Juliana Canfield Preps for ‘Stereophonic’ With IV Drips & Acupuncture

Juliana Canfield is living out any actor’s dream.

After four seasons on HBO’s hit drama Succession as Jess, the trusted personal assistant to the chaotically ambitious elder brother Kendall (played by Jeremy Strong), Canfield set her sights on her next project: breathing life into the character Holly, a stoic keyboard-vocalist in an off-Broadway play called Stereophonic. It felt right, and like a worthwhile next chapter.

Little did Canfield know, her instincts were spot on. Set in the 1970s, Stereophonic centers the bliss and agony of a rock band’s creation process while on the brink of superstardom. The play proved to be a winning formula: a compelling script, a cast that gelled onset and off, and genuinely enjoyable music that transports its audience back in time. After a sold-out run at Playwrights Horizons that racked up glowing reviews, Stereophonic moved to Broadway—which marked Canfield’s Broadway debut, and went on to garner a record-breaking 13 Tony nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Canfield. Stereophonic now holds the record as the most nominated play in Tony history.

The experience has been full of heartwarming moments for Canfield, along with life lessons that continue to help her expand as an artist. “At the end of the play, there’s a little prerecorded bit that I sing,” Canfield tells W. “And the first time I recorded it, I tried to sing it as hard as I could. I was trying to have a big ol’ belt-y moment.” But after hearing the final version of the recording during rehearsals, Canfield hated it. “It sounded horrible. It didn’t sound like me.” She got to redo the track, this time letting what felt truest and in service of her character lead the way.

“It’s hard to listen to oneself sing, but I love hearing that last bit of music in the play,” Canfield adds, “because it feels really true to me.”

Below, the actress opens up about facing her fear of singing onstage, the power of acupuncture, and what practicing self-care has looked like for her while starring in a hit Broadway play.

For many artists, what’s creatively nourishing and what’s commercially successful often seem at odds. But with Stereophonic, you got both. How has that experience been?

You hit the nail on the head. It is so rare to be involved in a project that has so much creative enjoyment and challenge baked into the process, and that also seems to reach a significant audience. I’d finished Succession—another one of those kinds of jobs—a couple of weeks before I first read this play. So I feel like I struck gold, completely accidentally, twice in a row. What’s so lovely about working on a project that feels artistically fulfilling is that the audience response and the awards and the attention are all just icing on the cake—nice extras.

Juliana Canfield and her Stereophonic costars (from left: Sarah Pidgeon, Tom Pecinka, Will Brill, and Eli Gelb) in New York on May 2.

Photo by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

You’ve been open about initially feeling scared to audition for the role of Holly. Where do you think the fear was coming from?

I was afraid of singing in front of other people. Singing, for me—and I think for many people—is really vulnerable. The idea of having to credibly present myself as a rock star was something I’ve never really been asked to do. And I’ve never asserted that I could do that before. So when I was asked to put myself on tape singing, I was afraid they would see the tape of my singing and feel that I wasn’t good enough to be a part of the play. I was scared of being rejected on that basis.

Being in the show, I’ve realized, like, oh, this isn’t musical theater, it’s okay that I have my own fingerprint. I have my own way through these songs. I’m trying to be the best version of my own kind of singer, and that was a big lesson.

Photo by Valerie Terranova/Getty Images

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So much emotional labor goes into giving a performance, and the entertainment industry, in general, can be brutal. How do you like to refill your cup and unwind?

Especially now that it’s nice out, I spend a lot of my mornings before I go to the theater taking walks and looking at all the beautiful flowers blooming in my neighbors’ front gardens. I’ve also been drinking a lot of herbal tea. I like the Yogi Throat Comfort with a little bit of manuka honey, because I’m trying to keep my voice in good shape, and that really does it for me. The other thing I’ve been doing lately is vitamin drips.

Like the IV drips?

Yes, I’ve been getting glutathione which, in the beauty sphere, is very good for your skin and very detoxifying. It’s also, anecdotally, believed to be very good for your vocal cords, and I’ve noticed a huge difference. I go to Clean Market on 54th Street and get my little glutathione drip and then walk over to the theater. We also do acupuncture every week. We have a physical therapist who comes in, too—and she is making miracles happen. I don’t know how I would do the show without her or our acupuncturist.

When I’m winding down at home, I like to watch an episode of something with my boyfriend, and we do sort of a director’s commentary and chit-chat about whatever we’re watching. If I’m being good, I’ll put on my LED mask for the first 20 minutes of the movie and have my cup of tea.

When you’re going out, is there a beauty item you absolutely have to apply?

When my skin is healthy and moisturized, that’s the biggest thing for me. I don’t wear a ton of makeup. I love a little blush, that’s the most important makeup tool for me—something that I can put on my cheeks and lips to give me a little rose. And before I go to a party, I always put on perfume. I’ve worn Kelly Calèche by Hermès for, like, 15 years. That’s my old faithful and I always have a bottle. The other one I’m using right now is the Neroli scent by Perfumer H—I love it.

Canfield at the 2024 Met Gala.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG24/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

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How about younger Juliana—was there a beauty trend you participated in that you look back on like, oh dear, what was I thinking?

I used to get my eyebrows threaded in college, and I remember one time I did it, I broke out. I had little whiteheads all around my eyebrows. That was kind of the end of my eyebrow-doctoring journey. I don’t do anything to my eyebrows anymore and I don’t think I ever will again. It’s a slippery slope. One day, they were totally fine, and the next day, they were pencil-thin and scary looking.

And also tanning. I used to really go out there and bake in the sun when I was young—as we all know, that’s horrible for you. I like being outside, but I always wear sunscreen and I try to wear a hat.

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