A conversation with Broadway Bounty Hunter’s Jasmine Forsberg and Jared Joseph
by Craig Donnelly
CRAIG DONNELLY: Hi guys! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! Let’s get started. First of all, Jasmine, congrats on your off Broadway debut! Does performing in New York for the first time feel different than you had expected?
JASMINE FORSBERG: Thank you so much, Craig! Performing in New York City for the first time has been a more positive experience than I could have ever imagined, and that has everything to do with the wonderful company that I am surrounded by every day. At the beginning of the process, any feelings of nervousness or intimidation were quickly replaced by warmth and a sense of welcoming. I now understand why they call it “Joe Iconis & Family”.
CRAIG: And what’s it like working with composer Joe Iconis and producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper again? Like, how is this process different from working on Love In Hate Nation at Penn State University?
JASMINE: Despite a change in scene, working with Joe and Jen again has been very similar in many ways. In both a professional and educational environment, they challenge the artist with direction, choreography, and music (down to the underscore) that is rooted in circumstance and intention. I think that speaks volumes about how Joe and Jen have always fully embraced one of the core messages of Broadway Bounty Hunter — Age does not define talent, or wisdom, or one’s contribution to an artistic process.
CRAIG: Jared, tell me what the audition process of the show was like.
JARED JOSEPH: The audition process was great. The room was so warm. (My fellow actors know what a gift that is.) They asked me to sing a song from my book- which is great because it offers me a chance to have a grounded audition moment. They also requested that I prepare a cut from one of the big numbers in the show, “Red.” This song is infectious. There’s a magic in soul/funk music; it lives in my body. The joy I felt singing it was palpable, I would imagine. That audition led to a callback to do more sides and dance for Jen. Jennifer Werner- our director and choreographer has a style that I think I understand. Joy is at the center of it. And, the one superpower I have is tapping into my joy. So, longer story shortened, it was all good vibes in the room. Everything seemed to be in alignment. I had the audition I intended to have. Even if I didn’t get the show, I was proud of myself... and, Thank God, I got it.
CRAIG: And what are the different roles you both play in the show?
JASMINE: I play Cortnie Jessica Davies, Indigo, and others.
JARED: I play so many people; Audition Monitor, Felipe, Kevin, a Fetish Ho, Another Director, Sexy Algebra Teacher... I can barely keep up.
JASMINE: Come see the show to see all the other roles I can’t give away just yet!
CRAIG: Oh, I definitely will be! Now Jared, I know you were in The Book Of Mormon on tour. Did the comedic tones from The Book of Mormon help build your character in this show?
JARED: The Book of Mormon certainly informed some of it. It’s one of the smartest musical comedies ever. But, for this show, honestly, it’s Robert Townsend, Eddie Murphy, and Martin Lawrence that shape my approach to a lot of the characters I inhabit. Hollywood Shuffle, Harlem Nights, and the tv show ‘Martin’ are genius source materials: they influence me greatly, nightly.
CRAIG: Totally, so, with all of these characters, how would you say the ensemble helps tell the story in BBH?
JASMINE: The ensemble serves as a vehicle for pushing Annie down to rock bottom, as well as lifting her up to defy society’s ageist opinions. Also, you can’t become a bounty hunter without proper training.
CRAIG: Makes sense!
JARED: The ensemble helps tell the story by setting the tone of every scene that we’re featured. We’re there for the entire ride of the play. We know this story. The story is always being expressed in our body language, our reactions, and our costumes- so brilliantly designed by Sarafina Bush, I must say. If there is ever any confusion on what’s happening, look at us, we got you.
CRAIG: That’s a great way to put it. So Jared, how has opening a show off-Broadway differed from your experience opening Holler If Ya Hear Me?
JARED: Being a bit more seasoned in the business, the difference lies in what I’m paying attention to these days. Today, I’m much more focused on the business of theater- how it works. I’m asking questions. (Thank God, I work with producers and a creative team who are open to sharing a bit of what they know.) The process of getting to opening, though, is the same for me. I love collaborating. I love being a part of the ground floor of new works. Much of my career has been rooted in developing shows. The biggest collaboration most recently was Ain’t Too Proud (and I am extremely proud of my contribution to that project.) It’s like being a part of a start-up company. It never gets old, always exciting. I love telling stories. Whether it’s a Broadway show like Holler If Ya Hear Me or an off-Broadway show like Broadway Bounty Hunter, I feel extremely blessed to do what I do.
CRAIG: And Jasmine, I heard that you’re still in school! Are you going back in the fall?
JASMINE: Yes! I plan on returning to Penn State University after the run to continue pursuing a BFA Musical Theatre degree. I can’t wait for the next time I’m working in New York City!
CRAIG: That’s incredible! Well guys, thanks for chatting with me and can’t wait to see the show!