Jordan Iosua Taylor is an up and coming actor in Seattle. He’s performed in the Sondheim masterpiece “Sweeney Todd” (ArtsWest) as well as in the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”. Currently, he is appearing at the 5th Avenue’s anticipated ‘new’ production of “Mamma Mia!” where he will be playing Sky, the young love interest of main character, Sophie.
“Mamma Mia!” the Musical is playing at the 5th Avenue Theatre, February 02 – 25, 2018. Get tickets here.
Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?
Jordan Iosua Taylor: My biggest influence was my grandma. She was a music teacher and an opera singer. I grew up in Spokane listening to classical music and that definitely influenced me. Thomas Hanson was a baritone singer from Spokane. I got to see him (in my sophomore year of high school) and I thought ‘Hey! He’s from my city. If he can do it, I can do it’. The way he performed wasn’t like other operatic stars. I didn’t like his voice all that much at the time, but you could tell what was going on in the opera by the way he sang. Opera sometimes drives me crazy because you don’t always follow what’s going on. He made it so you could follow it and that was fun. He also knew my voice teacher and they were good friends. I did the opera thing for a while but my first show was as Danny Zuko in the musical “Grease”. I didn’t want to do it at first, but I did and I had a blast. I loved it. I decide that since there was no dancing in opera, I wanted to do musical theater.
Andrews-Katz: What was the show that gave you the Theatre Bug?
Taylor: It was an anniversary special about Michael Jackson’s music. I saw it when I was about nine years old, and knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Andrews-Katz: What prompted your interest in becoming a Cross Fit trainer in Seattle?
Taylor: I had done sports all the way through high school. I gave them up for singing. I didn’t know it was going to turn into what it is now, nor where it would be going. I always had the athletic itch, so when I gave up sports I felt antsy. Then I saw the movie “300”, and loved it so much. I was sitting there and wanted to look like them. I did my research and saw the name CrossFit. The gym where I was working out at the time was becoming a CrossFit gym. I joined and when I moved here to Seattle, I had the great fortune of meeting Alyssa Royse and Brady Collins who own Rocket CrossFit. When I moved here I got ‘clean’, I am a recovering addict, and they allowed me to use the space, and help me get my certification in becoming a trainer. The month I became a trainer was the same month I got my first show in Seattle; “American Idiot” at ArtsWest. CrossFit and Olympic training is a big thing for me. It helps me stay clean. There were similarities [that I saw] in the main character of “American Idiot” (even though it wasn’t the character that I played). When you are in the addiction, you think you are a rock star at times even though you know where you are, and what you’re doing. You haven’t lost all of your humanity and logical thinking. The drugs blind you. When you do notice, sometimes it is too strong and you don’t have time to care until it ruins you.
Andrews-Katz: How do people hire your services if they want to get in better shape?
Taylor: They can come to Rocket CrossFit [in Rainier Beach] or Northwest CrossFit [Greenlake]. If they want to contact me directly, there’s FaceBook or Instagram if anyone is interested in my personal training. I mostly do classes because the schedule fits so well with acting.
Andrews-Katz: You were in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s “Romeo and Juliet”. What is it about Shakespeare that attracts you to his works?
Taylor: In many ways, it’s similar to why I chose the opera route. I did it because [opera] is truly the foundation of singing. Opera singers sing almost all their entire life; it’s the healthiest way. Shakespeare is very much the same for acting – it’s more the classical route. If you can do that, and do it well, you can transfer those skills to almost anything. It’s about [learning to and] being versatile. It sharpens your skills as an actor to do Shakespeare. I played Paris in “Romeo and Juliet” and it was my first experience. It was hard! Everything about it was learning to use different techniques. I am going to master them.
Andrews-Katz: Were you familiar with the epic poem by Joseph Moncure March before staring in the Andrew Lippa musical?
Taylor: I was not. I wasn’t aware of any of it. I had no idea of what it was, but…What a story! Now I’m familiar with both musical versions**, although I am more of a fan of the Andrew Lippa version. The way it was written appeals to me. The other version seems a bit too ‘jazzy’ for me. Lippa’s take feels more Rhythm & Blues, and that fits me more. I also think it’s a little sexier, it has more sex appeal than the LaChiusa version. I’m all about sex appeal in my performances.
**(Andrew Lippa’s version appeared ‘Off-Broadway’ while the Michael John LaChiusa version appeared on Broadway during the same theatre season – 2000. Both used the poem as a basis)
Andrews-Katz: You’ve performed in ArtsWest production of “Sweeney Todd”. How did the audition process go for that role?
Taylor: The audition was for people I knew so I felt comfortable going into it. It was also nerve wracking because of that, too. There were expectations, and everyone has insecurities about their work. It wasn’t anything grand and I felt like it was just another audition. I left feeling that I over sang my audition. They had me sing a cut from the song ‘Joanna’. I didn’t feel great about it. They usually cast a tenor because a higher voice makes the character sound younger. It’s not too high, but it is one of the most recognizable tunes from that show. I think it is a fan favorite. That song is just gorgeous. The written vocal line is absolutely entrancing. In many ways that show is my favorite show of all time.
Andrews-Katz: Do you prefer performing in fluff pieces like “Mamma Mia!” or more challenging roles like Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd”?
Taylor: Both for sure! Both have the ability to teach you new things, and to push you further as a performer and as a person. The role of Sky (in “Mamma Mia!”) may not be a huge role, but if you can play a small role honestly and truthfully, with the limited time you have to be on stage, people will see and notice. it. It becomes a skill in of itself It’s kind of like the saying that opportunity will present itself, so you should be ready for it when it happens.
Andrews-Katz: What is it about ABBA’s music that makes it timeless?
Taylor: I love ABBA. I knew all the songs before I came into the show. That’s not surprising. A lot their music are ear worms that you cannot get out of your head, no matter what. ABBA did this thing, musically speaking, where they were able to catch lightning in a bottle and then release it to the world. Every song in this show is catchy. The music is meant to make you move and this is exactly what this type of music does. If it’s a power ballad, it takes you on a journey. You can connect with the lyrics and go on the character’s story with them. That’s the beauty of this show. In this world, there may be shows like “Sweeney Todd” that can push the boundaries [of musical theater] and are considered edgy. Shows like “Mamma Mia!” have to have meat on the bones. But the face value is where you get to sit down and smile and laugh. We don’t get a lot of that in these current times. I think we need more of it.
Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of limitations – what would it be and why?
Taylor: My mentor asked me that question once. I don’t remember what my answer was but he said, ‘boring.’ My dream role is an original one. I feel like the artist part of me has something to say and something to contribute. I have no issues playing characters that are established, but it would be a goal (and a dream) of mine to originate a role on Broadway – to have it set for the future.
“Mamma Mia!” uses the songs of ABBA (written by original ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson) to further promote an original storyline (written by Catherine Johnson). After a huge success in London, the musical opened on Broadway October 05, 2001 and ran for almost 14 years. It was nominated for 7 Tony Awards. The film (starring Meryl Streep) added in the song “When All Is Said And Done” and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. It was the 5th Highest Ranking movie of 2008 and the Highest Ranking movie based on a stage musical until “Into the Woods”.