Phillipa Soo has a voice that gets your attention. It helped earn her a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Eliza in Hamilton and won her the Lucille Lortel Award for lead actress in a musical in 2015. Now the 31-year-old is taking her exceptional voice off Broadway and using it to help a debut author.
An Audible Original, Lily Chu’s The Stand-In is narrated by Soo. The audio book, set in present-day Toronto, tells the story of Gracie, a young Chinese-Canadian woman who gets mistaken for a famous Chinese actress visiting the city to star in a play. In turn the actress hires Gracie as her double, sending her off to attend red-carpet events and press launches in her place.
“It was recorded during lockdown, so everything was remote,” Soo tells me from her home, in Brooklyn. “I was sent a big box of recording equipment to my house. And I basically set up a studio in my closet. There I was next to my shoes and my wedding dress … and the winter coats!”
The Stand-In is a story with a lightness of touch and a contemporary relevance that resonates with millennial listeners. “I was immediately drawn in by [Gracie’s] wit and her sense of humor,” Soo says. “She hit very close to home in terms of her personal experience.” Like Gracie, Soo is of Chinese descent. “I loved jumping into her mind and into her world,” she says.
The project also came with a host of unfamiliar challenges. “I’m the only person acting out all of the roles [in the book], so I just started talking to the director, talking to the writer, about how they saw all of these characters,” Soo says. “Deciding how to differentiate them within my voice” was the hardest thing. “I wanted to be able to tell this very fun story in the clearest way possible.”
Beyond The Stand-In, Soo is set to star alongside Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, and Will Poulter in Danny Strong’s Dopesick, a Hulu series premiering next month which confronts the bleak realities of America’s opioid epidemic. She will also join Elisabeth Moss in the Apple TV+ series Shining Girls, set to premiere in 2022. Based on the 2013 best-selling novel by Lauren Beukes, the time-travel thriller marks yet another departure from Soo’s previous projects.
Perhaps it’s time Soo invested in a stand-in of her own …
The Stand-In is available on Audible
Bridget Arsenault is the London Editor for Air Mail