In a review last Sunday of “Wicked,” at First Interstate Center for the Arts through March 27, Carolyn Lamberson of The Spokesman-Review said the following of actor Jordan Litz, who portrays the dashing Fiyero:
“As Fiyero, Jordan Litz is completely charming. His character starts off as a shallow playboy, but he soon finds himself drawn to Elphaba’s cause. His duet with (Talia) Suskauer in ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ is sublime.”
Lamberson also described Litz as handsome. Litz is charming and handsome, and after an interview with him Wednesday morning, other attributes to describe him include passionate, well-spoken and in love with his wife, Julie, and musical theater.
Litz talked about portraying Fiyero, life on the road with “Wicked” – a show with extended runs vs. one weekend only – and how he transitioned from a collegiate swimmer in California (he was a national college champion) to musical theater.
How long have you performed the role of Fiyero in “Wicked”?
I took over for Curt Hansen, our previous Fiyero, during his paternity leave. He and his wife became pregnant during the pandemic. I took over for him for about six weeks. He came back for a month and finished his contract, then I took over for him permanently in November. So, maybe about six months in total.
What has been the most challenging aspect in portraying Fiyero for you?
He’s what we call the princess track because he gets all the glory, and he only sings two songs. I shouldn’t say only because he’s a very big part of the show. He’s the third most important character. He’s a blast – he’s so easy. I just get to go onstage and play with the girls and play with the wizard.
I would say the biggest thing is to just be on every single night. You can’t have an off night in this principal role. I was in the ensemble for about two months before they bumped me up to Fiyero. If I had an off night in the ensemble, it wasn’t the biggest deal or super obvious.
As a principal, I have to come in fully warmed up and fully prepared every single day; otherwise, it’s obvious.
You touched on this, but please elaborate: What is the best thing about portraying Fiyero?
He gets all the glory and the witches. Just working with those girls, and we’re about to have a changeover to new witches actually next week, and just watching them work is unbelievable. As far as what I get to do day to day, “Dancing Through Life” is just a blast to do.
I was terrified of it when I first started because I have zero dance training. When I first saw the show six or seven years ago, I immediately thought, “Well, Fiyero is a role I’ll never play because I can’t dance.”
I went in for an audition one day, and I guess I was athletic enough to pick up the movement and make it look like I knew what I was doing because I fooled them enough to give me the job. When I joined the tour, I was terrified of it, but we have amazing dance captains and choreographers who mold you and shape you into a fake dancer, which is great.
You hit on this, as well, but is “Dancing Through Life” your favorite song or scene to perform in “Wicked”?
I think so. There are some scenes where I’m just acting, there’s no singing, and those are really, really fun. I love the lion cub scene between Elphaba and Fiyero. It’s the first time someone sees him as more than just the hot quarterback, the captain of the football team kind of character.
She sees through him and what he actually is. It’s really fun, and there’s a big shift in the dynamic of those two characters in that scene. But, yes, “Dancing Through Life” is a blast. You are shot out of a cannon the moment you step off that cart.
You said there are new actresses coming in next week. Is it a challenge to work with new actresses?
I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge. I would say it’s a blast because they come in and bring new takes on the roles. You get so set in your ways with a certain cast and a certain rhythm that they give you that when a new person comes in and they say even one word differently, it shakes up how you deliver your lines and what you’re feeling. It’s not a challenge; it’s fun, and it’s a good time.
How did you transition from being a collegiate swimmer to musical theater?
I went to the Olympic Trials in 2012. I had dreams of being an Olympian and competing on the world stage. I did not make the Olympic team, so I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life. I had sung my entire life, and both my parents were music majors in college. I sang a lot of barbershop quartet music.
It was something that I knew I was good at but had never really honed. I went back to school (at Fresno Christian University) and switched to vocal performance with the intention of working in a studio setting or behind a microphone doing backup vocals. In my last semester at college, I had to do a musical as part of my curriculum, and I fell in love with it.
