BWW Review: Jeremy Jordan Exceeds All Expectations with His New Show CARRY ON at 54 Below
Jeremy Jordan has finished his first week of shows at 54 Below and will enter his next two weeks of shows on February 18th. Three weeks of shows is practically unheard of in most venues, and this show has been sold out for months. Rescheduled from November dates (one assumes this was so Mr. Jordan could film either American Son or Supergirl), the concert was completely sold out months in advance for those dates, too. With film and television gigs, Broadway runs, an upcoming job in the SRO production of Little Shop of Horrors and sold-out nightclub appearances, one could certainly surmise that Jeremy Jordan has it all - and one would be right.
Because now Jeremy Jordan has a daughter.
Mr. Jordan's current show at Feinstein's/54 Below is titled CARRY ON and it's a good thing this show has a title that isn't eponymous because this cabaret show is not stopping on February 29th. It needs to be turned into a play or a Netflix special because this is no mere cabaret show, it is a piece of theater, one that left this writer sitting in his chair, eyes THISBIG and mouth ajar for ten minute stretches at a time. Speaking personally, I can be and have been impressed by the artists performing in the cabaret/concert community but Jeremy Jordan has created something special enough to warrant ongoing reflection on the piece, days after the opening performance on February 12th. The event page on the 54 Below website declares that Jeremy Jordan is "continuing to tear down the walls of the conventional cabaret act" and it is a most accurate and apt description because tear down the walls is precisely what Jordan is doing. Never having seen one of his shows before (they're always sold out) I cannot say anything about the word "continuing" but I can say that with this 2020 show, he is most definitely breaking boundaries.
The play Jeremy Jordan is doing focuses on the life changes that came with the birth of Clara, now ten months old, and his reaction to being a father, most especially his concerns about raising her the right way. There is a conceit to the play, and there are devices he uses to tell the tale of how he is going to be the best father he can possibly be, but that's as much as this writer is willing to say on that subject, believing that every audience member who scored a ticket to this show should be afforded the luxury of experiencing the story in real-time. And this is some story. Jeremy Jordan has taken the time to compose a script for this play that is immaculately conceived and executed, not a sentence out of place, not one superfluous word, every emotion authentic, all the aspects of the story communicated to the audience with the utmost care, dignity, honesty, and affection - not just affection for Clara and Ashley Spencer (Mrs. Jordan) but care for an audience whose adoration he, most clearly, reciprocates. Also, Jeremy Jordan's love of cabaret is showing. During his performance Mr. Jordan comments that he never thought he would do the intimate setting of cabaret but that he has grown to love it, a fact substantiated by the craftsmanship that has gone into the creation of this theater piece and the meticulous manner in which he presents it to an audience who could be seen lovingly mouthing the words to "Santa Fe," some of them with glistening eyes. To witness the love between the star and their fans is a beautiful thing, and that's one of the reasons cabaret is such a valuable art - the rooms are so intimate that if you dare to take your eyes off of Jeremy Jordan (is such a thing possible?) and look at the people sharing the space with you, you will see a hundred different stories and different relationships, because every person in that room connects to Jeremy Jordan in a different, in a personal way.
On the subject of relationships with Jeremy Jordan, there is a brotherhood between him and his musical director Benjamin Rauhala, who is known as The Fairy Godfairy because of his work on The Broadway Princess Party, but Mr. Rauhala is more like a guardian angel, looking over his singing actors and keeping them safe and happy at all times. Perhaps he wears his angel wings during the day and his Godfairy wings at night; whatever the case may be, he is as charming and impressive as the man with whom he is sharing the stage at 54 Below, and together they present a lethal dose of adoration, casting a spell upon all who gaze upon their captivating friendship and artistic partnership, one that includes a lot of laughter.
The play that Mr. Jordan is doing does, indeed, feature many laughs for all. This self-proclaimed "Wild Card" sees to it that the audience gets their fair share of fun; he guarantees that they will feel many things during the 90-minute show. Sharing chapters from his life that are shocking and sad, he holds nothing back in his quest to let people in. Afraid of nothing, Jordan is content to tell all, including that which would readily be considered uncomfortable, but Jeremy Jordan has the gift of putting people at their ease and, at no time, was the subject matter too difficult to bear -- HE made US feel comfortable while we listened to the hardships of his life, each moment exquisitely acted with every fiber of his being. And the singing is so pure, like a direct lifeline from his heart to every individual. Jeremy Jordan seems to travel his voice to places unknown and, at times, unbelievable; it's like riding a roller coaster of sound. There are even times while he is singing that his facial structure actually changes and he looks like a different person - THAT'S acting. This exceptional artist is truly unlike any performer to step onto a stage and open a vein, and there should be no misunderstanding this: with his new show Jeremy Jordan is opening a vein, he is giving his all to his audience and to his art. His commitment and dedication, his creativity and his imagination are an admirable combination just right for building a world of wonder and soul-growth for the people in his life, and right now the number one person in his life is lucky little Clara
Jeremy Jordan is going to make one hell of a dad.
Photos by Kristin Pulido