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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Jessica Vosk stops in Gainesville for cabaret-style shows

The broadway actress performed two shows at Phillips Center Thursday

When Jaqueline St. Pierre, a 21-year-old UF theater junior, came to UF she was set on studying business, despite her love of the arts. She figured she could work on the business side of the theater industry. 

But she soon changed her major to theater. 

This decision was inspired by Jessica Vosk, a Broadway actress known for her role as Elphaba in “Wicked,” who had worked as an investor on Wall Street for three years before becoming a Broadway actress. Her courage to pursue theater after working in business inspired St. Pierre to do the same.

“I knew that I wanted a career in life in the arts, but was incredibly terrified of what that meant financially and socially,” St. Pierre said. “I'm now a third-year theater major, and I love it. I really am inspired and connected to her story.”

Vosk came to the Phillips Center Thursday night to perform Broadway hits, medleys and songs from movies such as “The Wizard of Oz.” It was the ninth stop on her tour which runs from Jan. 25 to March 26. In addition to the performance on stage, she also walked around the audience and spoke to them about her life, making the experience even more interactive. 

Jason Li, a 21-year-old UF English and behavioral psychology senior, also saw Vosk perform. 

Despite not previously knowing of Vosk, he wanted to go because he had attended UF Performing Arts events since his freshman year. 

“Whatever expectations I had, she blew it out of the water,” Li said.

He was particularly impressed with Vosk’s stage presence and her use of audience participation. He was also surprised by her sense of humor. As she walked around the audience she captivated them with laughter and grace.

Her final song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” was accompanied by her explaining Judy Garland’s history. To Li, this made the song even more memorable.

“It was such an incredible thing to hear, how much she cares about this art form, how much she respects her predecessors, the people who paved the way for her and how she's carrying on that legacy,” he said.

As a jazz pianist, Li knows the importance of honoring who came before you. He and his jazz band regularly listen to the musicians who came before them and value their legacies. 

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“Everyone stands on the shoulders of giants,” he said. “We owe so much to the people who came before us, and she did it in such an incredible way.”

Even though Li has been going to UF Performing Arts performances for his whole time at the university, he believes this performance was unique due to her lively and effervescent personality.

For most performances, the focus is on the music. But the focus of this performance was on Vosk and her story, he said. 

Vosk’s music allowed her to tell that story and connect with the audience on the one thing they all have in common: being human. 

Contact Lauren at Follow her on Twitter @LaurenWhid.

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Lauren Whiddon

Lauren Whiddon is a UF journalism senior and the multimedia editor. When she's not writing she is updating her Letterboxd account or reading classic literature.

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