Broadway actress from Park City appears in skit with Lin-Manuel Miranda on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’
Susie Carroll keeps dream afloat during the pandemic
Viewers of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on June 8 were able to spot Susie Carroll, a Broadway actress from Park City, performing in an opening number with Lin-Manuel Miranda and other recognizable stars.
The group, which also included Olga Merediz, Phylicia Rashad, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Jackson, Laura Benanti and Jimmy Smits, performed “Broadway’s Back,” a parody of the number “You’ll Be Back,” from Miranda’s award-winning musical “Hamilton,” to celebrate Broadway’s announcement that the Great White Way will reopen for performances in September.
Carroll, who made her Broadway debut in 2019 in Casey Nicholow’s musical “The Prom,” was honored to be included in the Fallon skit.
“It was his first time Jimmy was back with a 100% capacity audience, and there is nothing like the magic of putting on a show and feeling that energy of a space full of a live audience who is happy to be there,” Carroll said during a phone call from New York City. “We were feeding off them, and they’re feeding off us. It was pure magic, and the magic was real.”
Carroll’s involvement with the piece started with a phone call from her friend, choreographer Sarah O’Gleby, whom she met while majoring in theater and commercial band at Pace University.
“She does a lot of choreography for Jimmy, and she contacted me to ask if I was interested in doing a little skit dancing with Lin-Manuel,” Carroll said. “The answer, of course, was a 300% yes.”
A whirlwind followed from the time Carroll hung up until she was on the “Tonight Show” stage.
“Sarah asked me to join the project on a Thursday, and I got a COVID test on Saturday,” Carroll said. “We were in rehearsal on Monday, and we filmed the thing on Tuesday. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”
The thrill of participating wasn’t just because Carroll was performing with her peers and heroes.
“It was special, because we all knew we were going back to performing soon,” she said. “I think collectively everyone — from the director to the lighting designer — who was involved with the project felt something.”
At one point, Fallon got emotional backstage while talking with the cast, Carroll said.
“He wears his mask everywhere and he puts his mask in a little paper bag backstage before he walks on stage,” Carroll said.
Because of COVID Fallon was used to only seeing his bag backstage, but this time there were bags for Lin-Manuel and 17 dancers.
“We were all talking and Jimmy got emotional and said, ‘Oh, my God. Look at all the paper bags,’” Carroll said. “It was a little thing, but it was exciting, because we were all safely together creating art again.”
Creating art has been a goal for Carroll since she was 3.
“I had a one-track mind to come to New York and do this,” she said.
Carroll, who graduated from Park City High School in 2015, cut her teeth in the Egyptian Theatre’s YouTheatre program, voice lessons at the Utah Conservatory and dance lessons at Park City Dance and Dance Tech Studios.
That early training led to performances with the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, which paved the way to the Big Apple.
Carroll made her Broadway debut in “The Prom” as a swing girl.
“Being a swing girl means I covered seven female roles in the production,” she said. “So if anyone got sick, injured or went on vacation, I would have to know the role and step into it at the drop of a hat.”
While Carroll was busy in “The Prom,” she was asked to take the swing girl role for “Mean Girls,” which was also directed by Nicholow.
“I went from one show to another, which was quite a crazy time, because I was in my senior year in college performing ‘The Prom’ at night and rehearsing for ‘Mean Girls’ during the day,” Carroll said. “I did my final performance of ‘The Prom’ on a Friday and I was performing in ‘Mean Girls’ the following Tuesday at the end of July 2019. I look back on that now, and wonder how I did that.”
Carroll was performing in “Mean Girls” and had signed on to perform in “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Kennedy Center when the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States.
“It was such a great time, because I felt the gates were open after I got out of college,” she said. “I was ready to dive head first into this New York City career, and then things started to shut down (due to the pandemic).”
The shutdown hit anyone involved in the performing arts — actors, musicians, publicists, technical crews, theater managers, theater owners and food vendors, to name a few.
“We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in this unprecedented time,” Carroll said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen to the industry that I adore so much, and when January hit, I was asking myself, ‘Do I still do this?’”
Carroll decided to stick it out, and landed some small gigs to keep her busy and build her resume. And then she was called for the Jimmy Fallon bit.
The next step is auditioning.
“I’m open to anything — commercials, theater, so I’ve been making audition tapes, because I have a wonderful agency that has been sending me things,” Carroll said. “I live on the eighth floor, and am constantly saying how thankful I am for my neighbors who put up with the performances I do for the tapes every day.”
Carroll is happy she decided to persevere with acting, because there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m excited to be a part of this history of seeing Broadway come back,” she said. “Even now, seeing the city unfold is so special and exciting. The city is thriving, let me tell you, and you never know what will come your way.”
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