[Interview] Jeremy Jordan Talks ‘Smash’ + Making A Musical at Schools in Need

Photo: (Getty)

Photos: (Getty)

He’s gone from headlining on Broadway’s “Newsies” to being one of the newest stars to come out of NBC’s “Smash,” but that doesn’t mean Jeremy Jordan isn’t making time to give back.

To help kick-off the “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical constructed by Lowe’s” initiative, Jordan helped volunteers from the non-profit Rebuilding Together and Lowe’s to rebuild East Rockaway High School’s theater after it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Last season, the “Make a Musical” initiative created musical theater programs in under-served schools across the country. This year, NBC, iTheatrics, and Lowe’s are working to help schools across America improve their theaters. Today, 30 schools were announced as finalists in the Make a Musical initiative — the five schools with the most votes by April 10 receive improvements to their theatre facilities’ renovations! All of the programs created last year are still up and running, so we can’t wait to see what this year’s initiative will accomplish in theater programs across the country.

We caught up with Jordan to talk “Smash,” helping out the East Rockaway students, and his hopes for future karaoke tunes.

ACT: You were pulling double duty performing in “Newsies” on Broadway and filming your role on “Smash.” What motivated you to make the leap from the stage to the small screen, and work solely on “Smash?”

Jeremy: Well I knew I was going to have to eventually. I sort of wanted to stay with the Broadway show as long as possible just because I had only been doing it for four months at the time and I felt I wasn’t done there. They told me that I was only going to be working a little bit at the time at the beginning on “Smash” but it got to be a lot really quickly. So I did it for as long as I could. I actually ended up getting married in September right after the fifth episode so I kind of used that as my break-off point. I got married, had a short honeymoon and then I came back, and it was just “Smash.” I’m a one-woman man and a one-show man.

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Jeremy and his ‘Smash’ co-star, Kathrine McPhee, on set.

ACT: For those who don’t know, what can you tell us about your character?

Jeremy: Jimmy is a sort-of rising composer. He and his best friend and writing partner, Kyle, are sort of writing this next American musical. They work in a bar in Midtown and are sort-of still looking for their big break when Karen comes in and overhears them playing their stuff and falls in love with it. She sort of helps shepherd them up the New York theater ladder. Jimmy also has a lot of issues personally. He has some drug issues, some anger issues. He doesn’t really get along with people so it’s a big obstacle for him and for his show because of that. He also sort of develops a relationship with Karen that is very hot and cold; it takes a while to develop throughout the season.

ACT: It’s clear theater and performing onstage is a big part of your life. Is that why you helped Lowe’s and iTheatrics rebuild East Rockaway High School’s stage, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy?

Jeremy: I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been very interested in giving back to the community. Now that I’m on this TV show, I was given the opportunity to sort-of be the face of this and help spread the word and help get under-served programs get on their feet. A lot of schools I know are starting to cut funding for theater programs and if we can help a few of those schools get back to where they should be, if I can be an ambassador for that, then that’s a huge honor and I jumped at that.

ACT: Why do you think students benefit from theater and performing in front of people?

Jeremy: I think it’s incredibly important. I mean, for me, I was very shy and I was very introverted as a kid, but whenever I set foot on stage, I kind of opened up and I think a lot of kids need an outlet to express their creativity. And a lot of kids are scared to do that if there’s not a safe environment for that. A lot of wonderful actors, directors, artists, and musicians come from middle school and high school and that all starts then. If they’re not given that opportunity then, then not only are they starved of that opportunity but the world is starved of their creative talents.

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Jeremy loves puppies, too! Here, he volunteers with Broadway Cares.

ACT: We heard you helped the East Rockaway High School students rehearse for their first show on their new stage. How did that go?

Jeremy: It was fun! They tried to teach me some of the dances and they were dancing circles around me. It was fun to get to interact with them and see how happy they were. They were just really excited; they didn’t really need any help from me. They were totally prepared.

ACT: Finally, you had a pretty awesome debut on the show. Does that mean “Broadway, Here I Come” is your new go-to karaoke song? If not, what is?

Jeremy: Oh I try to stay as far away from karaoke as humanly possible! I hope all the songs I get to sing can one day be transformed into karaoke tracks for drunken college students to butcher at will. I can’t wait to hear all the YouTube versions of all the songs. I love that kind of stuff. It’s kind of funny; as a kid growing up and listening to soundtracks and singers, you always sort of mimic their reflections and their vocal riffs. I’ve gotten to hear people mimicking things that I did, and that’s kind of cool to think that I’m one of those people that can be emulated in that way.

If you want to do more to help music education programs in your area, take action below.

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