THE LEADING MEN: Carrying the Banner to Broadway, Jeremy Jordan Revisits Disney's Newsies

By Michael Gioia
15 Mar 2012

Kara Lindsay and Jeremy Jordan
Photo by T. Charles Erickson
What are the advantages of adding Katherine, an aspiring female journalist and Jack's love-interest, to the story versus having reporter Bryan Denton, the character from the film?
JJ: Well, the only disadvantage is that we don't have Bill Pullman [who played Bryan Denton], but I don't think we were going to get him in the first place! [Laughs.] Instantly, the story is more interesting. You need a female character in a show. There's a great new aspect of women's suffrage and women's rights and women coming up in the world that's added by this one character. It adds a whole new level to the progressive nature of the piece, and it also adds a pretty nifty love story and some cool twists along the way.

Alan Menken mentioned that Jack's duet with Katherine in the second act has changed for Broadway.
JJ: Yeah, it's different. In the Paper Mill version, it was much more of a "let's-figure-out-what's-really-going-on-here" kind of a song. It was like a scene that was set to music. Here, we really made it into a love song, which is something that we needed in that moment. It's a Disney show, and it's a love story. I think it's only appropriate to have a kick-ass love song, and that's what we've put on stage.

Tell me about the dancing in the show. Were you always a dancer?
JJ: [Laughs.] No. I'm not a dancer, Michael! I think people think I dance more than I do just because there's so many guys dancing, and you can't always quite tell who is who. I do get to dance. I dance more than I've ever danced before on Broadway, so I'm working pretty hard, but everybody else makes me look good — I can't complain! It's fun and exciting to get to do a little bit here and there without being pressured to have to do double tours and split-leaps. [Laughs.]

Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan in Bonnie & Clyde.
photo by Nathan Johnson

What is it like working with director Jeff Calhoun? He's directed you in both productions of Bonnie & Clyde and both productions of Newsies.
JJ: Jeff is the only guy I work with nowadays. I don't know if you heard! [Laughs.] It's literally my fourth production in a row that I've worked with Jeff on. It's a dream. Jeff is a wonderful director. He's got a great eye. He casts wonderfully. He speaks eloquently, and gets out of your way and knows exactly when to step in. He's unselfish. He's a true collaborator.



Originating two roles in one season — is there pressure?
JJ: Pressure? No, I'm excited! It's kind of strange that I'm originating two roles in one season. The reason that doesn't happen often is because, generally, when you originate a role, hopefully [the production] stays open for a while so you can't originate another role in the same season. [Laughs.] Sadly, one show had to close in order for that to happen, but it's exciting. I never really felt like I've made my mark on the New York stage, and now, suddenly, I feel like I'm bursting onto it. I feel like my career is on an upswing. It's thrilling!

Besides Newsies, do you have any upcoming projects?
JJ: Just Newsies. I'm hoping that we'll be sticking around at the Nederlander for a while.

(Michael Gioia's work frequently appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Write to him at mgioia@playbill.com.)

Watch highlights from the Paper Mill production of Newsies: