Jay Armstrong Johnson is another one of our next generation performers on the rise! He made is Broadway debut in the Tony Award winning revival of "Hair" as well as on the First National Tour. Jay most recently starred in the Off-Broadway world premiere of "Wild Animals You Should Know" at MCC along side Alice Ripley and Patrick Breen. His other theatrical credits include Broadway's "Catch Me If You Can," First National Tour "A Chorus Line," and regional productions of "Pool Boy" (World premiere Barrington Stage), "Hairspray" (Weston Playhouse), "Godspell," and "West Side Story" (Casa Mañana). Jay has also participated in numerous workshops and readings such as “8” on Broadway (Spencer), "Hands on a Hardbody" (Greg), "Newsies" (Jack), "Giant" (Bobby Jr.), "Tío Pepe" (Jamie), "Tales of the City" (Mouse), "Dogfight" (Eddie Birdlace), "Bring It On" (Steven), and "Mrs. Sharp, Darling" (RSO). In addition to theatre, Jay has lit up both the film and television screens in "Sex & the City 2," "Law & Order SVU," and "The Apprentice."
Currently, Jay can be seen in the debut of Ryan Scott Oliver's "35MM" on March 7 and 12 at the Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn (16 Main Street, Brooklyn NY 11201) at 8pm (Doors open at 7pm). Tickets for March 7 and Tickets for March 12!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? When I was four years old, I have a very distinct memory of seeing Alladin doing back flips in a Disney on ice show in Dallas, and I realized those were actual people and not just cartoon characters.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? To be the most cliché actor ever, I wanna work with Meryl Streep. There, I said it.
3. What attracted you to "35MM"? The music. It is such an eclectic piece in its musical stylings, and to be able to transition from a folk ballad to a Cajun gospell chorus to a rock tune in one evening of theatre feels special.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope they come away with a new perspective on how they individually interpret art. What we are doing is confusing and poignant and scary and seemingly pretentious, but it's all inspired.
5. What do you identify most with "35MM" and in performing Ryan's music? I identify with the story telling. It is poetry at it's finest. The music is always incredible, but the words within the music are powerful and smart. Ryan makes it hard not to identify with each piece.
6. What's your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? The collaboration is my favorite part. Putting together any show is a nerve racking and strenuous process, but when you find the finished product you can't help but be thankful for the blood sweat and tears it took to get you there. I don't have a favorite place to rehearse per se, but a subway platform is a fantastic place to "rehearse". Sure, you're that guy, but at least you'll know your shit.
7. The two shows I have seen you in are "Hair" and "Wild Animals You Should Know." What did you enjoy most about being in these two shows? "Hair" will alway have a special place in my heart because it was my Broadway debut, but more than that, it felt like a movement more than a job. I felt part of something electric and magical and learned more about myself than at any other time in my life. "Wild Animals" felt like the antithesis to "HAIR" as I had to find the, for lack of a better word, evil part of myself to be able to do the best work I knew how. It helped that I was working with pros like Patrick Breen and Alice Ripley. I really learned a lot from them.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I have learned a lot about confidence. As long as I have done the work and prepared as much as I can, if I lead with confidence, I feel unstoppable.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? My very first professional show when i was 13 was "Peter Pan" starring Cathy Rigby playing the role of "John Darling," and Cathy told me to never read my reviews.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Uhhhh...I really don't know.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Late brunch, leisurely walk, jazz music while I spot clean the apt, favorite TV show or a good movie, cook an extravagant dinner, pass out.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Yoga.
13. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.
14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly.