He’s been called a beast and he’s been called Prince Charming. But for Jeremiah James, it’s all just part of his repertoire.
James, an actor with more than 60 professional theater credits under his belt, last hit the Ordway stage to play Beast in the theater’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Now, he’s returned for a similar, yet less hairy role.
James plays Prince Christopher in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella — a classic tale that’s perfect for the holiday season. So what does James think of his homecoming of sorts?
“It’s incredible, it’s just such a beautiful space, it’s so well run and they put on such top-notch performances,” he said. “They put on productions here that would rival any major production that would come through town. So to come back, the people, the atmosphere, it’s incredible. I love being here.”
Obviously, when people think of Cinderella they tend to think Disney. But James said this production, which was originally written for a TV special in the 1950s with Julie Andrews, has a slightly different feel and a few fun twists.
“The stepsisters are very comedic characters where they’re kind of the villains in the Disney show, so they’re our comic relief,” he said.
Performing in tights isn’t exactly what James thought he’d be doing for a career, but in a way he’s always had an interest for music — even if it wasn’t exactly clear.
“I always liked music, I really enjoyed learning music, but it was never my passion. I was like most guys, I played sports, was in boy scouts and that sort of thing,” he said.
“I was more about getting dirty, not wearing tights. … But after that first show, I just really fell in love with it. There’s no other feeling in the world than knowing that you’ve entertained an audience for an evening, made them forget about the broken garage door or the fact that they have to get that leak fixed. It’s a really wonderful feeling.”
Beyond playing princes, James is also working on an album due out in January. As a member of the group, Teatro, he’s enjoyed the successes of a group album and released his first solo album last year (while playing Beast in St. Paul). For his newest album, he’s teaming up with composer Jonathan Brielle to release a collection of new, original tunes.
“He’s a fantastic pop writer and we’re collaborating on this next record, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
Playing a prince, releasing an album … doesn’t it get to be too much? Not for James.
“It’s a difficult business to be in, so I just always feel very lucky and humbled by the fact that I’m asked to come back to a place like St. Paul and perform again at the Ordway,” he said. “It keeps me on my toes and it keeps me busy, but I’m very lucky to be as busy as I am.”
James said beyond coming back to St. Paul, he’s excited to be here at such a magical time of year. And even though Cinderella isn’t necessarily a holiday show, it’s enchanting enough to fit into the season.
“That idea of coming out of the cold, right before Christmas, and seeing a big, magical musical that doesn’t necessarily take place at Christmas but definitely sweeps you up into that same feeling, it’s great,” he said.
Cinderella runs through Jan. 1 at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul. For tickets or more information, click here.