Jillian Mueller is currently playing Alex Owens in the national tour of Flashdance-The Musical which concludes it’s DC engagement this Sunday at Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre. No stranger to the road, Jillian has been seen in the first national touring companies of Memphis and American Idiot. On Broadway Jillian appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Bye Bye Birdie and two holiday seasons of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She has appeared on CBS in the series A Gifted Man. Jillian falls into the category of a triple threat performer. She can act, sing, and of course dance which is imperative for Flashdance-The Musical. When she takes the stage as Alex, her characterization is of someone you want to succeed. You’re rooting for her the entire performance. Then there is Jillian’s eleven o’clock song called “Let Go” which in my opinion is one of the best vocal performances I’ve ever heard. After two plus hours of intense acting and dancing, Jillian hit the song out of the park and left me in total awe. There is not much time left before Flashdance-The Musical leaves town so grab your legwarmers and get over to Kennedy Center this week. Jillian’s performance is one you won’t soon forget and here’s hoping she returns to the area soon in another production.
Was your audition for Flashdance- The Musical more dance-based since it is built around the lead character being a strong dancer?
The dance auditions for this show were definitely more intense than others. I originally auditioned for this show about a year and a half ago, when it was first going out on tour. I was auditioning to be part of the ensemble and cover some of the principals. I did a six hour dance call including about four dance routines ranging from hip-hop to pointe. I wasn’t quite right for that part. Months later, when the role of Alex was opening up, Sergio (our choreographer/director) and casting director called me in to audition. I only had one dance audition that time, but they made all of the girls auditioning do “The Final Dance” – one at a time. That was crazy.
How do you best describe the character of Alex Owens ?
She’s very independent and prides herself on the fact that everything she’s gotten in life has been from will and hard work. She’s strong, feisty and determined. But she still feels self-doubt and like she may not be good enough when it comes to following her dreams and letting herself fall in love.
What is a typical nightly warm up like for you?
I do a quick vocal warm-up when I wake up. Then I get to the theater about an hour before the show and do my make-up, pin-curls and get my wig put on. That’s about it.
Your eleven o’clock song called “Let Go” is one of the best performances I’ve heard all year. After doing all of the acting and dance leading up to it, how do you hit that song perfectly eight times a week?
I don’t know about hitting it “perfectly” every night, but thank you. It’s one of the last moments in the show. Luckily the song is an emotional one and is a moment when Alex feels emotionally drained, and being that I just danced and sang for two hours leading up to it and feel exhausted by the time it comes, it’s easy to feel that way. No matter how tired or worn-out my voice is, I am able to have an emotional connection to what I’m singing about and trust my vocal technique; it just comes out.
What advice can you give to a young performer about touring?
Make the most of it! This is my 3rd tour and I’ve seen people do and see everything they possibly can and others kind of resent that they’re not in their own home or in one place. That’s so boring. You get the opportunity to see the country on someone else’s dime while doing it with 50 other people (your cast and crew). That’s so cool. Enjoy it. Of course you’re going to miss home and friends sometimes, but this time when you’re young and on tour is usually so short-lived. Soak it up. It’s life experience. I’ve been to some of the coolest places and met some of the most interesting people. Don’t stay in your room…go out!