At Broadway's Jesus Christ Superstar, It's a Family Affair — Twice

By Robert Simonson
18 Mar 2012

Jason Sermonia and Julius Sermonia
photo by Monica Simoes

According to Sandy Winsby, who is Andrew and the understudy Pilate/Caiaphas, his and his son's being cast in Superstar came down to vocal abilities. Jonathan had already been cast as Lancelot in Camelot. "I had been at Stratford before," Sandy said. "I was brought in to audition and sang before Des. I think they were looking for a younger company. But they said, 'Oh, what a great voice. Gray hair and a high voice. That's useful.' Jonathan was kind of hired for the Camelot role and they thought, well, he has a good voice. He can do this and understudy Jesus. We were both lucky with the range of our voices."

Sandy Winsby has a long history at Stratford, so when another younger Winsby showed up, staff members recognized the name. They also recognized the talent. "When I sang stuff for Lancelot, the music director stopped and said, 'Wow, you sound exactly like your dad.' We have very similar voices. I grew up mimicking my father. That's how I learned how to sing." Sandy Winsby was in the original Canadian companies of Cats and Les Misérables. "He saw me do a lot of shows," recalled Sandy. "He had a good singing voice as a child."

Unlike Jonathan Winsby, the Sermonia brothers had no parent in the business. Mom was a nurse and dad worked in the aircraft industry. But mother decided to enroll the boys in dancing glass. "Sports went down, dancing went up," remembered Julius. "It started to become really serious. Early on we decided this is what we wanted to do, be professional dancers." Their sister Jenny is also an actress, and was just cast in the national tour of Mary Poppins.

When in Stratford, Jonathan stayed with his father, who owns a house there. "It was great living together," remembered Sandy. "We barbecued and made meals together." In New York, however, they opted for separate digs.

"I don't think we'd want to — or rather he wouldn't want to [live together]," Sandy said with a laugh. "People would ask, 'Where do you live?' 'Oh, with my dad.'"

Jason and Julius, meanwhile, room together whenever they get a chance. And the Sermonia household is a tranquil one.

Said Jason, "To be honest, we get along. It's very rare to have two brothers get along. We've always bunked together."

"It's fun," added Julius. "You wake up in the morning and know the types of food you grew up eating are there."