After rumours that Joe Jonas would replace Darren Criss in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (which features a score by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert) after Criss completes his stint at the start of next year, Playbill is reporting that Jonas’s younger brother, Nick, will take over the role instead. Jonas will play the role for 5 months, through July 2012.
Of course, comments about the actor’s youth making him an inappropriate choice for the role, similar to those made about Daniel Radcliffe, are already being made about Jonas’s casting. And I am going to respond the same way I did back then: the character is an ambitious, young window cleaner and the show is basically a coming of age story set in the world of business. What does the age of actors who have previously played the role have to do with it at all?
A different discussion could be held about whether its better for the role to be played older or younger, because obviously that changes the way the show plays, in the same way that a younger Roxie communicates different things in Chicago than an older Roxie does. But that’s a totally different discussion, because the way that this revival has chosen to cast the role is with a younger actor, rather than with an actor who is mutton dressed as lamb boyishly mugging his way through a role for which he is probably too old in the first place. If you want to question the concept, then question the concept – but this casting is very much in line with the concept that Rob Ashford has chosen to run with for his production.
Getting back to Jonas – the singer famous for being in the Jonas Brothers band has already appeared three times on Broadway, in children’s roles in Annie Get Your Gun, Beauty and the Beast and Les Misérables. More recently, he made his West End stage debut as Marius in Les Misérables and played Link Larkin in the Hollywood Bowl staging of Hairspray. It seems to me that this particular Jonas is trying to carve a niche for himself in musical theatre. It’s where he started out after all – so if not, why not?