Friday, 30 September 2022

INTERVIEW: Jordan Shaw, currently playing Enjolras in the West End production of Les Misérables

Jordan is currently playing the iconic role of Enjolras in the West End production of Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre, recently its been announced he will be staying on with the show in the upcoming cast change. 
Jordan has appeared in many productions throughout his career, including playing Simba in The Lion King (International Tour); Worker in Hadestown (National Theatre); John Bucchino's It's Only Life (Union Theatre); Kevin in the London revival of Follies (National Theatre); Michael in Tick, Tick... Boom! (Park Theatre); Stevie Wonder and understudied/played Marvin Gaye in the Original London cast of Motown the Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre); Pouncival in Cats (London Palladium and Blackpool Opera House); the West End revival of Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre) and u/s Charlie, Olen, Andy, Clarence and Dance Captain in The Scottsboro Boys (Young Vic) directed by Susan

Fresh from appearing in one of the world's most loved musicals, Jordan finds some time to chat to us about his career and being part of the world's longest-running musical. 

You’re currently playing the role of Enjolras in the West End production of Les Miserables. How does it feel to be playing such an iconic role and to be flying that red flag every night?

It’s an absolute honour to be a part of Les Miserables. The show has been running for 36 years and there have been so many incredible actors that have been a part of this show, so for me to be playing the role of Enjolras and waving the flag, I never take it for granted. I truly believe this is a masterpiece of a show and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

What was your first exposure to Les Miserables and has it been a show you’ve wanted to do since then?

I grew up as a musical theatre kid listening to different shows, and I always loved listening to Les Mis. However, it wasn’t until my early teens that I got to see the production in London and fell in love with it. I always wanted to be a part of the show, but I just never saw myself in it. It wasn’t until later in my training that the dream of playing Enjolras became something that I truly aspired to.

What does greater representation and diversity in theatre mean to you?

It’s so important to me. If I didn’t see black men that looked like me onstage when I was a little kid, I don’t think I would have been inspired to follow through with my hobby to make it a career now. I think musical theatre is a fantasy land, and it’s time to really start stepping out of what is expected and challenge people’s opinions of how theatre can represent all different shapes, colours, sizes, sexualities, and genders. I’m aware that in the last 36 years of Les Miserables being in town, there haven’t been many black people playing principal roles. It’s an absolute honour that I have the privilege of hopefully being able to inspire young kids that come to watch the show so that they see themselves and think they can do something like this too.

Les Miserables has so many iconic and wonderful roles, if you were to switch one evening and play any other role in the show, which one would you choose and why?

I’m going to have to say Thénardier. It’s such an incredible role because you get to be funny, but you also get the awesome contrast of being a villain as well. He provides so much relief for a show that is well known to be quite sad.

Looking back at your career, you’ve gained many credits, from leads and understudy roles to West End and Fringe productions. Are there any shows or roles that still remain close to you today?

That would have to be my first job out of drama school, The Scottsboro Boys, which was at the Young Vic. I was a Swing and a Dance Captain, so as you can imagine I was very busy and very stressed. I wish I had taken a moment to appreciate what an incredible piece of theatre I was a part of. People still talk about it today, and if it were to ever come around again, I would love to be a part of it.

You previously played the role of Simba in The Lion King; what was it like playing a real-life legendary Disney character?

It was an absolute dream come true! When I was younger I always wanted to play Simba in The Lion King, and a lot of my training and my focus was inspired by that role. To be a part of it was an absolute ‘pinch me’ moment. We took the show internationally to cities that don’t have such a big theatre community - it was so nice to feel the love of theatre in so many different countries around the world.

You’ve performed in various theatres, both big and small. How would you compare the experience of playing in huge iconic houses to smaller intimate ones?

I personally prefer smaller venues because it means you can be the most honest and truthful with your performance and acting. However, I’ve been lucky to be a part of big ensemble shows such as Miss Saigon and CATS in some huge venues, which means that you can really perform and give it your absolute all so you can engage with the audience at the top and right at the back of the theatre.

Looking beyond Les Miserables, are there any other roles that you would love to play in the future?

I’ve been longing for the day that Jason Robert Brown’s Parade comes to London. I did it when I was at the Brit School and I would absolutely love to give my shot at playing it professionally too. I think it’s such an incredible show and it means a lot to me. In addition, I would love to play Fiyero in Wicked, that is definitely a dream role of mine as well.

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