It was five years ago when, at the ripe old age of 24, Jonathan Root and his wife, Holly, moved from Nashville, Tennessee to New York. In less than a year the couple made their presence known in the prestigious arts and cultural community, with Jonathan as actor-singer-voice talent-writer and Holly as literary agent. Now deeply rooted in that community they both continue to flourish.
Holly worked her way through the William Morris Agency’s agent trainee program. She then moved to Trident Media Group and is now firmly established and revered as a member of the Waxman Literary Agency.
Makes It On Broadway
In those few years Jonathan has secured roles in the Broadway and Las Vegas productions of Avenue Q. He was an audience favorite as Camille in Tony-nominated director Gary Griffin’s production of A Flea in Her Ear at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. His regional production credits include roles in Les Miserables, Romeo and Juliet, Treasure Island, American Duet, and Waiting for Godot.
Jonathan recently assumed the role of “White Dude” in the new campy, high-energy Off-Broadway musical The Toxic Avenger, at New World Stages in New York.
I met Jonathan through something called the Nickel and Dime Theatre. It was a backyard theatre showcase-workshop festival of short plays pulled together by some of Nashville’s finest in the theatre community. He is 100 percent pure talent, energy, drive, and focus. His passion and love for the gifts he has to share truly inspires his audience.
Sound Advice And Encouragement
Jonathan’s answers to the following five questions paint a powerful picture of dedication, hard work, and sound advice for those who seek to make their creative mark in the world.
SSO: What are the key breaks in your time so far in NY?
Root: The biggest “break” was getting an agent my first week in the City. I auditioned for a show and the casting director asked me if I had an agent. I said no and so she said she’d “make some calls for me”. The next morning I met with what would become my first agents and by that afternoon was signed with them. My first audition was for the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles, and I went to the very final round of callbacks for the role of Jean Michel. Even though I didn’t book it, it showed my agents that I was an immediate Broadway contender. After that, I auditioned for the Vegas production of Avenue Q, which I ended up booking. Just shy of ten months, the production in Vegas closed and I was offered a role in the Broadway company. That was “break” number 2. My personal feeling is that everyone who has talent and comes to the City gets the same number of “breaks”. But what separates people who are lucky from the people who are committed to their career is all the pavement-pounding you do in between those “breaks”. Lots of people who come to New York dreaming of being on Broadway are talented, but being magically “discovered” on talent alone is a fairy tale. A “break” can never replace hard work.
SSO: What are some things you do to hone your craft as an actor, singer and voice talent?
Root: An hour of voice lessons/vocal coaching every week is a must for anyone attempting to do eight shows a week on the Broadway schedule. Bad singing habits develop quickly on this schedule and rapidly lead to serious and/or long-term vocal problems. Most Broadway performers are in weekly voice lessons for maintenance, if nothing else. As an actor, doing readings of new plays or musicals for writers or taking classes with your peers can help you keep the creative muscle in shape so you don’t become locked in to the acting style of whatever show you’re in at night. It’s also important to just see other shows when you can. Go watch other actors succeed on stage and be inspired by them.
SSO: What advice do you have for singers on warming up?
Root: Keep it light, don’t push, and (on an eight-show schedule) warm up just enough to make sure the vocal range of the show is there.
SSO: What are two or three do’s and two or three don’ts for a singer, voice talent?
Do: Drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, challenge yourself musically, and find the things that make your voice unique.
Don’t: Smoke, go to loud places where you’ll be tempted to talk over the noise (most singers fatigue their voices by talking, not singing), and don’t ever sing if your actual vocal chords hurt. Pain on the chords themselves means you’ve done damage to them and further use will only worsen it.
SSO: What has your time in NY done to focus you and help you grow and change your career perspective?
Root: In short, I’m a different person than I was five years ago when I moved to New York. Sifting my career perspective from the radical changes in my life perspective would be difficult. My view of my career has always been to constantly challenge myself and never feel like I’m standing still or (God forbid) going backward. That view hasn’t changed in five years. But how I view my career in relation to the world I now live in is completely different. There’s a sense to New York that as hard as it is to live here and as much as little things constantly conspire to crush your spirit or drive you insane, anything is still possible. And that’s what drives my life as well as my career. If it’s possible, I’m gonna do it.
For More Information on Jonathan Root visit www.jonathan-root.com Check out Holly Root at www.waxmanagency.com/about_bios.html Also visit www.thetoxicavengermusical.com for more details on Jonathan’s current venture.