Jordan Dobson On the Challenges and Rewards of Being a Swing on Broadway | Playbill

How Did I Get Here Jordan Dobson On the Challenges and Rewards of Being a Swing on Broadway

He's back in A Beautiful Noise and will next be seen in a one-night-only concert of Glory Days.

Jordan Dobson Graphic by Vi Dang

Jordan Dobson—who played Prince Sebastian in the 2023 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bad Cinderella—will next be seen in Keen Company's anticipated benefit concert of another short-lived musical, Glory Days, which famously closed on opening night, playing just 17 previews and one single performance.

The February 12 benefit performance of Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner's 2008 musical, which has developed a loyal following, will be directed by Jonathan Silverstein and will also feature George Salazar and Tony nominees Derek Klena and Colton Ryan. Dobson will play Jack in the one-night-only concert staging of Glory Days, which follows four high school friends who reunite a year after graduation to enact revenge on their bullies. Click here for ticket information.

Dobson, who opened Broadway's A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical (and has since returned as a swing), has also appeared on the Main Stem in Hadestown and the 2020 revival of West Side Story. His many regional credits include productions of Hair, Austen’s Pride, Into the Woods, The Wanderer, Cabaret, Gypsy, Hamlet, and The Color Purple. On screen, the actor can currently be seen in Netflix’s Maestro, directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, where he portrays a conducting student who is taught by Leonard Bernstein. 

In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Dobson shares how a regional production of Parade changed his life and why that musical's original star, the late Brent Carver, remains an inspiration.

Jordan Dobson in Bad Cinderella Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Where did you train/study?
Jordan Dobson: Temple University’s musical theatre program in Philadelphia. But every show I do is like an additional education, so I’m still studying!

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor standout?
Amina Robinson was my first acting teacher at Temple, and I still call her to this day to help me with my career and craft. She just has a one-track mind for truth when it comes to acting. If she sees something that isn’t truthful, she won’t tolerate it…and I so appreciate that.

Tell me a bit about the character you'll be playing in Glory Days. Do you think the musical is still relevant 15 years later?
I’m playing Jack in Glory Days, and as they say in the show, “Jack’s the voice of reason.” He’s level-headed and extremely compassionate. Yet, he won’t tolerate disrespect whatsoever. This show is still relevant because everyone knows what it’s like to grow apart from a friend or group of friends. It’s incredibly difficult to come to terms with, so, of course, it’s intriguing to watch it play out in front of you.

Like the original production of Glory Days, you've been part of Broadway shows that had brief runs. How difficult is that for a performer after all the work that goes into it?
It’s definitely hard, because putting up a new Broadway show kinda takes over your whole life. So having a short run can hurt a bit. But I know the reality of the business we’re in, so I just try to have as much fun and learn as much as I can from each production.

Linedy Genao and Jordan Dobson in Bad Cinderella Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Can you share a favorite memory from backstage or onstage during your time in Bad Cinderella?
Favorite memory of Bad Cindy was getting to chat with kids at the stage door who were so excited to see a prince and princess who looked like me and Linedy [Genao]. It was the best gift from that production. Made me cry a lot of happy years to see young black Boys inspired by what I’m doing.

You're currently a swing in A Beautiful Noise. What are the challenges/rewards of being a swing?
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career but also the most fun! The main challenge is the amount of homework I have to do all the time to keep all the tracks in my head. The rewards are my body and voice aren’t dying from doing eight shows a week, and I am grateful for that!

What made you decide to become an actor? Was there a particular production or performance that influenced your decision?
I was going to study music in college until I saw a production of Parade at the Arden Theatre in Philly. It inspired me so much and felt like a nudge from the universe to really consider acting. There was a girl in the show (who later became a dear friend of mine), Kathryn Brunner, and her bio in the Playbill said she was a current student at Temple University. So, I decided that I’ll audition for that exact school, and if I get into their theatre program, it’s a sign that I should be an actor. And here we are!

Jordan Dobson at opening night of A Beautiful Noise Michaelah Reynolds

Is there a person you most respect in your field and why?
The late Brent Carver has always been the biggest inspiration to me. He was the first “leading man” I encountered that showcased a softness and femininity that I’d always been afraid to access. It made me realize I don’t have to be a huge tough guy to play leading roles on Broadway. He also gave every part of himself over to the audience when he performed. He was always and still is the standard of excellence that I try and hold myself to.

What advice would you give your younger self or anyone starting out?
Don’t put career before real life. Live an authentic life, and it will lead to the career opportunities that you’re actually meant for. We don’t have long on this earth, and our lives should not revolve around Broadway.

What is your proudest achievement as an actor?
Playing Orpheus in Hadestown! It’s the role that I felt the most free and alive onstage. It also required a lot with playing guitar, singing crazy notes, navigating three turntables, and working with legends like André De Shields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, and Patrick Page. I had to step up to their level and lead that show, which was something I’m extremely proud of.

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