An Interview With Abby Rose Morris
New York City’s Abby Rose Morris
Is bringing her feminist cabaret
about fatphobia to the Fringe
Where are you from & where do you live at the moment?
I’m from a tiny town near Burlington, Vermont, about an hour south of the Canadian border. I currently live in New York.
Can you tell us a little about your art?
I’m an actor, singer, voiceover artist, and writer! I’m trained in musical theatre but also have a deep love for new plays, adaptations, and Shakespeare. I love absurdism and meta snark, and that really shows up in the things I’ve written. I’m very passionate about plus size representation in the arts and More Than Tracy Turnblad, my solo show at Fringe, revolves around that.
Where did you train?
I got my BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of the Arts in 2019, and have also trained at Circle in the Square Theatre School and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Can you tell us about More Than Tracy Turnblad the podcast?
The podcast version of More Than Tracy Turnblad came about in the pandemic when I was unable to perform the show! On the podcast, I interview other plus size creatives about how fatphobia has showed up in their careers, the fat characters that have impacted them, and how the industry can evolve to become more inclusive. We also do episodes on specific fat characters or movies about size. We’ve had some amazing guests like Lauren Ash from Superstore, Jenny O’Leary who originated Martha in the West End production of Heathers, and bestselling author Jennifer Weiner! The podcast is my absolute pride and joy. I’ve made so many wonderful friends through it.
What do you like to do when you are not performing?
Being from Vermont, I’m a bit outdoorsy, so I love to camp and swim and generally be in nature when I can. I also enjoy cooking and thrifting.
You are coming to Edinburgh with a show this Fringe, can you tell us all about it?
More Than Tracy Turnblad is a fierce, funny, feminist cabaret that explores fat representation in entertainment. As a plus size performer, the roles I’m told I can play are either limited and stereotypical, or they’re, well, Tracy Turnblad, the singular young fat female lead in all of musical theatre. In the show, I detail my personal experiences with fatphobia in the industry while dissecting and dismantling cultural stereotypes about fat people. The show is both a takedown of and love letter to the entertainment industry, featuring music from popular shows like Mean Girls and Wicked.
What difficulties are there in transporting a podcast to the stage?
Well, the show actually came first, so none! When the pandemic hit, I couldn’t perform the show and adapted it into a podcast. The main similarity is just the topic and my sense of humor. But after spending so much time talking about these things from a more intellectual lens, it’s both a challenge and a relief to get back into my body and emotions in order to do the show onstage again!
What emotions & thoughts do you hope to invoke in your Edinburgh audience?
I want people to laugh, cringe, sing along, and reevaluate their own behaviors and attitudes around body image. My ultimate goal is to help people gain a deeper understanding of this issue, since it so often goes unspoken in the artistic community.
You’ll know a good show when you have done one, what are the magic ingredients?
I think you know a good show when you feel you HAVE to make it. I had an acting teacher who always said, “a work of art is great if it has sprung from necessity.” It’s a quote from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. And I love that, because it gives me permission not to force creative output unless I really have something to say.
What will you be doing in Edinburgh when not promoting & performing your show?
My mom, sister, and boyfriend will all be visiting Edinburgh for the first time, so I’ll be dragging them to as many shows as possible and doing some historical touristy things as well! I love haunted things so I’ll definitely seek those out in particular – I used to be a ghost tour guide.
You have 20 seconds to sell your show on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
Ever wonder why plus size girls always play the mom in school plays? Or why the average size of a women on TV is less than half what it is in the general population? If you want to find out, come see this hilarious cabaret about body positivity in the entertainment industry, featuring Broadway songs you know and love!
More Than Tracy Turnblad
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Aug 22-27 (12:45)