Jeremy Jordan :: Broadway & TV Star at The Herbst

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Sunday March 11, 2018
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Jeremy Jordan, the multi-talented singer-actor who's shared the screen and stage with newsboys, superheroes and bank robbers, will sing and talk with accompanist and erudite interviewer Seth Rudetsky on March 18 at the Herbst Theatre.

The series of informal fun concert talks, produced by Mark Cortale, benefits Project Open Hand, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Beneath the boyish smile and bashful demeanor is a powerhouse vocalist with a broad range and the acuity to infuse an entire spectrum of emotions into one song. In a Bay Area Reporter interview, Jordan discussed his love of performing, and a bit of the ups and downs of show business.

"Seth will spring a few things on me," said Jordan of his upcoming event with Rudetsky. "But it's more like an interview and sing situation. We'll sit down and chat and do some songs."

Check out the numerous YouTube clips of Jordan from New York's 54 Below and at various charity concerts. Whether paired with musical theatre colleagues Jonathan Groff and Cheyenne Jackson, or even stripping down for the sexy cabaret series, Jordan transforms songs with his own personal style, from intimate intervals to the triumphant closing notes of his version of "Let It Go."

Asked about his impressive four-octave vocal range, Jordan modestly confirmed it but added, "not including falsetto; you don't count that."

Jordan, 33, born in Corpus Cristi, Texas, has been a talented singer since his high school choir days. His musical theatre degree from Ithaca College was followed by regional theatre credits, until Jordan got a big professional boost in a production of Rock of Ages.

"I always knew I could sing a little bit, being a kid. But I was super shy. I started singing seriously in high school, so I always knew that it was kind of in there. After I got training in college and experience in the real world, I think I improved a lot."

Jordan has also played Tony in "West Side Story," was the first to play Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in "Finding Neverland," and costarred in a title role in the musical "Bonnie & Clyde."

Fans of "Newsies" know Jordan starred as Jack Kelly in the hit Broadway musical about striking newsboys. That role garnered Jordan both a Tony and Grammy nomination. The actor had a particular affection for the show and the 1992 Disney film it's based on. Jordan has said that he practically wore out his VHS copy (His filmed stage performance is available on DVD).

For fans who are more TV-oriented, Jordan's witty portrayal of Winn Schott on "Supergirl" has grown a big fan base.

"He has his moments of brilliance," Jordan said with a quiet pride. "He lends a unique lighthearted �- but also smart - voice to the show that I really enjoy."

Playing Jimmy Collins in Season 2 of the short-lived musical-theatre-themed "Smash" is another of his broadcast credits. Asked about performing for the camera versus in a theatre or cabaret show, Jordan discussed range and interpretation of songs.

"That's kind of the hallmark of a well-rounded performance," he said. "You need to have all those powers within you. I purposely strive to create different aspects of a performance, even within each song. You find the funny moments, the serious moments, the big and intimate moments, and within characters. People are nuanced in life, so why shouldn't your characters or performances be equally different? We can turn on a dime with our emotions. That makes characters and songs more relatable."

In films, Jordan starred in the filmed production of the show "Newsies," the ambitious music romance "The Last Five Years," and the fun music-filled comedy, "Joyful Noise" as Dolly Parton's grandson.

And while you can listen for his voiceovers in the TV adaptation of Disney's Tangled (as Varian), it's in the cabaret and concert platform that Jordan unleashes ripping versions of hits and standards, including some Disney songs written for princess characters.

Equally adept as leading man or sidekick, Jordan has endured a few career bumps along the way, like being almost cast in roles taken instead by his quasi-nemesis, Jonathan Groff (the two performed a duo about their rivalry).

Like his colleagues, Jordan is deft at balancing musical gravitas with wit. In several of his cabaret and concert performances, Jordan performs what could be considered 'camp' choices (Disney princess songs and "Total Eclipse of the Heart," for example) and empowers them with a serious engaging style.

"People want to be taken on a journey," said Jordan. "Whenever I see a show, I want to get lost in it. I think that's the key to it."

Conversely, Jordan can also take a standard hit and turn it into a comic treat.

"I just try to keep people on their toes," he said. "Give 'em the unexpected. The worst is sitting in the audience when you can predict what'll happen. I try to surprise myself. When I do those little one-off gigs like at 54 Below, it's just me sort of on the fly, trying to be funny to make people laugh."

Jeremy Jordan in Bonnie & Clyde with Laura Osnes.

That combination of skill and nuance makes his live performances a treat.

"I know I have the vocal chops in the bank," said Jordan. "So my primary goal in those kinds of shows is to just mess around with people and just make it as entertaining as possible. Even if you do what people expect, try to do a different take on it, in a way that evokes a different emotion."

Ten months out of the year, Jordan is on a Canadian set for "Supergirl," so don't expect to book tickets in a new musical for now.

"We shoot a lot, so no show has fit into that window. These little concerts are fun, until there's Broadway in Vancouver."

And while he's played gay (in a Connecticut production of "The Little Dog Laughed"), and his character Winn Schott may still have a man-crush on Superman, Jordan is married to actress Ashley Spencer.

He's shown support for the LGBT community time and again, including the 2016 controversy of his teenage cousin being sent to an East Texas 'ex-gay camp.' In 2016, Jordan alerted fans on social media, and he endured some criticism. But eventually, his speaking out helped get her released.

Like his "Supergirl" costar Melissa Benoist, Jordan sometimes shares information and opinions on various causes, from the environment to fundraisers and social justice issues. But Jordan said he refrains from getting too invested in social media..

"If I offend people by accident, those are the things you have to be careful with on social media. Especially in this kind of climate, where everybody is connected, and because of that availability of information, you have to be a little cautious. It's backfired a few times. But mostly people are respectful and positive."

Fame can be a fickle thing, but Jordan continues to be honest and uplifting with his fans.

"As I'm in it more, it effects me less, or I learn how to deal with it. I decided recently to just put kindness out there, to not post rants. So many other people do it, and that's their thing. But I think: Be fine with where you are in the physical world, not online. Take stuff outside, meet people in real life."

At his March 18 show, Jordan says to expect some levity and a few lesser-known songs.

Asked if he has a lengthy memorized repertoire, Jordan said he still likes to brush up on his hits.

"There are a good amount of songs I can pull out of a hat and sing somewhat reliably. But there are a lot more songs I can't do that to!"

So expect some favorites and surprises.

"There will be lots of humor, because we're both a couple of hams."

Jeremy Jordan with Seth Rudetsky at The Herbst Theatre.

Sunday, March 18, 5pm. $50-$150.

401 Van Ness Ave.