When Jeremy Jordan takes the stage at the L.A. Arboretum with the Pasadena Pops Orchestra on September 12th, he will be performing a medley of songs created by Oscar-winning composer and arranger Johnny Mandel for singer Andy Williams. The medley includes “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Mona Lisa,” “All the Way,” “Moon River,” and more.
Jordan is best known for his role on Smash and his roles as Clyde Barrow in the musical Bonnie and Clyde and as newsboy Jack Kelly in Newsies The Musical. He received a Tony Award nomination for the latter. Earlier this year he starred opposite Anna Kendrick in the film version of The Last Five Years. This fall he will be seen in CBS’ highly anticipated new show Supergirl.
We spoke with him about the concert, his career, and the heartbreak of not joining the musical Finding Neverland on Broadway after playing J.M. Barrie in the Boston tryout before New York.
The songs you’ll be doing with the Pops Orchestra are different than what audiences have heard you do before. What are the joys and challenges of doing this material?
This is what I was trained in, and I’ve never really had the chance to sing like this much because of modern musical theatre and what I look like and what I can do with my voice that others can’t. This is the kind of music that a vocally well-trained person can dig into—it’s about opening up. When you listen to Andy Williams it’s so free. He can do whatever he wants. The challenge is doing the songs justice; These songs were created when people’s voices were different. It’s a fun challenge to find that place in your voice that can help transport people back to that time.
Fans of yours might dismiss this material as being before their time. Why should they care about these songs?
There’s this sort of lush, romantic quality to this kind of music. These orchestral arrangements are what the top music producers were creating at the time. Some people tend to say that some older songs feel trite and too old-fashioned. The truth is, they were, back in the day, incredibly innovative.
Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Alan Cumming, and other Broadway stars have opted to do television. What is the allure of television for stage actors?
There’s definitely an enticing money element. Sometimes the shows we really love to do are an out of town workshop, and they’re not going to pay very well. Why not step out and go and make a decent amount of money you can bank, and then you can come back and do something less rewarding monetarily? It’s a great way to get your name and face out there. You can go back [to Broadway] and do those things you love with a greater level of success. It’s also a different muscle, and we get sucked into the allure of flexing that muscle. That’s what I’m trying to do.
One of those out-of-town shows was Finding Neverland, which went to Broadway without you. How did you handle that?
I ran the gamut of emotions on that one. I got very excited about the character and the role. I was playing older, and it was the challenge to lead a show for the first time since Newsies. As soon as we opened, I got a call from my manager: Matthew Morrison’s agents were trying to get him the offer for Broadway. He had done a previous workshop for the show. I struggled with it for a month and a half; every night I felt I had to prove myself and fight for my position. After the show closed it was another month and a half before I got the news. It was devastating. I knew the show would be a box office success, whether or not critics liked it.
What’s your long view of your career going forward?
I hope that in 25 years I will have a few more Broadway shows under my belt. I think the first chance I get to go back I will probably take—as long as it is a good role. Even if something crazy happened and I became a big movie star and got a big franchise, I’d come back in a heartbeat. Nothing has been as gratifying as performing on Broadway. Nothing even comes close.