Reneé Rapp’s first New York stop on the Snow Hard Feelings tour — a sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Monday night — was only a few blocks away from Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre, home of Wicked, but the singer brought the musical to her fans. On the eve of Halloween, the singer welcomed Lizzy McAlpine to the stage for an epic duet as Glinda and Elphaba on “For Good.”
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Before officially launching her pop career with the release of her debut album Snow Angel earlier this year, Rapp had cut her teeth on Broadway as Regina George in the musical adaptation of Mean Girls. She was in the role for less than a year, joining for a limited run in June 2019 before being added to the main cast in September 2019 until the play shut down due to Covid-19 in March 2020.
From the beginning, her involvement in the world of theater was a stepping stone to her future plans. “I told them, ‘I will only take this job if you promise to help me in my music career one day,'” Rapp told Rolling Stone ahead of her album release, referring to early conversations shared with producers Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels. “‘I want to be a pop star. I do not want to do this forever.'”
McAlpine had theatre dreams of her own, too. Growing up in Philadelphia, not too far from New York, the singer and songwriter came to love musicals through her grandmother, who would often bring her to the city to see Broadway shows like Beauty and the Beast. “All of the theater kids in my high school were also writing music, and they would perform at coffee shops around town, but I never really did that,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year.
After the sudden breakthrough of her single “Ceilings,” largely boosted by TikTok, where she’d often previewed music with simple, stripped-back performances, McAlpine had to quickly adjust to performing for growing audiences of real people. “I get overstimulated easily and am so sensitive to everything in the world,” she explained. “Giving myself to an entire room of people is very draining to me. It’s tough to find a balance but I’m working on that. It gets better with every tour, I think.”
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