Where are you from? Topeka, Kansas
Broadway credits: Les Miserables, Sunday in the Park with George, Billy Elliot, A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder
How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was in NYC for the day to be at an audition, and moments before I walked into the room, I got a call from Tara Rubin’s office that I had to send to voicemail. As soon as the audition was over, I raced to my phone and called them back. The receptionist said, “Dunja (the casting director for Les Miz) just stepped out, let me have her call you back.” Torture. I walked to the big McDonalds on 42nd street and sat upstairs to wait. 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 80 minutes went by, so then I caved and called them back asking when Dunja was expected to be back in. "Oh I’m sorry, she walked right back in after we got off the phone and I forgot to tell her you called.“ (Me: silent scream) Dunja came on the line and said, "Jeff, I want to congratulate you- the team wants you to be in the ensemble of the upcoming Les Miz revival… Hello?” Me: “Oh my god.” Then I spent the next three hours calling my family, friends, and every mentor/teacher who’d ever helped me get there. I couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day.
What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Broadway Inspirational Voices. They. Can. Sang. They give me chills and bring me to tears. I think the only way to describe it is to say they make me feel like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH3BTk7V1PU#t=17
What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I am fascinated by Broadway stage managers. It is still one of my favorite things to watch someone call a show from the deck- talking quickly in code, pushing buttons, flipping switches, managing the unexpected and staying cool as a cucumber. They are so rad.
What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? One place where I really find inspiration is when I make a trip out to my friend David Hibbard’s lake house at Upper Greenwood Lake in Jersey. Being from Kansas, sometimes living in Manhattan gets to be a lot, and the lake helps me clear my thoughts. It’s my own Walden Pond.
If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Barack Obama. Duh.
If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… my pen pal, Thoa, who lives in Vietnam, because I know the experience would make me appreciate everything about my life. We have so much excess in this country and take it all for granted- I know this, and yet still grit my teeth when there’s a line at Starbucks. I think living for one day in a place where running water is a luxury would forever alter my perspective.
To be successful in this business, it takes… some natural ability, a whole lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck.
Tell us a secret. I had to stop myself from finding a clever way of answering each of these questions with a picture of my daughter, Lena. She and my wife, Nikki Renée Daniels, are my everything. So I will include said picture here and congratulate myself for only including one gratuitous baby pic.