Like many other budding thespians, Jenny Leona first found Our Town in a high school drama class. She got to do the scene where Emily, the play’s young heroine, snaps peas and worries whether she’s pretty enough to find love. “You’re pretty enough for all normal purposes,” her mother tells her.
“Reading it since then, there is so much more there than I remember,” Leona said, tackling the role at Long Wharf that she had a glancing chance at as a young girl. “I’m doing this play at the perfect time in my life right now. I’m really dialed into this role.”
Jenny got her Equity Card from the theatre in last year’s production of The Underpants. When the 2014-15 season was announced, Leona, like any good actor, started looking for a job. She wrote Gordon Edelstein a note saying that she thought she had the right chops to play Emily Webb. That note got her … an audition for Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Then she read an excerpt from Bad Jews by Josh Harmon at Long Wharf’s season announcement event. “I assumed that would be my only contribution to the season,” she said.
Edelstein called her shortly thereafter and offered her the role of Emily. “I was ecstatic. It wasn’t until I had the role that I realized how much I wanted it,” she said.
She jumped into the script, reading it several times before she ever set foot in a rehearsal hall. Our Town has a different effect on everyone, and in Leona’s case she reflected on a childhood spent moving around, from cities to rural areas, making friends and losing them. Community, in her life, was a fluid thing. “Looking back on my life, there were certainly times that went by where I wasn’t really seeing,” she said. “I can associate with the play much more now.”
— Steve Scarpa