In 1994, 22-year-old actress Jodie Langel was a wannabe Broadway star, receiving positive reviews for her performances on The Great White Way in a stellar production of “Les Miserables,” followed by national Broadway in America touring productions of “Cats” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” among other musicals.
Fast forward 15 years later, Langel moves from New York City to Palm Beach Gardens in 2009, realizing that her dreams of becoming the next big Broadway star had lots of barriers and setbacks that taught her that the path to stardom is not all about fame, glamor and money.
Actress Jodie Langel directs “13 The Musical” from June 23-24 at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton (Photo Credits: Jodie Langel)
“The common denominator for all actors is that there are many highs and lows being an actor on Broadway. You win the Tony Award for best musical and then you are playing a cartoon character at a bar mitzvah three weeks later,” said Langel. “There are a lot of gaps between jobs and most actors have to struggle, even after starring in a Broadway show.”
While Langel never won a Tony Award, her trade of a life on touring Broadway shows for a life in South Florida musical theater has paid off in dividends in both her professional and personal life. Langel has starred in numerous South Florida musicals, starting with “Evita” in 2009 at the Maltz Jupiter Theater and worked consistently for the next 14 years, having recently starred with Jodi Benson in “Gypsy” in Ft. Myers.
Langel’s strong vocal range, dramatic acting and stunning glamor girl looks has earned her plum roles starring in regional Florida productions of “Mamma Mia” at both Actor Playhouse in Miami and at Wick Theater in Boca Raton, among numerous musical productions, including “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “To Life”. She earned Florida awards for her acting and singing playing a mentally challenged mother in the musical “Next To Normal” at Actors Playhouse.
As a singer, Langel starred in the one woman show “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber” at the now defunct Plaza Theater in Manalapan, toured with many Florida based orchestras and starred in many private condominium shows in South Florida.
Off the stage, Langel earns plenty of applause from her students (and their parents) as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students for the past 11 years. Langel began teaching acting and vocalizing classes to her students beginning in 2012 with Interact in Palm Beach Gardens and later opened up her own vocal studio in Boca Raton.
As a teacher and mentor, Langel wanted to offer her students more than a taste for the joys and glitter of Broadway. She wrote the 2007 book “Making It On Broadway” featuring stories of famed actors such as Jason Alexander and Brooke Shields and the perils of a career on stage. “I want to offer my students hope, lots of hope, but also an awareness of what life on Broadway is and may not be.”
Along with her professional life, Langel feels blessed to have raised her 13 year old daughter Leah as a single mother. “I have a great life and have no regrets. I have a great career, teaching acting and a wonderful daughter and I would not trade that for Broadway fame. I feel fortunate to continue acting, and seeing my daughter every day.”
Earlier this month, Langel added an additional role to her resume, becoming Executive Director of Off Glades Theater in Boca Raton. Langel founded the theater with the mission of being a not-for-profit company to produce musical theater in South Florida for the cultural development of young people in the performing arts.The company’s first production company will be the musical “13: The Musical,” about the growing pains and cultural adjustments of Evan, a Jewish teen from New York who was forced to move with his mother to the Midwest when his parents divorced while preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.
From left to right: Teen actors Jonathan Jacknow, Leah Steiner and Kane Quiles perform in “13 The Musical” from June 23-24 at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton (Photo Credit: Jodie Langel)
There are parallels between Langel and her daughter Leah, who are both Jewish, with Evan, who experienced bullying with his new high school peers in the musical.
“The musical resonates with me so much because my daughter has been dealing with so many issues that this musical touches on. My daughter has been through many of the issues that Evan has experienced. Unfortunately, the issues of bullying and ‘mean kids’ are not foreign to her. Leah and I felt so strongly about this musical that I knew that this had to be the first production of the company and that I had to direct it.”
“I’ve been bullied my whole life. I can relate to everything my character is going through about being a nerd and stabbed in the back. Thirteen (The Musical) is such a fun show to be in,” said Leah Steiner. (Langel’s daughter)
From left to right: Teen actors Tommy Cook, Eddie Albeio, Sebastian Baroulette and Anthony Cirisano perform in “13 The Musical” from June 23-24 at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton (Photo Credit: Jodie Langel)