Musical theater fans rejoiced on Dec. 13 as news broke that Jake Gyllenhaal would star in a revival of Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway. Gyllenhaal will be reprising the role of Georges Seurat, the brooding painter, who had a troubled relationship with his lover and muse, Dot. He will reunite with his co-star from the three-night concert production in October, Annaleigh Ashford.
Meet Annaleigh Ashford
This will be Gyllenhaal's first Broadway musical, but Ashford is no stranger to The Great White Way. She made her debut in Wicked as Glinda before playing ditzy sorority girl Margot in Legally Blonde. She received her first Tony nomination for her role as Lauren Tapper in Kinky Boots, then won the award one year later for her performance as determined aspiring dancer Essie Carmichael in You Can't Take It With You.
As naturally befits a Tony winner, in Ashford's next role, she played a dog — a hilarious talking dog, that is — in Sylvia, alongside Matthew Broderick.
Sexy TV spots
Following bit parts in Rachel Getting Married and the Sex and the City movie, Ashford guest-starred on The Big C and Law & Order, as well as the short-lived, Broadway-inspired TV show Smash. But she really made a mark on the Showtime series Masters of Sex as Betty Dimello, a prostitute who helps the show's title character in his research (including a study on how women fake orgasms).
More recently, she was a bright spot in the FOX remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing Columbia, the ditzy, tap-dancing and tutu-wearing resident of the castle.
More than a dumb blonde
In Sunday in the Park with George, Ashford will get to show the audience a new side. Up until now, she's been cast as wacky, funny women (and animals). But in Sunday, one of Sondheim's most complex and difficult musicals, she will play George's neglected lover, who is forced to chose between two drastically different futures, deciding between what she needs and what she wants. In the second act, she plays the elderly Marie. This musical offers Ashford the opportunity to dive into something truly dramatic. She not only gets to fall in love with Jake Gyllenhaal every night, she gets to duet with him on "Move On," one of the most heartbreaking songs in musical theater.