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From the bench to Broadway: Brooklyn-born Linedy Genao breaks ground in ‘Bad Cinderella’


Linedy Genao was about to leave the musical theater.

The power-voiced performer had achieved a remarkable rise from a serious banking career before the pandemic, cashing in on an open call for an original Broadway role in “On Your Feet!” and then landed a swing spot on a national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen.”

But when COVID struck and Broadway closed, Genao returned to a remote banking job. After spending 11 months as an independent contractor, her boss at Interaudi Bank was pressuring her to commit permanently.

“I was like, you know what? I’m married. Now I have a family. I think it’s time. genao she remembered thinking to herself. “I’ve always said, I’m going to ride this wave until I can’t anymore.”

Two days before the deadline she had set to make a final decision between the safety of the bench and her Broadway dreams, she got the call.

“Dear Evan Hansen” was reopening on Broadway. He had an offer to join.

He left the bench behind. “Dear Evan Hansen” returned in December 2021, as the theater hummed from its pandemic hiatus.

“Just when you think you have your life figured out, you don’t,” Genao, 31, told the Daily News. “And the universe sends you a big sign.”

Fifteen months later, Genao, of Long Beach, LI, is making another major move, starring at the Imperial Theater in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-awaited “Bad Cinderella,” a take on a classic character that casts her as an unabashed rebel.

Genao has been playing Bad Cinderella since trailers began a month ago; opening night falls on March 23. Genao, who is Dominican-American, is making history along the way.

She is the first Latina to play Cinderella on Broadway and the only Latina to have a leading role in a musical by Lloyd Webber, the powerful British composer behind “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor.” “. Dream coat.

Not bad for a Brooklyn-born kid who was late immersing himself in musical theater in high school and studied business administration at the University of Connecticut after facing rejection from top drama schools.

Its UConn regional campus offered no drama classes or opportunities, Genao said.

“I’m still processing every part of this experience every day,” he said. “Because if I sit down and take it all in at once, it’s very overwhelming.”

The daughter of an educator, Genao lived in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, until she moved to Hamden, Conn., north of New Haven, at around age 10.

When he tried out theater his sophomore year at Hamden High School, he was “raw” and “didn’t understand how to move onstage,” recalled Eric Nyquist, the school’s former drama teacher.

But his talent dazzled. And she gave everything she had.

“She had this really rare combination of being so genuine on stage and yet so fierce,” Nyquist said. “She just had such a powerful voice.”

Once, during an audition for a production of “Into the Woods,” he held a final note for what seemed like an eternity, Nyquist recalled. She then passed out on stage.

On another occasion, according to the teacher, Genao’s interpretation of “Nada” from “A Chorus Line” in a workshop caused a stunned silence, before asking if he had sung badly. An audience member declared that he was perfect, Nyquist said, and the class applauded.

Before her arrival on Broadway, her theater experience amounted to a handful of high school productions, two community theater shows, and scattered singing lessons, “just because I love to sing,” she said.

Tanairi Sade Vazquez, who acted with Genao in “On Your Feet!” and became close friends with him, he said that an aura of modesty emanates from Genao.

“We all knew that she was a star,” Vázquez said. “But I don’t think she believed it yet.”

Linedy Genao and Tanairi Sade Vazquez.

Vazquez said she encouraged her friend to stick with the theater during the COVID shutdown. Before the clock struck midnight in Genao’s dream, Broadway called again.

Then so did Lloyd Webber. Genao said that she has been allowed to “pinch” herself every day.

“She’s still not quite sure where she belongs where she is,” Nyquist said. “But she does.”

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