Photo provided by Matthew Murphy/Phantom of the Opera Co.Jordan Donica in Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
Photo provided by Matthew Murphy/Phantom of the Opera Co.

Jordan Donica in Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera.”

Anybody who's following Noblesville's Jordan Donica knows that he is quickly impressing the people in the Big Apple.

Last spring, I wrote about how Donica was making his Broadway debut last June, joining the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest-running Broadway show, celebrating 29 years this month.

Not even a year has gone by, and Donica has done it again, capturing a major role in the first national tour of "Hamilton," premiering in March on the West Coast. He will play and sing the principal roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.

"Hamilton" is based on Ron Chernow's biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. The musical is the story of America then, told by America now, and blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway.

"The hard part of this role is the fast rap, or what's called 'chopper' or 'chopping-in rap," said Donica, a 22-year-old Otterbein University grad.

Donica will play the French revolutionary, Lafayette, "as he is relatively new to the Colonies." And in the second act, he will play Jefferson "as he comes back from his diplomatic trip to France to help the French write their Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen."

He has been singing the show's songs ever since he saw "Hamilton" on Broadway a year ago. He even envisioned himself playing Jefferson, a role that he "could easily connect."

The 6-foot-4-inch baritone/tenor, who sings, acts and dances tap, modern and jazz said he hasn't forgotten his roots. Especially his "favorite voice teacher."

"I do have to give a special shout out to Elaine Wagner and her husband Larry. Elaine was my voice coach from the time I was 11 or 12 and continued to see her every week (sometimes three hours a night, twice a week), every year, until I left for college, when I was 18. Even still, when I'm in town, I like to stop in for a lesson...."

He said, "Without her foundations in voice and music, I would not be where I am today....Her love and passion and commitment is something that I carry forward with me in my everyday life."

Wagner remembers the first time she saw Donica at The Belfry Theatre in "Here's Love" in 2006.

"There he was, on stage, a middle-school boy, holding his own, singing harmony with three or so grown men," she said. "I had to look twice to see if he really was 'just a boy.'"

She was impressed then as she has been many times since seeing him in The Belfry's production of "The Fantastiks" and "Phantom of the Country Opera," the latter for which she was show director. She's also watched him in the theater's Apprentice Players production, "Disco Inferno," directed by Connie Murello-Todd and for which he earned Encore Association's Rising Star award. He was also Romeo in Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission's Shakespeare in the Park.

Wagner said Donica was a model voice student. "He had the phenomenal ability to grasp the feeling of the music almost immediately....He always worked hard and was prepared for his lessons." She attended many of his performances, including his opening night on Broadway last June, and she hopes to get to the West coast to see him in "Hamilton."

Performances of "Hamilton" begin March 10 at the 90-year-old SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, where the tour will play 22 weeks, followed by a 21-week engagement in Los Angeles.

Donica, who is "definitely feeling blessed," also gives a shout out to his theater friends in Hamilton County. "Everyone that I've met and worked with in Noblesville has helped me to get to where I am today," he said. "From doing shows at The Belfry to (Noblesville) Shakespeare in the Park, every person and every show holds a special place in my heart."

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