Mount Olive’s Jordan Barrow Joins the Wicked Cast on BroadwayJan 08, 2022 10:49AM ● By Joe Nicastro
Photo credit: Polk & Co.
By Steve Sears
In 2005, when Jordan Barrow was 14-years-old and living in Maryland, he begged his mom and dad for a special Christmas gift. He wanted to see a stage performance of Wicked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
His parents delivered that special gift to him, and he still has the program and ticket stub from that evening.
Now, he’s got another great gift for himself, and a return gift for them. Barrow, 30, a former Mount Olive resident and Mount Olive High School grad who now lives in Brooklyn, was recently cast as the first black performer ever to play the role of Boq in Wicked at Broadways’ Gershwin Theater.
When his performances were scheduled to begin, Barrow’s photo was placed outside the theater with the rest of the cast. “It's pretty remarkable, because I know that if I were a black performer, age 15, 16 or 17, or even eight-years-old going to see a Broadway show, and I saw me (Barrow’s picture) outside of a theater, I would lose my mind. ‘There’s someone who looks like me who is doing this, and look what they're able to do, and look at these people who have endorsed them.’ It's just an honor to know that it's happening at all, and that I'm going to be able to be the person to bring that story to people.”
His first performance was Tuesday, December 7, and his parents were in the audience. “It's been amazing,” Barrow says excitedly. “The first show felt very strange. There are moments that I completely don't even have memory of, like I was sort of out-of-my-body doing it. And it just keeps hitting me that, when I leave the house to go to work, I'm going to the Gershwin. It's nice to do a show where every night people really want to be there.”
Barrow’s first role at Mount Olive High School was How to Succeed in Business during his sophomore year. “I was just happy to be there,” he recalls. “It was a new school, and I got a fairly good role which was great, because there was a lot of talent at Mount Olive.” In his senior year, Les Miserables was presented, and sandwiched in between was Barrow’s nomination for a Papermill Playhouse “Rising Star Award,” where he did the summer conservatory and performed in The Miracle Worker. “That was really one of the first times that I knew I could really make theater a career,” he says. He next went to the University of Michigan to study Musical Theater, and while there also studied abroad in London for a semester at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Shakespeare in Performance program.
When he exited Michigan U, for Barrow it was not a quick ascent to roles, while some of his college classmates, in his words, ‘hit it out of the park very early on.” However, he remained focused on his own career. “It does keep you humbled, and it also just keeps you motivated. It was happening to people around me, so it could happen to me, too. It's possible.”
It’s happened in a big way, and Barrow is enjoying the journey. “It truly does feel like maybe the best Christmas gift,” Barrow says of his Broadway landing. “We (he and his parents) were talking about Christmas, and saying, ‘What do we want?’ And my parents said, ‘This is the gift. This is it.’”
For more information about Jordan Barrow and his career, visit www.jordan-barrow.com.