Meet Marcus Jordan (he/him) – Co-Director and Vocal Director for our 2022 Main Stage Production of RENT!
Marcus Jordan (he/him) is currently one of our Co-Directors and Vocal Director for this year’s production of RENT! Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Marcus moved away after receiving his undergraduate degree. He spent six years in New York City in pursuit of a performance career and spent his time there working as a professional actor and a music educator. If you didn’t know Marcus is also a twin! He loves chicken and bourbon, and loves spending time with his chosen family.
RENT is Marcus’ first time directing with Circle Theatre and was heavily inspired by our Executive and Artistic Director, Lynne Brown Tepper. Last summer, Marcus and Lynne had collaborated within Actors’ Theatre’s Summer Series and found that “her warmth, her kindness for others, HER PERFORMANCE CHOPS, and her spirit led [him] to want to work with Circle Theatre as a director”. After their time together, Lynne reached out to Marcus and his RENT co-director Ellie Frances via Zoom about a potential project, and the rest of history! Marcus credits that Zoom call to be one of the most important calls of his artistic career thus far.
“Working on Rent truly enhanced my life. I don’t have the words to adequately describe my gratefulness for Ellie Frances, Deb Perry, Joni Hodsdon, and the cast. They’ve made me a better musician, a better leader, and invited me to become a better human. I love them. #modal” – Marcus Jordan
For the entirety of the Fall of 2021, Marcus and Ellie spent an ample amount of time “creating the physical world of our production, dissecting relationship dynamics, updating and di-binarying character descriptions, and exploring the score and book to find the major themes and plot points”. One of his favorite memories about the planning process was coming up with each element of the production from Mimi’s room/altar to the Support Group chair orientation. Where! A mouthful, but I guess you’ll have to see the show to understand that one!
Marcus spent time learning RENT’s score cover to cover in order to understand the vocal storytelling demands for each role and even found himself building intimate relationships with the characters, exclusively through this score study. An incredible experience, indeed, this process includes truly appreciating the range, style, tessiture, music genre references, cultural nuances, and so much more that proves what RENT is all about. If you didn’t know, RENT is a sung through show, which means that the music becomes a main vehicle for the narrative.
Callbacks were the one of the hardest parts of this entire process. It’s known that Circle Theatre is filled with an incredible amount of talent and transparency, so everyone was expected to be ready to sing and act down. Marcus even mentioned that there were multiple times he threw his notebook, gave a stank face, and screamed right there in the middle of the room! Callbacks were no joke and there were multiple directions Marcus and Ellie could have taken this show.
Working on the ensemble number “Will I” for the very first time marks a fond memory of the production process for Marcus, along with the rest of the music and music intention rehearsals. During this time, every cast member was tuned in and open to communicate, discussing the complex questions stated in the piece: “Will I lose my dignity? Will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?”. Marcus said the entire room shifted and it was the first time in the process that the entire cast dropped into transparency and emotional availability that this show demands from its actors. It is something Marcus plans to carry with him for years to come.
If you have or haven’t had the chance to experience Circle Theatre’s RENT, Marcus hopes that above all else you will take away the idea that “Liberation at all costs and every human is worthy of community. No matter where you are on your journey, you deserve to have a voice, to be seen, and to be loved. I truly believe humans have a responsibility to care about others. I also believe that Jonathan Larson, the composer wrote that into his show as the last lines of the piece are “I die without you / No day but today”. The charge is to love and to see others. Differences be what they may, we must see and hold each other. Kindness, compassion, and love require action. Our hope is that this show invites the audience to contemplate how they can be an active community member. #measureinlove”.
Over the course of these last few months, the cast started what they call “Fashion Friday” where they show up wearing clothes and costumes of different themes! He did his best to keep up but said these actors have a collective style and swag that is truly unmatched!
As we enter the last few days of RENT performances, Marcus has a few words to say to those who have not had the chance to see it:
“Come see RENT because this cast has something beautiful to share with you. Every cast member in this production created a vivid and complex human experience to live within the world of Rent. They are all committed to honoring the people whose voices weren’t heard or accounted for during the Aids epidemic/housing crises of the 90’s (or presently for that matter) . Overpoliced and terrorized Black and Brown people, the Queer community, and the Un-Homed population to name a few. For the last eight weeks each cast member has dedicated their time and energy to cultivating a show that asks the audience to lean in and listen. But ultimately, they leave the audience with a charge, a charge to build and liberate all. This cast is truly remarkable.”
You still have time to see RENT at Circle Theatre! Running through May 21, don’t wait! Get your tickets today at circletheatre.org.