They were completely foreign to me – but I certainly was having them. And I think that was a pretty big catalyst at the time. That, paired with the fact that I had just gone completely silent with anything art-related in my life. I refused to see any shows. I refused to go to any concerts. I refused to sing. I refused to do anything because I think I was secretly pretty pissed that I wasn’t doing it! All of that led to me crossing my fingers and watching the market crash and going into the HR office and saying, “Um, if anybody needs to lay anybody off, I volunteer as tribute!” She’s a risk taker. I still am a risk taker in every way, shape and form. I live my life that way. I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing stopping you from doing whatever it is that you want to do. It’s possible!
BWW: And you’ve shown that with what you’ve done since then. You’ve now performed in several Broadways shows and been at Carnegie Hall! Since coming back to the theater world, what have been those shining moments where you look back in awe and say, “I did that!”?
Jessica: You know, in times like this after a pandemic, it’s a very weird place to be because you feel like you haven’t accomplished that much because it’s been three years of weirdness. But, then I look back and think, well, I played Carnegie Hall twice in the past year. [Before that,] I got to lead a company by playing Elphaba in WICKED for two years. One of those years was WICKED’s 15th anniversary on Broadway! It’s been a really incredible ride. I made my Broadway debut when I was 30…by all standards in the theater world, that’s geriatric! [I’ve seen] what it’s like to be a kid in your 20s and you graduate, coming from a great program, and you land yourself a role on Broadway. It’s the most exciting thing. It’s a very different feeling when you’re coming from an entirely different career to make that leap. But, somehow I did it! It took – and still takes! – a lot of hustle and a lot of luck and right place/right time. But, as much luck as it takes, you still have to be prepared to walk through the door. So, I am really proud of those moments, like when I got the call that I was going to play Elphaba. Or, when I got the call that I was going to make my Broadway debut. These are the things that you say to yourself, “Wow. I worked so hard for this.” People don’t often see the behind-the-scenes of it all.
BWW: I love that. So, now you are now launching a national concert tour. Tell me about the concert! What is the inspiration behind this new venture?
Jessica: In putting together my first Carnegie Hall show, my solo debut at that venue, I really wanted it to be something special that showed a lot of why I am here and the things that inspire me. We often talk about the “Golden Age” of music, which is pretty specific in its parameters. But, I wanted to talk about what MY ever-changing Golden Age of music was and is. I grew up with artists like Linda Ronstadt or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Joni Mitchell alongside Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber and massive Broadway composers who you would consider quite traditional: Rodgers & Hart or Rodgers & Hammerstein, you name it. And I still consider both of those genres my Golden Age of music. It’s a very inspirational thing when you’re trying to put a show together to look back at the mentors that you had in your life musically. So, I wanted to embark on this tour with a bit of a twist on that show of my Golden Age and add new material. I am not a traditional Broadway performer: I was classically trained to sing as a kid; however, I love to sing Pop and Rock. I love to sing Broadway as much as I do a Taylor Swift or Madonna song. All of that is covered on this tour.
BWW: It sounds like it will be quite the journey! What else can the audience expect?
Jessica: When it comes to concerting, something I think people are very surprised by is how much storytelling [there is] and how much my show can feel like a comedy show – which is always my goal. I am a very unscripted type person. I’m a very firm believer that the audience is the missing piece of any great concert or show: [they] hold just as much significance as those who are on stage. I like to do as much as I can to make sure my shows are interactive and to let people feel like they can sing along or be themselves in the room or, if I ask a question, someone can answer it.
BWW: And you’re kicking it off tomorrow! Congratulations! As you look forward to that show, what are you most excited about or what intimidates you?
Jessica: I’m a Jersey girl. I’m pretty sassy. I’m pretty fun, but I’m loud and I tell jokes. You’re hoping that people like you. You hope you do okay. I do love to bring people along for the ride – it’s always scary to hope these people are along for the ride, as well, and that they like what I am bringing to the table. Because it’s a mix of a bunch of different tunes. I like to give Gen Z a bit of a Millennial/Baby Boomer experience when they go, “What song was that? I’ve never heard that before?” and you’re like, “Yeah… her name’s Dolly Parton.” And at the same time, we can do the same for the Boomers and the Millennials going, “Oh! That’s the new Taylor Swift album. Or that’s a mashup of Bonnie Raitt and Jason Robert Brown.” The exciting thing for me is people not knowing what to expect and leaving with a couple of new thoughts in their head, or feeling like they could forget whatever was going on in their life for that 90 minutes of their day and have somebody bring them something special.
BWW: Well, I am really excited to see it when you arrive here in upstate NY. One last question before we go: if you could give any aspiring musicians some advice, what would that be?
Jessica: I have to remind myself of this all the time: you are exactly where you are supposed to be. There is no one path that is the “be all, end all” path to get you where you want to go. I have people ask me a lot, “How did you get to where you are and how can I do that?” My path is the most untraditional there is. But, if I hadn’t taken it, I wouldn’t have gotten here – that much I know. Have patience with yourself because it’s so hard to do. And, even though it can feel like the end of the world if something doesn’t completely go your way, it’s just because it wasn’t the right thing.
For tickets and additional information on Jessica’s MY GOLDEN AGE concert at a venue near you, see below:
January 27, 2023
Livermore, CA- Bankhead Theatre
January 29, 2023
Scottsdale, AZ- Virginia G. Piper Theater
February 5, 2023
Boston, MA- Symphony Hall
February 11, 2023
Newport News, VA- Ferguson Center for the Arts
February 14, 2023
Washington, DC- Washington Performing Arts
February 16, 2023
Portland, ME- Merrill Auditorium
February 18, 2023
Saratoga Springs, NY- UPH Great Hall
February 28, 2023
The Villages, FL- Sharon Performing Arts Center
March 2, 2023
Gainesville, FL- Upstage at the Phillips Center
March 3-4, 2023
West Palm Beach, FL- Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Playhouse
March 9, 2023
Columbus, IN- The Commons
March 10-11, 2023
Indianapolis, IN- The Cabaret
March 22, 2023
Athens, OH- Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
March 24, 2023
Broken Arrow, OK- Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center
March 25-26, 2023
Joplin, MO- Beshore Performance Hall
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