Recovery Takes the Stage

A Q&A with Actress and “White Chip” Producer Annaleigh Ashford

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
4 min readJan 3, 2024

This Q&A, facilitated by Jeremiah Gardner of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, was published for Hazelden Betty Ford’s monthly Recovery Advocacy Update. If you’d like to receive our advocacy emails, subscribe today.

Annaleigh Ashford
January 22 through March 9, 2024, in New York City: Get Tickets

Annaleigh Ashford is an award-winning actress, singer, and dancer who — after experiencing addiction in her family — also became passionate about helping others find healing, hope and recovery. In addition to supporting the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation through The Lights of Broadway Show Cards “Giving Back” program, she is producing a new production of THE WHITE CHIP, an autobiographical recovery comedy written by Sean Daniels and starring, among others, Ashford’s husband, Joe Tapper. (The title is a reference to the color of chip that newcomers to Twelve Step meetings typically receive.)

Ashford participated in a panel discussion with Hazelden Betty Ford and others following the Feb. 9 performance of THE WHITE CHIP at The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space in New York City. Through the generosity of several donors, we were able to fill the theater. Ahead of that evening, we checked in with the actress, who starred with Josh Groban in last year’s Broadway hit Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, earning her third Tony Award nomination as well as a Grammy nod in the category of Best Musical Theater Album. She won the Tony Award for her role in You Can’t Take it With You (2014–2015) and also was nominated for Kinky Boots (2013). Other notable Broadway credits include Wicked (2007), Legally Blonde (2007), Hair (2010), and Sunday in the Park with George (2017). Ashford released her debut album Lost in the Stars: Live at 54 Below in 2015. Film and TV credits include Welcome to Chippendales (2022), Impeachment: American Crime Story (2021), B Positive (2020–2022), Unbelievable (2019), Bad Education (2019), and Masters of Sex (2013–2016).

Annaleigh, thank you. To start, I’d love to hear more about what motivates your support and advocacy for addiction recovery …

My husband and many of my closest friends are in recovery, so support and advocacy for recovery organizations has been a family affair for our household since my husband got his white chip almost 12 years ago. My husband’s family has struggled with the disease of addiction, and he has lost some loved ones including his father to the disease.

We’re so very grateful for your support of Hazelden Betty Ford as we celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2024. What drew you to bolster our mission through the Lights of Broadway Show Cards “Giving Back” program?

The Lights of Broadway Show Cards “Giving Back” program gave me an incredible opportunity to share with folks how important the topic of recovery is to me and my family. Hazelden Betty Ford has been a beacon of light for people I love, so I want to pay it back in any way I can.

How did you get connected with The White Chip, what story and messages can audiences expect, and what are your hopes for it?

My husband, Joe Tapper, was cast in a beautiful production before the pandemic. Sean Daniels wrote an incredible piece of theatre, and Sheryl Kaller directs it beautifully. The play is an act of service. It has the capacity to change lives. I really believed that it needed another life so more people could see it. It stays with your heart in the way that only great art can. People see this play and go to Al-Anon meetings. People see this play and call their sponsor to say thank you for working the Steps with them. People see this play and they get their white chip. That’s why we are doing it.

In its review of The White Chip, the New York Times called the play “a delicate equilibrium between laugh-out-loud comedy and gasp-inducing tragedy!” Why do you suppose that works, and might it be the same reason laughter is so common in recovery support meetings?

I love that you are talking about how much laughter there is in meetings. With dark, there must be light. And there is so much more light than there is dark in recovery. We laugh a lot in meetings so it’s very fitting that we laugh a lot in this play.

At Hazelden Betty Ford, we’re investing a lot to expand mental health, family and children’s services. What do you feel is important for people to know about the impact of both addiction and recovery on families, and the benefits of professional and peer services for family members?

Addiction touches every member of a family, so recovery should too. Family and friends need help navigating life after recovery for their loved ones and for themselves. Like any other disease, it takes time for everyone to heal.

What does it mean to you personally to be an advocate, to give back and to be of service?

It’s an honor to be an advocate for recovery and offer up this piece of art. God always guides you to your acts of service. They find you and you serve them with love.

Annaleigh Ashford and Joe Tapper family

What’s next: Sign up for updates on Hazelden Betty Ford’s upcoming 75th Anniversary events and opportunities.



Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

As a force of healing & hope for those affected by addiction, we feature insights and views from leading voices on prevention, treatment & recovery.