Meet Barrett Doss, who stars as Rita in the hit Broadway musical ‘Groundhog Day’
Barrett Doss shines as no-nonsense stuck-in-Punxsutawney Channel 5 associate TV producer (and also Phil Connors’ foil) in Groundhog Day. Based on the original movie of the same name, Groundhog Day is directed by Matthew Warchus, with whip-smart music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a book by Danny Rubin.
What do you love about Groundhog Day?
Barrett Doss: We get to tell a story about how this man, Phil Connors, learns to really appreciate life. Our show takes the audience on an unexpected journey and manages to surprise so many people. The feedback we get most is that when people leave the theater they will have laughed really hard. But they have also cried and been really touched.
Our show is so much about the community of Punxsutawney. And of course it’s about Phil Connors and his transformation from a self-centered guy to a giving, supportive, loving person. He learns that from the people around him. I’ve noticed that Groundhog Day is about looking outward in order to look inward. When you learn something new about others that will allow you to learn something new about yourself.
Did you always love musical theater?
Barrett Doss: Growing in Minnesota, my dream was always to be in a Broadway show. I was a huge fan of musical theater. When I was a kid in a choir, I sang a lot. So I got involved in acting through musical theater. My constant soundtrack was always musical theater. It taught me so much about musicality but also acting. People like Audra McDonald, Sherie Rene Scott and Kristin Chenoweth are wonderful voice actors. You can hear their acting choices through their vocal performance. That is something that I absorbed when I was young.
Rita in Groundhog Day is so wonderful and nuanced. What qualities do you like about her?
Barrett Doss: She is funny. In a lot of ways, she is no-nonsense, but she absolutely enjoys life and the process of living. With all of the ups and the downs, she’s a very self-aware person. She can look outside herself and what she thinks that her life is supposed to be. She is willing to explore internally and externally. Over the course of the show, she learns more about herself. But she starts off at a very self-aware spot. which is so wonderful for a female character in a musical.
The story is told in such a unique way.
Barrett Doss: One of the clever things about our show is that the audience gets to take the same trip as Phil does. You start off only seeing his perspective. All the people in the town, Rita included, are restricted to how Phil sees them. The audience experiences what he does. And then as the show goes on, all of the characters open up and you get to see their inner workings. With Rita you get to experience her outside of what Phil sees. I love that she gets her own life.
What was one of the first Broadway shows that you saw, you ever saw?
Barrett Doss: I have the most vivid memory of the The Lion King. I was blown away by the spectacle of it. I remember sitting close to the aisle. When the puppets came down, I remember being totally startled when one of them passed over my shoulder. I think it was a giraffe. It scared me, but I remember being so thrilled and in awe.
What was one of the first times you were on stage?
Barrett Doss: I was in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, playing Lucy. I believe I was in the 7th grade. I really loved making people laugh, mostly because I like to laugh myself. When I heard people laugh, I thought, that’s where I want to be. This is the feeling I want to have all the time.