Bravo to this actress recreating Broadway musical numbers by herself in quarantine
Mary Neely took on everything from the Schuyler sisters in Hamilton to Danny and Sandy in Grease.
So you can't go see your favorite Broadway shows, but that doesn't mean you can't still experience them!
Since late March, Los Angeles-based actress Mary Neely (whose credits include the upcoming Valley Girl musical remake) has been posting homemade videos of herself playing every role in performances from famous Broadway musicals. "Since I'm single in the quarantine I've decided to reenact moments from my favorite musicals so it feels like I'm in love," Neely captioned the first video she dropped on Twitter, a performance of "A Heart Full of Love" from Les Misérables in which she plays both Marius and Cosette.
Since then, Neely has shared 14 other videos of her lip-synching and acting out each role in songs from everything from Danny and Sandy in Grease to all three of the Schulyer sisters — and Alexander himself — in Hamilton. Most of the roles are parts Neely, a self-identified theater kid, has been in rehearsal for her entire life. "I used to listen to these songs literally every day when I was growing up and I always used to imagine myself playing all the roles when I was younger," she tells EW.
What began as just putting on a wig in the evening for something to look forward to during the early days of quarantine, soon become something much greater. "The purpose of me listening to musicals when I was a kid was that it was such an escape from things in my life that were really difficult at the time," says Neely. "So it's kind of like revisiting that idea now because obviously we want escapism and to just forget about this reality." After initially making the videos of her one-woman Broadway shows just to send to her parents — and thereby delivering what they describe as "the best way to start the day" — Neely was inundated with comments from friends, writers, directors, and requests for which song she would perform next.
Luckily, Neely was armed with multiple wigs from Halloween costumes gone by, two closets brimming with thrift-store finds ("It's a bit of an issue"), perfectionist-level editing skills, and a creative mindset when it came to creating camera stands, since she lives alone — one time, she taped the camera to a bannister railing — and was able to get to work answering the requests for more content. Only taking a break to celebrate her birthday and enjoy some quality time with her new cat, Neely has produced numbers from Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening, and West Side Story.
Each video takes her nearly an entire day to complete when initial choreographing and editing are factored in, but her hard work has all paid off as she has been noticed by Broadway stars and television producers alike. "It's insane," she says. "If you had told me this when I was 15 years old, I would've lost my s---! I'm so grateful; it's just so surreal."
On Monday morning, Neely woke up to a tweet from Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda and immediately called her mom to tell her. "She started crying," says Neely. "I was praying that he would see it just because I love him so much and I worked so hard on the Hamilton one." Miranda's not the only one taking notice. On Monday night, Neely will go live with Grey's Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff on her Instagram to discuss her quarantine creations.
Still, Neely is aware of ending her string of successful videos while they're still in-demand and, not wanting to overdo it, promises the next three-part installment will be the last. "I'm at this point where I've basically done all of the ones that mean a lot to me," she says. "I don't really want to keep exhausting my resources or repeating the same joke over and over again. I really want to end on a high note."
Keep your eyes on her Twitter account to see which high note she recreates for her finale.