I played the Captain in “The Sound of Music,” and it was one of those life-changing moments where I thought, “Wow, this is something I want to do. I love it!” I did a bunch of regional productions after that just to get a sense of if I had a knack for it and it was something I could do professionally, and it worked out.
How long have you been performing?
That musical was spring of 2015, so I’ve been doing musical theater for about seven years.
What have been some of your favorite roles in your career?
I loved Eddie Birdlace in “Dogfight: The Musical” – that was a great one. I think Tony in “West Side Story” was the role that really made me realize that I can do this and wanted to be on Broadway and go to New York. It is my favorite musical of all time. I think the story is incredible. I think the music is even more beautiful.
And all the things I did at Disney World. I loved my time at Disney World. I sang in the Voices of Liberty, which is an a cappella group. I sang in the Dapper Dans. I played Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast.” … I met my wife there. Disney World was a life-changing experience for me. It was the first place I really felt at home and had a family of performers.
Have you seen Steven Spielberg’s new “West Side Story”?
Oh, yeah, definitely. I saw it once on my own, and then I took my wife, Julie, back to see it because I knew that she would love it. It is incredible – it is fantastic. … I thought it was beautiful. The characters are incredible. Mike Faist as Riff was just mind-blowing.
How is the run at First Interstate Center for the Arts in Spokane going?
It’s great! The crowds are smaller but mighty. They seem to be appreciative of having Broadway-caliber shows back in Spokane. I can’t remember how many shows have played here since the pandemic, but I feel like we’re one of the first big ones to come back, and you can definitely feel that in the audience, which is very cool.
This is a three-week run. How does a three-week run compare to a one-weekend run?
“Wicked” is fortunately one of those shows where we don’t have one-weekend runs, so three weeks is actually the shortest that we’ll do. We were just in Costa Mesa (Calif.) for four weeks. We’re about to head to Sacramento for four weeks. Later in the summer, we’ll be in Chicago for eight weeks and Boston for 10 and D.C. for seven.
That’s the great thing about “Wicked.” You sit down in the cities for so long, you get to feel like you actually live there for a while. When we opened the show, I think we were in Dallas for 10 weeks.
By the end of that run, it felt like I had lived in Texas my whole life. We had our grocery store and restaurants and gyms. It’s a great feeling to settle down for a while and actually enjoy the cities.
Do you have much free time while on tour? What do you do in your time off while on tour?
It depends. We haven’t had a lot of free time here in Spokane because we have six new principals coming in, so we’ve had a lot of rehearsals during the day trying to get them up and ready. But when we do have time, Julie and I love to explore the cities.
About a month ago when we were in Tucson, we were out in a beautiful desert-type area and went horseback riding through the Saguaro National Park. We’re planning to go on a bike ride up to Bowl & Pitcher and enjoy the Centennial Trail and the river. We love getting outside and experiencing the cities – and definitely the food.
Julie travels with you, or is she in the cast of “Wicked,” too?
Julie travels with me. She was a Disney princess for 11 years, and that’s how we met. When we moved to New York, being on Broadway was never her dream. She has a marketing degree and got back into that world. During the pandemic, she got a job working remotely full time.
We thought, “Why not just come out on tour with me? We’ll buy a car, pack it up and drive the tour together.” So, we got our little puppy, packed her up, and now we drive the tour together while she works full time.
Is there a role that you have yet to perform that is on your wish list?
I love the musical “The Last Five Years.” Jamie in “The Last Five Years” would be an absolute dream role. It’s my second-favorite musical after “West Side Story,” but people just don’t do it very often because it’s a two-person show, so there’s not a lot of call for it, and it would be done Off-Broadway.
It’s just too small, but it’s an incredible show, and the music is unbelievable. As far as Broadway shows go, I think someday it would be really cool to play the Phantom. It’s one of those musicals everyone grows up listening to, and he has some of the most beautiful music.
And on top of that, I’d just like to originate a role at some point. A role that’s never been done, that hasn’t been written yet. I could be the first. I’d like to be the first.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Come out and support Broadway! We need you as much as you need us right now. We would love to have you in the audience.
Don Chareunsy can be reached at (509) 459-5446 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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