By Manning Harris
Arriving at Midtown’s Gordon Biersch for brunch, I ask the host if an attractive young actor has arrived yet. Without any hesitation she said, “Oh, yes, he’s seated right over there!” She didn’t know Jordan Craig, but sensed correctly that he was someone special.
And there he is, smiling and glowing, and he has good reason to be: The 28-year-old actor-singer is currently wowing sellout audiences as Raoul at the Fox Theatre in the legendary “Phantom of the Opera,” playing there through March 5. (Read our review at this link.)
He’s been performing much of his life; first as a teenager in his hometown of Houston at their Grand Opera. He moved to Atlanta in 2011, and artistic director Richard Garner hired him as an intern at Georgia Shakespeare. Here Jordan (since I know him a bit, I’ll call him that, rather than Mr. Craig) appeared to start leading a charmed life. While playing some small parts in “Antony and Cleopatra” and other shows, he caught the attention of esteemed Atlanta actress Carolyn Cook, who knew he could both sing and act.
Ms. Cook called her friend Freddie Ashley, who was casting Actors Express’ now legendary production of “Spring Awakening” and said Mr. Ashley really must meet this young performer. Mr. Ashley met Jordan and immediately cast him as Melchior Gabor, the leading role. I don’t think I’ve seen a more auspicious debut in my long history of Atlanta theatregoing. The show was a smash; to this date my all-time favorite Express production.
There followed a series of outstanding Atlanta shows in which Jordan continued to hone his versatility: Alliance Theatre’s “Next to Normal” and “The Wizard of Oz,” Actors Express’ “Xanadu,” Atlanta Lyric’s “Legally Blonde,” and others. By 2012 Jordan had his Actors Equity card—the official union of actors in the U.S.
Jordan made the move to New York, got an agent, and was soon making the rounds, as they say, that every actor must do. We should mention that Jordan is tall and attractive, talented as a dramatic actor, and he possesses a powerful, beautiful tenor singing voice. Even with all these assets, New York is the real deal; competition is fierce, and an actor needs enormous energy, tenacity, and belief in oneself.
In January 2016, Jordan’s agent called him to audition for the national company of Broadway’s legendary, longest-running show, “The Phantom of the Opera.” Jordan says that during the audition process, a casting agent said, “You’ve never seen this show, have you?” Uh-oh. Jordan admitted he hadn’t and feared the worst. Raoul, you recall, is Christine’s childhood playmate, now her would-be lover—and the Phantom’s chief rival for her affections. It is one of the three leading parts.
But the Fates were kind; he was cast anyway, first as Raoul’s understudy, and in October 2016 he took over the part himself. You must understand: Being cast in a big national tour like this is huge for an actor. You’re in a Broadway show; you just happen to be traveling to major cities.
As a fan and friend of this winsome young man, it was quite thrilling last Friday night to hear Jordan and Katie Travis (who plays Christine and is sublimely talented) sing the beautiful duet “All I Ask of You” before a rapt, full house in the vast Fox. And in the heartbreaking closing scene, about which Jordan says “We’re witnessing the Phantom’s humanity and sensitivity,” yours truly was pretty much an emotional goner, as the three performers end the show.
People besiege the stage door to greet Jordan Craig. I think he’s got what Evita would call “just a little touch of star quality.” Go and see for yourself.