Jordan Donica was quite sure as a 9-year-old that one day he would land a role in Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera”; he just didn’t imagine it happening as soon as he graduated from Otterbein University in May.
Donica stars as Raoul at the Great White Way’s Majestic Theatre, which is hosting Broadway’s longest-running production.
“It’s a great show; it is my favorite show of all time,” Donica said during a telephone interview from New York City. “Opening week was incredible. My family and many of my friends have already seen the show, which he debuted in June 13.
“It’s hard to say when I developed an interest in theater. Singing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was always singing as a youth. My mom took me to see ‘Fiddler on the Roof” when I was 3 because she was a single parent and couldn’t find a baby sitter. I can remember some specific scenes.”
Donica, a 2012 graduate of Roncalli, recalls his first singing role as a member of “The Singing Christmas Tree” in a pageant in Tennessee when he was 5 and his first semiprofessional production as a member of the children’s chorus in “Joseph and the Amazing Color Dreamcoat” when he was 8; his first acting role was in “The Confessional” at the Fountain Square Theatre a year later.
He was born in Minnesota and made it to Indianapolis via Chicago and Tennessee. He was raised in Lawrence Township but attended Roncalli because of the opportunities it presented. “The school encouraged me to do anything that I wanted. Everyone was so supportive,” he said.
Donica, who is 6 foot 4, played football as a freshman but admits that he was pretty terrible. “I wanted to play basketball too, but I couldn’t do it and theater. I decided to focus on theater and do at least one show a year.”
Through a great deal of effort he became a good wide receiver and was named Academic All-State. “I was not a naturally gifted athlete; I had to work really hard to get to where I wanted to be physically and athletically,” said Donica, who didn’t decide on attending Otterbein, a liberal arts school in Westerville, Ohio, until sitting in on an acting class there. “It reminded me a little of Roncalli.”
It was at Otterbein and through regional productions that Donica’s acting and singing abilities blossomed. He landed roles in “South Pacific” and “The Greenshow” at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, Ohio, and “Romeo and Juliet” at Noblesville Shakespeare in the Park, for which he was presented the Indianapolis MITTY Award for Best Actor in a leading role.
Had it not been for a trio of friends who coaxed him into auditioning for the Utah festival, Donica might not be on Broadway today.
After pinching a sciatic nerve and throwing out his back in dance class, he wasn’t prepared to audition as he could barely walk. “But my friends stayed up with me to help me memorize my material. The next morning they came over and helped me get dressed. They drove me to the audition and helped get me into the room. I did the audition putting all of my weight onto one leg as the other couldn’t support weight.”
It was in Utah that he became acquainted with the Talent House and one of its agents, who later arranged him various auditions, including one for “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“So, without those three friends to encourage me to ‘not throw away my shot’ as the famous line in ‘Hamilton’ goes, I probably would not be where I am today,” he said.
Equally adept at singing, dancing and acting, Donica said he’s best at whatever he needs to be for any particular job.
“I’m up for anything. I would like to try TV and film, and directing sounds like fun. I just want to tell a good story.”