Jordan Shaw is a London-based actor and dancer whose musical theatre credits include Hadestown (National Theatre), It’s Only Life (Union), Follies (National Theatre) and Simba in The Lion King (International Tour). Currently playing Enjolras in Les Miserables I got to speak to him about the iconic show, the experience of West End Live and box jumps inspired by Fame the Musical!
What’s been the best part of being in Les Miserables so far?
The best part has been the opportunity to perform at West End Live, not only once but twice. It’s an awesome experience that we get to have as a cast because we all get to come together, dress up in our costumes and walk down to Trafalgar Square. You also get the opportunity to see other friends in other shows, and you feel like a bit of a rockstar performing to thousands of musical theatre fans.
Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
I think my favourite moment in the show is, funnily enough, the moment that I die. Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the show! For my character it’s really epic. I get to sing these really high notes, so it’s very exciting vocally for me. Once I’m shot I fall off the barricade onto a huge crash mat and then I’m wheeled around in a wheelbarrow. As far as a character’s death in a musical goes, I think it’s the most iconic one I’ve come across.
How do you put your own spin on an iconic role like Enjolras and make it feel personal?
The show has been running for almost 37 years now, so there’s big shoes that I’ve had to fill. The most important thing for me is to approach the character as a human. It’s easy to see Enjolras as a war lord who wants to revolt, but more importantly he’s human and has a heart. I just try to play him with sincerity. It’s written so beautifully that I don’t have to do too much to it, as long as I bring truth to the character.
Do you have a favourite character in Les Miserables, besides your own?
I think Javert is my favourite character besides Enjolras. I like quite dark and evil characters and I think Javert has the most iconic songs and lyrics. The great thing about Javert is that not only is he the villain of Les Miserables, but he has great intention and a good heart and drive, so from an audience point of view you can root for him in a way as you understand what his objective is. He also has the coolest costumes as well!
What has been your favourite role you have played generally and why?
I’d have to say Enjolras has been my favourite role I’ve played in my career. It’s been a role I’ve always wanted to play since I was a young teenager because I’ve been a massive fan of Les Miserables in itself. His songs, his moments, his costumes! I like where it sits in my voice, I like what I get to do with the role, and it’s a role within the show that is admired. There are not many roles that are admired from the other characters in the show, and I feel like I get to be a bit of a rockstar and a showman in a show that is usually considered quite dark.
How did you get into acting, and was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?
I got into acting from a very young age – I was always such a performer playing around with my friends in the playground. A friend of mine was going to a local drama school when I was around 6 years old, and I remember my mum asking if I wanted to go as well. That was it! That was where the hobby started, and I’ve never looked back. I loved it so much that it’s been a part of my life ever since. Once I got a bit older and had a clearer understanding of where I wanted to go in life, I remember my local drama school took us to see a production of Fame in the West End. I remember seeing Tyrone Jackson do a box jump and I was obsessed from that moment on. It was something I always wanted to do. I also became obsessed with box jumps and that was my party trick whenever I was doing dance numbers.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
Definitely meeting fans – meeting people that have been touched by the performance or by the show. I always like to take my time when coming out of the stage door because it reminds you never to take your job for granted. We do this show 8 times a week and it can feel like another day in the office, but when you come out and you speak to someone who may have saved a lot of money to come and see it, or has seen it a lot of times, or travelled from a different country, or perhaps your performance has inspired them to train in musical theatre, it’s always touching and humbling because it reminds you that what you’re doing is a really exciting and inspiring thing for a lot of people. Especially in a show like Les Miserables that is so emotionally driven, it can really be escapism for people that are going through tough times or remind them of a friend or a loved one. It all reminds me never to take this for granted.
Who are your influences and inspirations?
There’s not a lot of musical theatre artists that inspire me completely, I always like to take different things from different performers such as Audra McDonald – I will always rate her as an incredible performer. Truthfully, the people that inspire me are my family and my friends. I’m lucky to have such a great group of people that are supportive of my work and have seen me through it all since I was a young teen. Whenever I’m looking forward to new adventures, different jobs, or different roles, I always try to keep them in mind to just be the best performer that I can be. Also, my teachers that were training me from a young age and were passionate about me, I always try to remember how committed they were to make the best out of the time I had when training with them.
Is there a role you would love to play in a show?
Yes. I would love to play Jim Conley in Parade. I played this role when I was at the BRIT School. Vocally it was incredibly challenging, but I managed to get it out. However now where I am as a performer, I would love to revisit the role in a professional setting. That’s definitely a dream role of mine.
Where can people follow your work on social media?
Book now to see Jordan in Les Miserables online.