Erika Henningsen is Rearranging the Pieces in JOY at George Street Playhouse


It all started with a mop. A self-wringing mop, a makeshift workstation in a garage, and a desire to make something better than before: that’s the story of Joy Mangano. Here in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the mop is ever present, 32 years after its invention.

My afternoon starts at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center where I’m watching part of a tech rehearsal for George Street Playhouse’s production of Joy. Erika Henningsen is onstage as famed QVC personality Joy Mangano, building a Miracle Mop in real time. At a workbench cluttered with supplies, she’s pulling doll hairs and reaching for a staple gun. The scene is held to fix a quick technical issue—something with the automation—and Henningsen stays put. She’s examining the mop. Rearranging her prop tools not unlike the tools Mangano made her career with. She’s piecing together ideas and solutions in real time, thinking through how to make the song finale easier for everyone onstage.

The technical problem is resolved and the production breaks for dinner. Henningsen meets me in the lobby. I’ve just seen her create a makeshift Miracle Mop a few times over, so I have to ask: “Are you a problem solver, too?”

Read the full interview on Theatrely