“It’s a Hard Knock Life”: Junah Jang ’20 Shares Broadway Experience

Junah Jang ’20 jumped up and squealed in excitement, clapping and exclaiming, “Seriously? Seriously?” when her parents informed her that she had gotten the part of Tessie in the Broadway musical, “Annie.” As Jang recounted in an interview with The Phillipian, her parents captured her reaction on video, which was later posted to YouTube and garnered over 35 thousand views.

“It’s one of those moments that my friends in school find online and tease me about it. Looking back on that and reliving that moment is definitely something that is fun, albeit embarrassing,” said Jang.

At the age of four, Jang began participating in her local theater in Missouri. It was there that she developed her love of acting, particularly of musical theater.

“I used to, when I was young, peer out of the curtain in this small local theater and see how many people were out there, and I’d get so excited about performing in general,” said Jang.

After one of Jang’s shows, a director approached Jang’s parents and informed them of an opportunity to audition for the Broadway production of “Annie.” Jang and her family eagerly made the seven-hour drive to the nearest audition in Nebraska.

“My mom was really skeptical at first, and my dad was like, ‘Oh, she can totally do it!’ I think that combination and going to the first audition really pushed me to be humble about the situation. I wasn’t expecting anything out of it, just more of an experience, but hey, it worked out,” said Jang.

Jang describes her experience of rehearsing and performing on Broadway as completely different from her previous experiences at her local theater. Jang recalls struggling with the grueling schedule and the stress of performing well at the mere age of ten.

“I wasn’t one of the main roles, so I didn’t have to do that really stressful experience of memorizing lines that support the entire show. We would go to dance and learn a number, and then singing and learn more numbers, and then block the numbers with the director. On some days, we would completely change a number and have to do a show that night,” said Jang.

Despite the difficulties, Jang treasures the knowledge she gained and the people she met during her experience performing on Broadway.

“I think as a ten-year-old, I didn’t fully grasp the extent of how wonderful of an experience and how important of an experience it was, and I think that’s a good thing. When I was rehearsing, I didn’t realize that my director was someone who I now admire, or my choreographer choreographed ‘Hamilton,’ and just not fully grasping those people’s talent helped with not being too intimidated and too stressed out by the show,” said Jang.

At Andover, Jang is participating in “44 Plays For 44 Presidents,” a play that is set to open in November. She also plans to audition for “A Chorus Line.”

“I would love to keep doing musicals. I mean, it’s something that’s been so rooted in my history and to do it again would be great,” said Jang.