Take your daughter to work, Broadway edition: 'Hadestown' welcomes Jon Jon Briones and his daughter

NEW YORK — Jon Jon Briones had the best vantage point to watch his daughter, Isa, make her Broadway debut. He wasn’t sitting in the front row or hovering backstage. He was beside her.

Father and daughter stepped into the musical “Hadestown” last month, he playing Hermes and she Eurydice. It was the first time they’ve shared a stage, and the tears came easily at curtain call.

“There’s just this pinch-me moment. I can’t believe I get to do this with a musical theater legend but also that legend is my father and also telling a beautiful, beautiful story,” says Isa Briones.

Her dad, as expected, has also found it emotional.

“When we were rehearsing, I was crying watching Isa, and I would miss my cues because I was watching her,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve also learned to look relaxed for the cast because if one of their leads is nervous, that’s not good. But I lost it at curtain call. I lost it.”

The elder Briones made his own Broadway debut as the Engineer in the 2017 revival of “Miss Saigon,” a role he played in a 2014 West End production, earning an Olivier Award nomination. He was in the ensemble of the original 1989 London production.

Isa Briones, whose TV credits include “Star Trek: Picard” and “Goosebumps,” appeared in the dual stage roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in the musical “Hamilton” on tour.

“In the last few days, especially right before we went on, I took a step back and I was like, ‘Oh, right, it’s your Broadway debut. This is the thing you’ve dreamed about since you were a kid,’” Isa says. “The thing that I grew up watching my dad do, now I get to do it with him and that’s really special.”

The pair were tantalizingly close to working together when Jon Jon appeared in “Star Trek: Picard,” but his daughter wasn’t in that episode. They finally did it when dad had a recurring role in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” and Isa played his daughter for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

Now they’re front and center in hell together in “Hadestown,” the 2019 Tony Award-winning musical about the underworld, which intertwines the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone. Hermes serves as the narrator.

“I’m just so happy to be doing theater again,” says Isa, 25. “I think we’ve both been away from theater for a good amount of time, and it’s been great doing other things — doing TV and and film — but we’ve both talked about how theater is really the thing that replenishes our soul.”

Their father-daughter bond has only deepened their connection to the “Hadestown” musical, in which Hermes tells the doomed love story of Eurydice. “It actually has raised the stakes for me,” says Jon Jon. “The person that I love is involved in this.”

All of the Briones family are actors, including mom, Megan Johnson Briones, and younger brother, Teo. Megan and Jon Jon actually met while performing in “Miss Saigon.”

Jon Jon warned his wife to bring plenty of tissues when she came to see he and Isa make their Broadway bows. That turned out to be a good call.

“She was sobbing. Like convulsive sobbing,” says Isa. ”The show just leaves you in shambles already. But then you have your husband and your daughter, and that’s just cruel.”

Teo Briones was also proud. “He saw me from across the street and ran up to me and tackled me with a hug and was crying into my shoulder. You don’t always get that from your 19-year-old brother,” Isa says.

The life of a young actor can be hard, but both Isa and Teo have chosen the path of their parents.

“I think my wife and I are relying on the way we raised them,” says Jon Jon. “We guided them. We showed them what we do and how to handle ourselves in front of people with grace and humility and gratitude. They’ve seen how to value the work. Not the glamor of it all, but the work itself.”

The Briones aren’t the first parent-child pairing who have appeared in the same Broadway show together. Laurie Metcalf co-starred with her daughter Zoe Perry in “The Other Place” in 2013, and Debbie Reynolds starred in the 1973 revival of “Irene” with her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

Both Isa and Jon Jon dedicated their Broadway milestone to Megan, who has made a lot of sacrifices to her own career. “She keeps our family going,” says Isa. Adds dad: “We owe her.”

In one way, Isa says she’s made her Broadway debut with her mother.

“I feel very lucky that multiple people have come up to me and said, ‘You have your mom’s voice’ and ‘I think you sound exactly like your mom,’ and I’m very grateful for that because she has a beautiful voice,” Isa says. “To know that I have both of them in me is really, really affecting.”


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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