After role of lifetime, Jonathan sets his sights on opera
Jonathan Edward Christopher was just a teenager when he got his first stage role in a high school production of Pippen.
It was a nerve-wracking experience as the role required him to sing for the first time in public — but it was also when he realised his passion for performing.
The rest was history for me, he said. I was sharing the stage with my brother and sister who were both in the show as well.
The more theatre we did together as a family, my brother, sister and I, it really brought us together. With our father [Hamilton Town Crier Ed Christopher] being a performer and our mother [Theresa] being an artist, the path just continued to make sense and I finally found my calling.
When I was little I didnt know exactly what I wanted to be, but once I found the stage I knew that was the path I wanted to take, he said.
The 25-year-old just wrapped up a play with an Iowa-based theatre company, where he performed the role of the emcee in Cabaret.
He was surprised to get the part in musical theatre, especially after spending several years studying opera. Nonetheless, it was the role of a lifetime for him, he said.
His favourite part was singing a tune called If You Could See Her Through My Eyes.
The play is set in Germany, just prior to the Second World War, and the song comes at a point in the plot where an elderly woman decides not to marry the man she loves because he is Jewish.
Its this terribly sad scene where they break and I come on and have this comedic number, Mr Christopher explained. The last line is If you could see her through my eyes she wouldnt look Jewish at all.
Its really funny in that it starts off as this long song where I am singing to a gorilla, but its also teaching the audience a lesson at the end: just because we are all different doesnt mean we cant all be together and be one as human beings.
Mr Christopher grew up in Bermuda, until age ten when he moved to the States with his family. He said he was proud to be a Bermudian going out into the world and telling my story and bringing Bermudas love and joy to the rest of the world.
A few months back he took part in a four-man show, Forever Plaid Presents Plaid Tidings. He sang Christmas carols in the doo-wop style of the 1950s and 60s.
His next opportunity to perform on stage will be back in his forte of opera. In addition to studying classical voice and theatre at the University of Michigan, he went on to receive a masters degree in opera from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
He will also perform in an upcoming production of Porgy & Bess, playing at the Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee in June.
I play the role of [a cotton picker named] Jim and I understudy the role of Crown, who is the villain. I am very excited its an opera and excited to see which route we take with it, considering we just started rehearsals on Monday, he said.
Mr Christopher said his ultimate goal was to travel the world and sing classical opera. He has already been featured in productions at the Syracuse Opera House.
Right now I am excited I am able to travel and do some regional work in both opera and musical theatre. I hope I can continue to do that as I grow old and get more seasoned as a performer, he told The Royal Gazette.
I would love to perform on Broadway and go to Europe and do an opera there as well. I love languages and that is what brought me to opera in the first place, the study of languages. Since Europe was where opera began and its just so embedded in their culture, especially in Italy, Germany and France, I would love to share and experience their love of opera even more so than I already have.
He spent his summers as a student getting opera training in European cities and got to meet and work with classical performers, singers, musicians and directors.
For now, he said he felt very blessed to be able to travel and see where his talents take him.
I am still very young for opera seeing that the male voice doesnt full develop until age 33, but I am grateful now for the chance to get my feet wet in the musical theatre roles, he said.
That is why I am doing a bit of both. Hopefully this coming fall I will move to New York and start exploring more of the theatre scene there and see what its like.
Useful website: www.jonathan-christopher.com