What to Know
- Wynn’s desire to appear in a movie musical became a reality when she secured the role as Young Tanya in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."
- The movie’s cast called several aspects of production “adult summer camp."
- Wynn appeared Thursday in New York City as part of Make Music New York, an annual festival that features free outdoor concerts.
After watching “Grease” growing up, actress Jessica Keenan Wynn aspired to sing alongside her friends in a movie musical. She’s starred in Broadway’s “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and was a voice actress in “The Girl on the Train” but until recently hadn’t achieved that goal.
Years after first considering the possibility, Wynn found herself studying actress Christine Baranski while preparing for a new role. She watched Baranski’s mannerisms and expressions in “The Birdcage” and the sitcom “Cybill.” She also re-watched “Mamma Mia” and noted the phrases Baranski’s character used but wanted to be sure not to over analyze the way she played Tanya.
Wynn’s desire to appear in a movie musical became a reality when she secured the role as Young Tanya in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which is scheduled to be released July 20. As the movie’s original stars worked with their younger counterparts, Wynn found herself next to Baranski often. She deemed her first movie musical experience “magical.”
“This is the dream,” Wynn told NBC. “The fact that I can check that off my bucket list--my first studio film is a movie musical. That’s my heart. That’s my soul. That’s how I started.”
Wynn, whose family’s acting legacy can be traced to her great-great-grandfather, enjoyed the down time that came with filming the movie that she rarely has preparing for shows. It enabled her to watch her colleagues, particularly Baranski, rehearse and film their scenes.
The movie’s cast called several aspects of production “adult summer camp,” Wynn said, because the group was together filming in an island in Croatia. Wynn joined Lily James, Alexa Davies, Meryl Streep and the rest of the cast to watch Cher perform and celebrated Julie Walters being honored as a dame.
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Still, she focused on portraying a younger version of Baranski’s character, which she said became easier after reviewing Young Tanya’s lines.
“When I allowed myself to breathe into Tanya a little is when I realized [my personality and hers] coincided beautifully,” Wynn said. “She’s fun, she’s witty [and] she wants everyone to have a good time. She’s a little boy crazy. She loves her sisters.”
Wynn appeared Thursday in New York City as part of Make Music New York, an annual festival that features free outdoor concerts across the five boroughs. Concerts and performances celebrate the start of the summer and are held in more than 80 cities across the country.
To promote the new movie, Wynn joined a pianist on the back of a white Ford F-150 parked in Times Square and watched as “Mamma Mia” fans received the opportunity to sing their favorite songs or contribute with custom movie kazoos. The truck was also scheduled to appear near the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the West Village.
Thursday marked the first time the program featured the Abba song book, said James Burke, executive director of Make Music New York.
Robert Poole, who said the movie helped him cope with depression after his grandmother passed away, wore a dark blue “Mamma Mia” hat as he sang “Mamma Mia.”
“I owe ‘Mamma Mia’ my life,” Poole said. “[Singing] was like me saying ‘thank you for the music.’”
Morgan Demartis ensured her lunch break coincided with the event’s start time after learning about it on Facebook.
“This morning my train was late and it was hot and then I knew I was coming to this,” Demartis said. “I said ‘let me play some ‘Mamma Mia’’ and it made my whole day better.”
Wynn anticipates the music in the new movie will receive comparable praise.
“One of the best things is Abba music transcends generations,” Wynn said. “There’s a reason why in 2018 we’re still loving and listening to their songs old and new.”