Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Las Cruces actress Taylor Rey to make Off-Broadway musical debut

LAS CRUCES – Have you ever wondered what happens after Cinderella finds her prince or Little Red Riding Hood stops the Big Bad Wolf?

Las Cruces-born actress and former Miss New Mexico Taylor Rey will be exploring these questions next month in her Off-Broadway debut along with the company of “After Happily Ever After.”

The new comedic musical was written by Roger Griffin with Stephen Weiner as composer and Susan Dilallo as lyricist.

The project will be Rey’s first professional musical where she performs a main role — or several, in this case. She explained that the show will feature six actors portraying 47 roles. Rey is cast as Red Riding Hood, one of Cinderella’s step-sisters, an old mama frog and the wife of one of the Three Little Pigs.

“It’s really fun. I get to do a lot of different voices, a lot of accents and really cool costume changes, I’m sure,” Rey said.

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Exploring what comes after a fairytale ending is not especially new — for example, Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 “Into the Woods.” But Rey explained that the new production involves many different fairytale characters and new storylines. Rather than children’s theater — as fairytales are often wont to be — she said this production is a high energy, goofy comedy.

Because this is the show’s premiere, she added that there is much more opportunity for the cast to provide creative input than there would be in a revival of a show. She and the other actors will play a large part in the characters’ development. Rehearsals officially began April 11.

Taylor Rey (third from the left), who grew up in Las Cruces, pictured with her fellow

The show will open May 5 and run through May 22 at New York City’s The Players Theater — an Off-Broadway playhouse which generally means it seats between 99 and 499 people.

While this will be Rey’s Off-Broadway debut, she does have experience performing on a Broadway stage. In 2016, Rey was one of about 12 people who sang backup to Broadway icon Kristin Chenowith during her limited-run show “Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to Broadway” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

“Kristin Chenoweth is my idol. She’s been my inspiration for my career since I was 5 years old,” Rey said. “I thought she was so funny and I love her voice. And she actually went to my university, Oklahoma City University, which is part of the reason why I wanted to go to that school.”

Rey graduated from OCU in 2017 with a degree in music theater. Prior to this, she attended Las Cruces High. In her hometown, Rey performed in high school and community theater productions. She also danced at Michele’s Dance Academy, beginning at 3 years old, where she performed in their annual production of “The Nutcracker” through high school.

Following her college graduation, Rey returned to New Mexico and competed in the Miss New Mexico pageant. She was crowned Miss New Mexico in 2017 and went on to be one of the final 15 contestants in the 2018 Miss America Pageant.

Miss New Mexico 2017 Taylor Rey shows the crowd her shoe during a parade on the Atlantic City, NJ, Boardwalk Saturday, Sept 9, 2017. Rey was one of the top 15 finalists in the Miss America contest, held Sunday, Sept 10, 2017

She moved to New York in 2019 to participate in a creative fellowship with Ars Nova. Once COVID-19 hit the country, she returned to Las Cruces where she stayed for a little over a year. Now she is back in The Big Apple and continuing to pursue her dreams of performing.

“For me, being successful is just that I am performing and I’m being paid to perform and able to sustain myself creatively. So, I would love to be on Broadway, but I feel just as creatively fulfilled doing Off-Broadway and just being able to be part of the production,” she said. “But yeah, I would love to be on Broadway. It’s definitely my dream and if somebody offered me a Broadway role, I would take it immediately.”

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Rey said taking a role in a professional production of “Little Shop of Horrors” would be the cherry on top of her dreams as it is her favorite show. It was also the first musical she performed in when she was 15 at the Rio Grande Theatre.

She said the creative community in New York is similar to Las Cruces and opportunities in her hometown prepared her for performing in America’s theater capital.

For now, she continues to prepare for her many roles in “After Happily Ever After” as well as serving as house manager for another Off-Broadway theater, teaching elementary school theater at after-school programs, teaching children’s yoga and running an Etsy shop .

“I keep auditioning. Every morning when I wake up I look at all of the audition listings and I submit,” she said.

Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.

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