'Onwards and upwards' for Ipswich man starring in Jersey Boys tour

Jordan James and two other Jersey Boys rehearsing for the tour

Rehearsals required masks, but Jordan said Jersey Boys is a dream show for his professional debut - Credit: Jordan James

Starting out in Les Miserables at the New Wolsey, Suffolk-born Jordan James is living out a musical theatre dream as he travels the country with the UK Jersey Boys tour.

The 26-year-old from Rushmere was cast as mobster Gyp DeCarlo in the touring production of the hit Frankie Valli musical last year and is looking forward to the long run ahead.

Speaking from Liverpool as the tour takes on ten nights at the Liverpool Empire, Jordan said: "It took me a little while to get here - I was a late bloomer to the industry, really, and only knew I wanted to pursue theatre when I was about 17.

"I'd just played Javert in the Children's Theatre Company's performance of Les Mis; that was the role that really made me want to go into musical theatre."

He graduated from the University of Chichester with a first-class honours degree in musical theatre and then moved to London to work at the London Dungeons and the Shrek Adventure experience.

But several months spent in Majorca, touring hotels and bars with the New Jersey Boys show, introduced him to the songs that he would be singing for his professional debut.

He said: "It was quite coincidental, but it's a dream show. I remember watching it in the West End some years ago now, wanting the chance to play Nick Massi, but Gyp DeCarlo is such a great role.

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"I actually play seven different characters, with Gyp being the biggest, the godfather of the show, but shifting between the different characters and voices keeps me on my toes."

Jordan grew up in Rushmere St Andrew and said he didn't really move outside of Suffolk until his days at university.

Jordan James plays Professer Callahan in Legally Blonde in Ipswich

Jordan James in Legally Blonde for the CTC in 2016 - Credit: Mike Kwasniak

And it was in Ipswich that he began treading the boards as a teenager, attending Northgate High and getting involved in youth theatre around the town.

As well as that all-important chance to play Javert, he remembered: "Back when I was 16 I did a few amateur shows for different theatre groups.

"I took part in a Co-op Juniors Christmas Spectacular and about four shows for the Children's Theatre Company: Les Mis, West Side Story, Joseph and Legally Blonde."

The cast of Jersey Boys UK tour rehearse for shows across the country

Jordan plays Gyp DeCarlo, a New Jersey mobster, as well as six other parts - Credit: Jordan James

Graduating in 2016, working in some of the capital's major tourist attractions and touring in Majorca was going well, but when the pandemic hit Jordan needed to pivot to a slightly different plan.

"Covid put a halt to auditions so when hospitality began to open up I went to work at a cocktail bar in Clapham that has singing floor staff as a bartender.

"I got quite into mixology and designing cocktails for a Japanese restaurant, Kibou. 

"Bar management was always my fallback if I didn't make it in acting, so I enjoyed being able to get some experience of that."

Getting back into acting was the goal, despite the theatre industry being one of the last to re-open when restrictions were lifted, and his hard work led to his first professional role in the UK tour of Jersey Boys.

The jukebox musical follows the story of the legendary group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and was first staged on Broadway in 2005 and on the West End in 2008.

The tour began in November 2021 and Jordan's contract runs throughout most of 2022, with a possible extension into the spring of next year.

After that, he said, it'll be back to auditioning.

"I'd love to continue to work on Jersey Boys, either on a cruise or in the West End instead of on the tour.

"But the plan is to keep at this level, really. Onwards and upwards.

"I tend to get typecast as older because of my natural low voice so that influences my thinking, but I'd love to give Javert a professional go. As well as Audrey Two from Little Shop of Horrors or Scar from The Lion King, those would be dream roles."

Jordan James as police officer Javert in Les Miserables in Ipswich

Playing Javert in Les Mis helped Jordan decide to pursue musical theatre - Credit: Mike Kwasniak

Bridie Horne, principal of Children's Theatre Company, said: "We are so proud of Jordan and have already been to see him on tour. 

"Anyone who saw him play Javert in our production of Les Miserables back in 2013 will join me in saying that we witnessed something very special back then and knew he was destined for bigger things. 

"Many of our part and full-time alumni are either in full time training at top performing arts colleges across the UK or performing professionally and it is the best feeling in the world to have been a part of their journey and for them to still be in touch with their CTC family."