- CHARITY BENEFIT
Introducing Jeremiah James the Newest and Hottest El Gallo
The newest El Gallo, Jeremiah James, will have women, girls, and men swooning. This terrific singer, actor and dancer was a jock before his sister tricked him into auditioning, but the moment he heard that applause, he knew this was for him. He has been on a fast track to the top ever since, with 3 albums under his belt, opportunities to sing for Queen Elizabeth, and a performance of “An Evening with Marty Panzer,” a benefit for The Manilow Music Project that was produced by Sandi Durell and Pat Addiss.
T2C: What’s it like getting to play the iconic role of El Gallo?
Jeremiah James: It’s a thrill, “The Fantastick’s is 52 years old; it’s the longest running off-Broadway show in the history of musical theatre. Working with a fantastic cast like this is a dream job, and one that I look forward to playing for awhile. It’s been in my top 10 roles that I’d like to play.
T2C: What else is on that list?
JJ: Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Ravenal in “Showboat,” my all time favorite musical, Julian Marsh in “42nd Street” is dear to my heart, as my sister has done about 6 to 7 productions, and Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” is still my number 1 role. Anyone who fell in love with theatre is in love with this show. “Music of the Night” is the most popular male theatre song of all time.
T2C: You worked in London with Teatro, how was that experience?
JJ: Teatro was such an amazing experience that you had to keep pinching yourself that you were really there; it took me places I never thought I would go. We were recording artists, so it was a new experience. 2 records, actually 1 record and a couple of EP’s, singing for Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip as well as millions of people on television, 6 or 7 various TV appearances including: The BBC Countdown (London’s equivalent of Dick Clark’s New Years Eve show), Good Morning Shows, UNICEF concert in Belgium with 70 or 80 million people in attendance.
T2C: What are other career highlights?
JJ: Touring the U.S. as Curley in “Oklahoma,” performing at The Pantages Theatre where I had seen so many shows. I started my career in Los Angeles, so it was a coming home party. I will never forget performing and talking to Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, and opening a brand new revival of “Carousel” in the West End in 2009. It was an incredible mixture of old school with new school technology by Phil Dudley. He took the concept of a scrim and made the whole crime scene feel three-dimensional while retaining a classic theatre foundation.
T2C: How did you get started?
JJ: I was tricked into theatre. My sister Jennifer Reed was a professional performer, and while she was directing ”Anything Goes” and needed guys, she threatened me by saying, “I know you’re scared.” I went to the audition, but before I read the breakdown and decided which role I wanted to play. I sang “Happy Birthday.” They laughed at me and I was angry; they wanted to know why and when; I told them, they laughed even harder. I had written that I wanted to play Reno Sweeney. I read gambling and nightclub singer; I hadn’t read the rest. I was done after that, but the two prettiest girls from school stopped me and that was it. I played sailor boy #4.
T2C: When did you know you were hooked?
JJ: The moment I got on stage and heard the people clapping. I was only in the chorus, but I was completely hooked. We made them happy, that feeling of unbridled joy in this 99-seat theatre. The next show, I was given the lead of “Li’l Abner,” and after was “Oklahoma,” in which I played Will Parker.
T2C: I hear you’re a sports fan.
JJ: I still love football. My team is the Buffalo Bills, and I am a die-hard fan. You’ll know if I’ve had a good Sunday or bad Sunday based on this. I am fanatical.
T2C: Where did the journey go from there?
JJ: I switched schools to go to the Hamilton Academy of Music in High School. My first professional gig was “Big River;” I played Tom Sawyer at the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance, California. I was nominated for best lead actor for Bobby Childs in “Crazy For You” – NY the Drama Logue Awards. I lost to Douglas Sills, but the Tony nominee for “Evita,” Michael Cerveris lost to me as Hedwig.
T2C: I know you have a terrific story about cruise ships. How did that come about?
JJ: I auditioned when I was 19 for cruise ships and I immediately got it. I bounced from theatre to cruise ships, but when I was 23 I met my wife. I was Prince Charming and she was Cinderella. We were the best of friends and we never dated, but when it came time to leave I realized I wouldn’t see her again and the thought crushed me. I went running into her room and told her I loved her. Thank god she loved me back.
T2C: Tell us a little about your album.
JJ: I made a record that was released in 2010 called Tupelo, which is the name of the birthplace of Elvis Presley and it is all his music.
T2C: What would you like people to know about you?
JJ: I want people to know that I am grateful. I love making people happy in this art form, and anyone who would like to meet me after a show is more than welcome. I have done more than I would have imagined possible. I also love hearing people’s reactions. In London three little ladies came back to see me after “Carousel.” One of them had her first date some 60 odd years ago at this very show and she wanted to thank me for bringing that back to her. I love that I could transport her back in time and touch that place emotionally; that’s worth everything.
With that, we ended our interview, and it was the perfect lead out as “Try to Remember” began blaring in my head. You can catch Jeremiah James on his opening night playing Ell Gallo starting Friday, May 11th.