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Exclusive Interview

Y&R Alum Darcy Rose Byrnes Shares Her Own Kind Of Madness

darcy rose byrnes

Ever since playing Y&R’s Abby as a tyke (2003-07), Darcy Rose Byrnes has amassed quite an impressive resume of TV and film credits. Now the 20-something actress is conquering a new arena: musical theater, where she’s been appearing since May 30th in a reboot of Reefer Madness: The Musical, an irreverent, wickedly funny cautionary tale of young people becoming addicted to marijuana.

Byrnes is front and center in the show in one of the lead roles, squeaky-clean teen Mary Lane, whose all-American boyfriend, Jimmy Harper, becomes enslaved by the drug. “The way I got into it was very ordinary,” she explains. “I wasn’t even familiar with the show prior to auditioning, which I put on self-tape. From there, I got a callback and this is where the magic started to happen because one of the boys I read with was Anthony Norman, who is my Jimmy Harper now. Something that we did in the callback ended up in the show, so it seemed meant to be and such a good fit.”

Actress Kristen Bell (The Good Place, Frozen) portrayed Mary Lane in the show during its 2005 off-Broadway run and subsequent adaption for Showtime, and she’s now part of the production team that has brought the live stage version to the Whitley Theater in Hollywood. (So is Christian Campell, ex-Bobby Warner, All My Children, who starred as Jimmy opposite Bell.) Not only did Byrnes get a glowing review for her performance from Variety, but Bell herself raved that Byrnes “is doing it better than I did and I think she deserves every bit of praise that she will get after this production.” For her part, Byrnes gushes that Bell “is just a wonderful person in general, but there’s a specialness that comes with having the person who made the role famous be in your corner and so supportive. That’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling.”

darcy rose byrnes, kristen bell

Bell Ringer: Byrnes with Kristen Bell, one of Reefer Madness‘s producers.

For this latest version of Reefer Madness, the theater has been transformed to resemble a 1930s speakeasy that’s set up with tables for the audience to sit at, and throughout the performance, cast members often come down from the stage to sing and dance among the spectators – which can lead to unintentional bloopers. Since Byrnes’s tresses reach all the way down to her waist, “We had to change the way that my hair was put up because at one point I was hitting patrons with it, so it really is immersive theater,“ she chuckles. “I had a friend who was in the audience and she got whacked by one of the joints getting tossed around. When they apologized to her, she said, ‘Are you kidding? That was the funniest thing in the entire show!’ ”

Because the show is continuously evolving and undergoing changes, Byrnes is happy she can rely on her soap training to think quickly on her feet. “When we’re slicing and dicing the show, and getting it as tight as possible, I genuinely don’t know how it’s going shake out on a given night,” she explains. “When we make new edits and have to quickly rehearse it two hours before showtime, and I get through it and don’t drop a line or accidentally revert back to what we’ve done before, in my head, I’m going, ‘Thanks, Young And Restless,’ because that’s where I learned how to do last-minute changes in one take.”

Shows have been regularly sold out and although this run is scheduled to wrap on July 21, there are talks of not only an extension, but making Reefer Madness: The Musical a permanent fixture at the Whitley. If that comes to pass, Byrnes, who is busy with other acting projects (including recording an album of songs she’s written), plans to play Mary five times a week. “Part of the beauty of it being here in L.A., it’s in my backyard,” she points out. “I absolutely love this show, plus I don’t have to be at the theater until the evening, so there is still time during the day for other work. This is a revival and yet I feel like we’re building something new and I want to be there for the whole process.”

To purchase tickets to Reefer Madness, click here.

darcy rose byrnes, eileen davidson, the young and the restless

Brian Lowe/

We Knew Her When: Byrnes with TV mom Eileen Davidson (Ashley) on Y&R in 2005.