You oughta know more about this Broadway star

Lauren Patten talks with Watertown students about heading to Broadway with “Jagged Little Pill”


Lauren Patten was in New York City (top left) when she was interviewed by students in classrooms throughout Massachusetts about her career and her role in “Jagged Little Pill,” which will start on Broadway in November 2019.

Watertown Splash staff

In the spring of 2018, Lauren Patten played Jo in the world premiere run of “Jagged Little Pill” at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.

The show, inspired by the Alanis Morissette album, was a smash, and this November it will open on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Lauren is New York now. But on June 6, she took part in a web interview with eight Greater Boston student groups, including three from Watertown — Ms. Mulhall’s English class at Watertown High, Ms. Casey’s theater production class at Watertown Middle School, and Mr. Kirkcaldy’s journalism class at WMS.

Here are some highlights from her interview. (Transcript edited for clarity and space.)

Splash photo Courtesy Evgenia Eliseeva/A.R.T.
Lauren Patten as Jo in “Jagged Little Pill” at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in spring 2018.

Question: “What are you doing between now and November?”

Answer: “We start rehearsals in September. There’s been a few press things that we’ve shown up for … I also work on side gigs here and there … But I am also really enjoying the time to just relax and enjoy my time, see my friends. I’m a big traveller. I’m going to Guatemala for two weeks in July. So that’s also a big priority for me is to see other parts of the world. So now I get to hang out, and then in September, it’s go time.”

Question: “How does it feel to have so much pressure on you when you’re on stage?”

Answer: “The show was a really interesting thing, because I sing one of Alanis’s most famous songs, ‘You Oughta Know’. And I didn’t really think about it too much before we started doing performances, because the whole creative team was so supportive. Then when Alanis came to rehearsal she was so supportive, so I never really felt nervous singing in front of her. But then the first time I thought about it was at our very first preview, at A.R.T. It was kinda crazy because there were hundreds of people from all over the place who had flown in who were big Alanis fans, and it was really the first time it hit me that I was singing this song that people knew, and had been listening to for almost 15 years. It was kind of intense to sing it for people for the first time.

I think that first preview [performance of ‘Jagged Little Pill’] was pretty incredible, because we really didn’t know what people would think of the show.


“I was worried, you know, because I’m definitely not Alanis Morissette, but it went really well, and so after that it kind of started to get easier. But it’s interesting now, being in New York, and people anticipating the show [opening on Broadway] … and it’s kinda crazy, because we’re not even gonna be starting rehearsals for months. So it’s exciting and it’s a little scary to know that people are really looking forward to it and have heard all these things about it, and then you’re gonna be doing it. … It’s definitely better than the other way around, people like: ‘What’s that show? I’ve never heard of it. I don’t really care.’ ”

Question: “If you weren’t an actress, what would you have been?

Answer: “I think just a teacher or a perpetually-in-class student. I love school, I’m like Hermione Granger in life … I think a lot of time people in theater — ’cause it’s a hard business — if there’s anything else you feel like you could be equally happy doing, a lot of the time they’re like: ‘I’m gonna do that! Because maybe I can have, like, work stability and generally not being so out in the public eye.’ For me I just know that this is the only thing that’s gonna make me as happy as possible, but otherwise, yeah, I think I would have, like, eight degrees for colleges. [Laughs].”

Question: “What’s your favorite memory from your production?”

Answer: “You know, it’s hard to just pick one … I think that first preview was pretty incredible, because we really didn’t know what people would think of the show. Obviously, we all thought it was great and we loved it, but you never know until you have an audience how other people receive it, and a lot of times you can get so close to it as a production you’re like: ‘This is great!’ and the audience is like, ‘What’s happening? This is not clear,’ and you’re like: ‘Oh, I really understand it,’ but it’s not clear to your audience yet. And that’s a big reason why you have out-of-town tryouts, why you have previews, all these things. You need the audience to understand how it’s really reading. So we were like: ‘We think this is good, but who knows?’ and the response to it was so insane, and so supportive … I think that was a particularly great memory, to remember how that felt.”

Splash photo Courtesy Evgenia Eliseeva/A.R.T.
From left, Logan Hart (Andrew), Derek Klena (Nick Healy), Celia Gooding (Frankie Healy), and Lauren Patten (Jo) in “Jagged Little Pill” at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in spring 2018.

Question: “So are you saying that you have to hide your true self while you’re acting or just being around other actors?”

Answer: “Mm-mm. No, I think a lot of acting actually is getting too down to a real true self so that you can show it on stage. It’s not necessarily your, personal, how I as Lauren would react to a lot of things, but it’s a lot of, like, I think that’s a common thought about acting, is like: ‘Oh my God, you guys must be really good liars,’ you know? And it’s actually like, you have to get really in touch with ‘What’s the truth of human emotion? What’s the truth of human experience?’

“I find also as an actor you have to have a lot of empathy, and that’s something that ‘Jagged Little Pill’ talks about a lot, is empathy for yourself and others. And so when you’re looking at a character, for instance if you’re playing, like, the villain of a show … you have to be able to look at that person and be like: ‘How do I see how they feel? This person probably doesn’t think of themselves as a bad person.’ So you have to approach with a lot of empathy, in that way, and that’s a lot of just finding the truth in it, actually, rather than feeling put-on.”

–June 17, 2019–