The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

In the Spotlight

May 9, 2014

Pursuing a passion: City native brings production to off-Broadway theater

JOHNSTOWN — Marla McNally Phillips believes in following your life’s passion, and her passion has taken her straight to the stage.

“I’ve been in the music business my whole life, and now I’ve come back to theater. I’m drawn to it,” said the Johns-town native, who now resides in Santa Barbara, Calif.

McNally Phillips, a graduate of Susquehanna University, where she majored in music education with a minor in theater, is the lead producer of the play “Under My Skin,” which is set to open Thursday at off-Broadway’s Little Shubert Theater in New York City.

The production is billed as a comedy about sex, love and health care.

“It’s about caring for your fellow man and realizing we’re all this boat together,” said McNally Phillips, who also has worked as a music publisher for the past 25 years.

The play was written by Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser, who co-wrote and executive produced “The Nanny.” It tells the story of a CEO at a leading health care provider and a single mother who’s trying to make ends meet.

Thanks to a twist of fate, the two wind up in an elevator together, and following an accident, find themselves in the wrong bodies due in part to a clumsy angel.

The adage of “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” is taken to whole new level as the pair begin to experience each other’s lives firsthand and see things from a very different perspective.

“It’s a smart play, and it’s a lot of fun and hilarious,” McNally Phillips said.

McNally Phillips, who joined the production in 2011 when the play was on stage in Pasadena, Calif., said “Under My Skin” had its New York preview in early April and was met with good reviews.

“We have a fabulous cast and team. I know this show is great,” she said. “I really believe we’ve done the best we can with it. The rest is now up to the public.”

Not forgetting her hometown roots, Phillips invited friends from Johnstown to come see the play prior to its official opening.

“I had a group of my best friends come – 25 of them – by cars, trains and planes to support me,” the Bishop McCort Catholic High School graduate said. “I would love nothing more than having folks from Johnstown come see the play and have a great evening.”

As for what’s next after “Under My Skin” wraps, McNally Phillips isn’t sure. That’s just the way she likes it.

She said she looks for projects that excite her whether that be signing a new musical artist or taking another stab at Broadway.

“I like not knowing and wondering what is going to take me to the top of the mountain tomorrow,” McNally Phillips said. “Don’t put a label on yourself. Do things you feel great about every day."

McNally Phillips is married to L. Lee Phillips, an entertainment lawyer, and has two daughters, Courtney and Camille.

For more information on “Under My Skin,” visit www.undermyskintheplay.com.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.

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