Meet Amy Jo Phillips in Ain't Misbehavin'

Posted by: Pia Haas on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, I was bi-racial before it was popular.

I attended the high school of Music & Art.  Though I auditioned as a pianist for both M & A and The High School for Performing Arts and chose M & A so that I could become a vocal major. I first started doing theatre at Ithaca College, specifically with Kuumba Repertory Theatre, where I performed as well as served as Musical Director for 3 years. 

My mentor was my late acting teacher Robert Elston. I first studied with him at HB studios (during summer breaks from college) and continued with him when he opened his own studio/theatre (American Renaissance Theatre). 

Aside from making my Broadway debut in Hal Prince's Show Boat, one of my fondest memories was the process of being cast as Bloody Mary in national tour of South Pacific (starring Robert Goulet) at the age of 27. I vividly remember not going to the Equity principal auditions because they were looking for someone between the ages 35-50. I finally went to an open understudy call for the role of Liat, thinking I might be able to understudy both Liat (not knowing she was a dancer) and Bloody Mary. I was requested to sing “Bali H'ai” by the casting director (Stuart Howard) and then asked where I had been and what made me finally come in. My response was "Little Shop of Horrors" (I was a vacation swing for the off-Broadway show at the time) and that I thought I could be an understudy. Stuart said that they already had a Bloody Mary understudy, but they were still looking for their Bloody Mary. I was given a callback to sing/read for the producers and director (the late Ron Fields). After singing and reading for the powers that be, I was asked how old I thought Bloody Mary was. All I can say, is that God gave me my answer, 32 with an explanation as to why. It must have been good enough, because by the time I got home from the callback, there was a message on my answering machine telling me that I had the job!

I saw the original Ain’t Misbehavin’ on Broadway while I was still in school. I fell in love with it and saw that there was a place for me in theatre (specifically Armelia McQueen), if nothing else, I could do this show.  I’ve done the show with several companies. The last full production was in 2003 at Papermill Playhouse in NJ.

I did South Pacific here at WBT in 1997 as Bloody Mary. The staff is wonderful, they do wonderful productions, and it is close to home (NYC). 

Favorite shows? Ain't Misbehavin’, South Pacific, Little Shop Of Horrors, and new favorite, In The Heights. I have been blessed to do a lot of my dream roles, but one that I haven't done yet is Serena in Porgy & Bess.

When not on stage, I love going to see friends perform, theatre, cabaret etc... just being supportive. I love film, and currently taxes (I also do tax preparation/consulting) I listen to R&B, Jazz, Gospel, and theatre music… like many, I'm a Hamilton junkie!




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