Jeremy Jordan: Breaking Character
Broadway fans know him as pretty-boy killer Clyde Barrow in "Bonnie and Clyde" and as Jack Kelly in his Tony-nominated turn in the megahit, "Newsies." Followers of TV musicals watched him croon and emote in a plum role during the final season of "Smash." Moviegoers might have caught him playing opposite Dolly Parton in the gospel-filled "Joyful Noise." If not, they will have the chance to view him in the upcoming screen adaptation of "The Last 5 Years," based on Jason Robert Brown's romantic stage musical.
The ubiquitous Jeremy Jordan is on a fast track to stardom, and his latest milestone is conquering the cabaret scene in the deliciously entertaining "Jeremy Jordan: Breaking Character." This vehicle played May 5 and 6 at the Catalina Club in Hollywood, following a brief debut run in San Francisco. The Catalina was filled to the rafters on May 5 for the first performance, while anxious crowds waited outside for the second show.
The euphoric expectations were for good reason. Jordan "broke character" by offering a wide range of songs during the 80-minute show. He also demonstrated the versatility and beauty of his powerful singing "bass-baritone" voice, while charming observers with his warm and amusing patter.
The charismatic 29-year-old actor-singer introduced himself by speaking of the trepidations he faced in conquering this heretofore unexplored entertainment form. He amusingly entered in the guise of nervous 18-year old Jeremy, auditioning for college, and singing "Anthem" from "Chess."
He quickly switched gears to show us the poised present-day entertainer-relaxed, witty, and confident-introducing us to his superb music director/piano accompanist Ben Rauhala, as Jordan launched into the galvanizing ballad "Moving Too Fast" from "The Last 5 Years."
He offered a funny anecdote about his first day of work on "Smash," when he thumbed through the television script wondering where in the heck his character came in, following a few lines of dialogue in the opening scene. He was relieved to learn his introduction in the show was marked by quality if not quantity. He had closed out that episode with a showstopping solo number, "Broadway Here I Come," setting the tone for a great role that would be a key part of the season. He treated us to a glowing rendition of the song.
He next offered a meet-cute anecdote about becoming acquainted with his wife, Ashley Spencer, at Broadway auditions for "Rock of Ages," and eventually appearing in the show with her. Then he treated the audience to a surprise -- the radiant Spencer joined her hubby onstage, as they launched into a rocking medley of tunes from that show. She stayed on to duet with him for a killer rendition of "Maybe I'm Amazed," from "Joyful Noise."
Another surprise guest was Krysta Rodriguez, one of his costars from "Smash," who joined Jordan in the rousing "I Heard a Voice in a Dream," from their series. He also brought up an appreciative audience member from the audience, and crooned the romantic song "Bonnie" from "Bonnie and Clyde" to her.
A comic highlight was Jordan's parody of the song "Purpose" from "Avenue Q," retitled "Chipotle," and serving as an ode to red-hot cuisine and indigestion. He told us this was the number he used to audition for Robert Lopez for "Book for Mormon," a role he did not land.
Jordan sang three of his excellent original compositions, "Good Enough," "Revelation," and "Underwater." Reprising a number he performed last November in a stellar Sondheim evening, "A Bed and a Chair," at New York City Center, he brought renewed vigor to the gorgeous ballad, "Losing My Mind," originally sung as a female torch number in "Follies."
Saving something for last that everyone was clearly waiting for -- a number from "Newsies" -- he did a knockout rendition of the soaring "Santa Fe." Then for an encore he did a mashup of two showstopping songs: "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Home" from "The Wiz." These were perfectly appropriate numbers for a stellar entertainer who indeed seemed comfortably at home on a cabaret stage.
"Jeremy Jordan: Breaking Character" ran through May 6 at the Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood. For information and tickets on future Catalina shows, call 866-468-3399 or visit www.ticketweb.com.