As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Jeremy Jordan, who was about to step into the role of Seymour in the Off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors when the pandemic shuttered theatres worldwide. A Tony nominee for his performance in the Disney musical Newsies, the actor's other Broadway credits include American Son, Waitress, Rock of Ages, Bonnie and Clyde (Theatre World Award), and West Side Story. Jordan starred opposite Anna Kendrick in the film version of The Last Five Years, and his other screen credits include Supergirl, Smash, Elementary, Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure, Holly & Ivy, American Son, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Mix Up in the Mediterranean. He will be seen as record industry giant Neil Bogart in the upcoming feature film Spinning Gold, and his newest solo show, Carry On, part of the 54 Below Premieres series, will debut May 6 and will be available on demand through May 27. Click here for more information.
What is your typical day like now?
My wife and I take turns waking up with our toddler daughter, so getting the chance to sleep every other day is a positive side effect to not having a job! Mostly, we just hang out with each other and the kiddo. We go on walks, make dinner (or don't), try to work out a few times a week, and get projects and such done while the kid is napping or sleeping. It's a chill existence these days, but full of love as well.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Oh man, I dunno. I read a lot of fantasy novels, so I'm into the Stormlight Archive series right now. For TV, my favorites this past year have been Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, The Witcher, and Schitt's Creek. I haven't seen a lot of films lately... have I already lost my attention span?! No, I just prefer to go to the movie theatre, honestly. I like to immerse myself in the film, which is basically impossible to do at home.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
People should be aware that we are on the precipice of a true nexus in our community. Not just another turning point or another round of mild revolution; this could be a chance to reimagine how we do the business of entertainment. It may seem like a daunting task, but honestly it shouldn't be this hard for a bunch of artistic folks to act passionately with compassion. Isn't that what we're built for? Change is so incredibly possible, it should be practically inevitable, but it's people who look like me who have gotten in the way. So as a person who hasn't ever been marginalized based upon skin color or sexual preference or gender identification, I have come to recognize my part is to listen and amplify the voices of others. To learn about how I can be better and then, because I have people who look up to me, lead by example to the greatest of my ability. It could be beautiful, our reimagined community. It could be the standard to which the future looks to and says, "That's the way to do it."
We are equipped with powerful voices and boundless creativity. Imaginative and compassionate solutions should be right up our alley. I think a big change is coming. It may already be here. And, my message to those who stand in the way of that is this: Everything you love about the theatre was a product of bold change. We've never been ones to play by the rules. It's nothing new for us to want to think outside the box, but this time the box is the one we've built for ourselves over decades of privileged normalization. And, we've been in there a long time, thinking we've been making great art. But the great art we all seek to create is not always what is seen in the final product on stage beneath the lights... The real magic of what we do is the way we make people feel after they have experienced something new and beautiful. We can create that experience for one another every single day, starting with the BIPOC, LGTBQ+, and other historically marginalized communities, then radiating out into the world to touch every single person with an open heart.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
Make yourself a schedule. And, in that schedule, give yourself the time to do something you have always wanted to do but never had the time. Stick to the schedule, and don't set expectations for yourself. Just know you have the time, and use it at your own pace.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I've been super creative during this time. As an actor, we spend a lot of our time saying the words and singing the songs that other people wrote, which is lovely... We get to interpret, to let go of ourselves, and delve into someone else's world—but, since I haven't really had much opportunity for that lately, I've been putting my creative energy into my own work. I wrote a pilot (I don't think I'm gonna do anything with it, it was more just so I could see if I could... I could), I have written new music, developed a couple musical projects that I'm hoping will see the light of day in the near future, and I'm currently trying to write a very ambitious screenplay, which is kicking my butt, but it's exciting!
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I wish! I taped my one-man show, Carry On, which premieres in May... I've done a couple concept albums with friends and one reading. But that's it. Hoping to be able to finish what I started and jump into Little Shop of Horrors Off-Broadway when everything opens back up (I was five days away from my first performance as Seymour when everything was shut down last March!).