Leah Hofmann fell in love with musicals while growing up in St. Louis. Now, she’s back in her hometown appearing in the musical “Something Rotten!” at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.
“This is my first time coming back to the Fox since I moved to New York. After college, I toured with the Rockettes and was there. I toured with ‘Young Frankenstein’ in 2010-2011, but I joined it after they played the Fox,” Hofmann said during a phone interview from Boston, where the first national tour kicked off Jan. 17.
She also has fond memories of performing “The Nutcracker” there as a teenager. But this time, she will actually get to sign one of the legendary walls backstage, where every cast’s signatures are enshrined with show artwork. Hofmann is a Renaissance girl and sings and dances as part of the ensemble.
The Fox will be the third stop in a tour scheduled through July 30, but will likely be extended. The show opens Tuesday, Feb. 7, and will continue through Sunday, Feb. 19.
“We are so fortunate to have this theater in St. Louis, and we’re excited to bring the show there,” she said.
The show is about brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom who are playwrights in Renaissance rock star William Shakespeare’s shadow. In 1595, when a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theater involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical.
“They seek to top him,” she said.
“The show’s a love letter to theater. I guarantee a lot of laughs. People who know shows will love it. Most of the show is a spoof of musical theater. It’s just funny. It’s inventive and creative. If you like ‘Spamalot,’ ‘The Book of Mormon,’ and ‘The Producers,’ you’ll have fun,” she said.
The original musical comedy opened on Broadway in April 2015, was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, and closed Jan. 1, 2017.
A cast replacement during its Broadway run, Hofmann is happy to continue on the tour. “It’s a fun ensemble to be a part of. It’s joyful,” she said.
“We have three of the Broadway principals on the tour. They had to include the tall girl to sweeten the deal,” she said, laughing.
The three reprising their roles include Muny fan favorite Rob McClure as Nick Bottom; Adam Pascal, who originated the role of Roger in “Rent,” as Shakespeare; and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom.
“I can’t think of a better cast for this tour. Rob McClure is fantastic; he’s so delightful. It’s a role of a lifetime,” she said.
The show’s a love letter to theater. I guarantee a lot of laughs. People who know shows will love it. Most of the show is a spoof of musical theater. It’s just funny. It’s inventive and creative. If you like ‘Spamalot,’ ‘The Book of Mormon,’ and ‘The Producers,’ you’ll have fun.
Leah Hofmann on “Something Rotten!” at The Fox
McClure, Tony-nominated for “Chaplin,” was in leading and supporting roles in “Shrek,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Addams Family,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “Into the Woods” and “The Beauty and the Beast” at The Muny from 2013 through 2015.
“And Adam Pascal and Josh Grisetti bring a lot to the table. They’re great. Adam’s voice makes you melt,” she said. Besides starring in “Rent” on stage and screen, Pascal is also known for leading roles in “Aida” and “Memphis.”
Directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon,” “Aladdin”), the music and lyrics are by brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick. Wayne Kirkpatrick is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, for Song of the Year “Change the World” in 1997. Karey Kirkpatrick is a screenwriter (“Over the Hedge,” “Chicken Run,” “Charlotte’s Web”). The book is by Karey Kirkpatrick and author John O’Farrell.
Hofmann graduated from Lafayette High School and majored in physical therapy at University of Missouri-Columbia. But her lifelong love affair with theater propelled her to a stage career. Her first Broadway show was “War Horse” at the Lincoln Center in 2011.
“It changed my life,” she said.
The theater bug took hold after she played the Wicked Witch of the West in a school production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“I liked it,” she said.
Participating in school and community theater shows then became a big part of her life, as a performer and choreographer.
“I took dance classes. I was in a lot of community theater, shows with Spotlight Productions and Bravo Theatre Group,” she said. “I like creating a show, having a sense of worth, collaborating with the cast, making it something really special, and knowing you have created something bigger than yourself. I really like being enthralled with a show.”
She appeared at The Muny for several summers. “The Muny is quite well known in New York. I have so many friends I’ve made through it,” she said.
A trip home is eagerly awaited. “I’ve been getting lots of text messages” from friends and family coming to see the show, she said.
During the show’s run, she plans to return to her alma mater, and talk to some classes there. Definite stops include City Museum and Magic House with the kids who are along on tour with their parents. Hofmann had an exhibit at the Magic House before.
Her other talents include Etch-a-Sketch artwork.
Her father has worked at Anheuser-Busch for 30 years, so they might squeeze in a trip there, too. “I’ve told the cast about the brewery tour,” she said.
Hofmann is signed with the show through 2018. “I love touring. We’ll see what happens after that,” she said.