THE LEADING MEN: Pop Star Nick Jonas Returns to Theatre Roots for Broadway's How to Succeed

By Brandon Voss
13 Jan 2012

Jonas as Marius in Les Miz.

Prior to playing Link Larkin in last summer's Hollywood Bowl production of Hairspray, your first foray back into theatre as an established musician was as Marius in West End's Les Misérables in 2010. What made you return to your roots?
NJ: We were on tour in late 2009 when I got an email from producer Cameron Mackintosh, who said that he'd been watching my journey since I did Les Miz as a kid, and he wanted me to consider playing Marius for the show's 25th anniversary. I hadn't really thought too much about my reentry into theatre yet, but I was thrilled with the idea of doing Les Miz because the show meant so much to me. There were times I'd go see a show, love it, and say, "One day I'll come back to this and it'll be great," but I didn't have a real picture as to how much I missed theatre. It wasn't until I was back onstage around likeminded people that my passion returned, and I realized it was something I wanted to do all the time.

Once you were open to more theatre opportunities, how did How to Succeed come about for you?
NJ: A few different things caught the attention of the producers, but I think Hairspray was sort of the main piece. It was incredible when I got the call that the producers were interested in having me be a part of the show, especially because my brother Kevin had just seen it and told me he loved it. He was like, "This is a show you have to do if you get the opportunity." I immediately went to New York and saw it, and I thought it was such an incredible show. I'm so honored that I was asked be a part of it.

Poster art for How to Succeed

Did you have any hesitations about accepting the role of Finch?
NJ: There was definitely some thought about how big of a commitment it was, because it means that I'll be here in New York for at least six months doing this show. I had to really think about that and make sure that this was what I really wanted to be doing. I also had to make sure that my fan base and my brothers were OK with it, but everyone was cool, and it all worked out. I'm so stoked to come live in New York and have this opportunity.

Which theatre roles would you like to tackle next?
NJ: I'm actually sort of covering my bases, and it's such a blessing. When it comes to dream roles, Marius was my main goal; even when I was very young, I knew that I want to play Marius someday. I also really love the movie version of How to Succeed with Robert Morse, and I always said that Finch was a role I wanted to play someday too, and now I'm able to. As far as roles for the future, I've been approached about some new projects that I think would be really exciting. A couple very interesting opportunities have come in post-Hairspray. It's just about feeling out which shows would be best and which roles I want to take on. I'm so blessed to be in the position I'm in, and I'm looking forward to the future.

Back to the subject of art imitating life, you recently shot a guest spot for NBC's "Smash" as Lyle West, a former Broadway child star who has achieved mainstream stardom as a young adult. More importantly, did you get to meet fellow guest star Bernadette Peters?
NJ: I didn't, unfortunately, because she was on the episode directly following mine. We keep missing each other, because she left Annie Get Your Gun before I came in; I did it with Reba McEntire. But we've got to run into each other at some point, right?