Amy Rodriguez (21BA) remembers working as a student stagehand at Hancher, walking out on stage and imagining what it would be like to perform in front of an audience there.
Rodriguez’s chance to shine comes this February when the touring Broadway production of Hairspray brings the University of Iowa theatre arts alumna back to the Hancher stage as the standby for Tracy Turnblad. Rodriguez will play the musical’s lead character for the 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday, Feb. 24, and the 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Feb. 25. “It’s a very cool, full-circle moment for me,” she says.
Rodriguez previously played Turnblad on a Royal Caribbean cruise for a year before moving to New York and landing the standby touring role. “My final callback for Hairspray was actually on my one-month anniversary of living in the city,” she says, “so I felt like I was definitely in the right place at the right time for the show.”
The Iowa grad now looks forward to returning to the venue where she once assisted backstage for touring productions of Rent and Les Misérables. She’s treating the weekend in Iowa City as a reunion, reconnecting with family and friends over meals at the Bluebird Diner and Nodo. Rodriguez’s former boss, Hancher operations director Danielle Borden Wilbanks (08MFA), will join her backstage, while past theatre arts professors and classmates will cheer her on from the audience. The Iowa City tour stop is also the closest show to attend for her family from Schaumburg, Illinois—including her younger sister, an Iowa student.
Beyond the tour, Rodriguez says another dream would be to act for Broadway in Chicago. “It would be good to get to perform at the theaters where I grew up seeing the professional shows come through,” she says. “That’s one of my ultimate goals.”