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Hamden’s Linedy Genao breaks new ground in Broadway’s ‘Bad Cinderella’

 Bad Cinderella
Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman
/
Provided photo
Linedy Genao, center, performing in "Bad Cinderella".

When “Bad Cinderella” closes on Broadway this Sunday, it marks the end of a 43-year Broadway run for composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The show opened in April to someharsh reviews from the critics, who mostly found problems with the story and the dialogue. After being snubbed by the Tonys (the musical failed to garner a single nomination) and recent poor attendance, the producers pulled the plug on Lloyd Webber’s updated Cinderella story.

The news wasn’t nearly as dire for the actress playing the title role in “Bad Cinderella.” Hamden’s own Linedy Genao received mostly good reviews, and earned the distinction of being the first Latina actress to originate a leading role in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Genao’s path to Broadway was a circuitous one. Born in Brooklyn, the Dominican-American moved to Hamden with her family when she was 10 years old. Genao said she started doing theater in middle school. By high school, she was starring in local productions, and dreaming of a life on Broadway.

“It was time for college auditions, and everyone was applying,” Genao said. “So I thought ‘let me try. If it’s meant to be, I’ll do it. If not, that’s ok’. I didn’t get into the [musical theater] schools, but I got into the business schools, so I went to UConn and got a degree in Business administration.”

Genao took a job at a private bank in New York City, all the while still performing in shows with Hamden’s Whitney Players. Then, in 2015, she heard about an open audition for the new Gloria Estefan musical “On Your Feet.”

“I didn’t have a professional headshot, I took a selfie on my iPhone 4, and printed it at Walgreens. I went to the open call with just the theater experience from high school and my hometown. And I got the job.”

Next for Genao came a stint in the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen,” but the pandemic hit, shutting down Broadway, and performing arts venues everywhere. Unsure of when, or even if Broadway was coming back, she worked remotely from Hamden at her old banking job. Then she got the call to audition for a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Over the next months, she was called back again and again.

“It was the most intense audition process I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Genao said. “And in my last audition, Andrew Lloyd Weber himself asked me to be his Cinderella. Yeah, I’ll never forget that day.”

Genao said she brings a lot of her own personality to the role of Cinderella.

“I bring sass. My Brooklyn accent slips out a lot,” Genao said. “I bring my culture, I bring my whole self unapologetically, and finally feel like I can be myself in a role.”

With “Bad Cinderella” closing in a few days, it’s unclear what’s next for Linedy Genao. Originating a role in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is certainly an enviable item to put on your resume, putting her in the same company of such Broadway greats as Patti Lupone (“Evita”), Betty Buckley (“Cats”) and Sarah Brightman (“Phantom of the Opera”). Perhaps being hand picked for a role by Lloyd Webber himself will be enough for Broadway producers looking for their next star.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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