WORDS: LAURA JONES
IMAGES COURTESY OF: PIETER TOERIEN PRODUCTIONS AND JONATHAN ROXMOUTH SOURCE: JONATHAN ROXMOUTH
After watching a couple of outstanding West End productions in London, in 2010 I watched Grease, starring Jonathan Roxmouth, at Johannesburg’s Teatro in Montecasino. His live performance was riveting, unforgettable. His stage persona, compelling. World-class. Gobsmacked, and smitten with a new theatre hero, our media group took note, scrambling to find out more about Jonathan. Grease played to packed theatres, touring Cape Town, Johannesburg, New Zealand and Hong Kong. For his performance Jonathan earned his second Naledi Theatre Award nomination for Best Performance in a Musical. He has since commanded the stage with one hit performance after another, which got me thinking, how does one define star quality?
Much like audiences’ approach to screen actors, we’ll fork out to watch a movie with a long-serving, stellar cast. Think Tom Cruise starting out in Risky Business, and Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore in Ozark (and then Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna, now set to play Madonna in an upcoming biopic). Then there’s Miles Teller in Whiplash, and his recent performance in Top Gun: Maverick. Audiences will pay top dollar for extraordinary talent. And so it is with Jonathan Roxmouth. Starring in more than 30 shows year-on-year since his professional debut in the Barnyard Theatre’s production of Grease (Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel) in 2006, his performances are most often sell-outs.
Since playing the bespectacled financial advisor in Sanlam’s series of baby adverts Jonathan has never looked back. He gained cumulative experience as a teenager, participating in a number of musicals staged by Nick Jourdan at the Natal Playhouse while attending school. These included Guys and Dolls (Nicely- Nicely Johnson), Oklahoma! (Ali Hakim), The Mikado (Pooh-Bah), Me and My Girl (Bill Snibson) and The Pirates of Penzance (The Pirate King).
Jonathan believes these years were undoubtedly the most formative of his theatrical training. Further productions followed thereafter: Rock Me, Amadeus (W.A. Mozart) and The Buddy Holly Story (Buddy Holly) were both directed by Ian von Memerty – a meeting that would positively affect the course of Jonathan’s young career. Big musicals finally followed and he played Lun Tha in Packed House Productions’ The King and I.