Where do you start to try and tell the story of Jake?
You could go with the mundane. He is a Texan. He grew up outside Dallas. He loves barbeque, and can’t wait to taste the Kansas version. He found his way to the performer he is through community theatre, working the technical side in sound, scene design, and carpentry. He started classical music lessons when he was 18, went to Juilliard at 23, and now the baritone actor is 25 and moves to the next thing by simply saying, “Yes.”
That yes is taking him on the road to Kansas with the American Fusion Project: Into the Sun. His baritone voice is the thread that ties the varied elements of the performance together.
He’s also a guy that is grounded by fly fishing and his family. He has a Momma and a Nana that let him know when he gets a bit full of himself. His favorite fishing hole is where his grandpa taught him to fly fish in Arkansas.
Jake understands what puzzles the rest of us. He said grounding is essential because when you act, you explore the minds of characters like murderers or bankers. That exploration can make you lose yourself, as we saw with Heath Ledger when he portrayed the Joker.
He says the reason the crew is capable of a laterally creative project like Into the Sun is because they respect each other. They’ve all worked very hard to get where they are, and when someone offers an idea or suggestion, everyone listens.
Here are his words about the project:
Besides trout fishing, furthering the expression of words and music is my favorite way to spend my time. Over the last 13 years, I’ve been consistently working in the theatre: as performer, sound technician, in scenic design/carpentry and as a technical director. I’ve never stopped loving the art of bringing stories to an audience. STORIES ARE WHAT BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.
This project is special because of its originality and perspective brought by such a powerhouse of a team. The text we’re presenting by, my man, Frank O’Hara is genius on so many levels. He keeps it casual while explaining such a grand scene: the way I try to live my life –“Fly Casual” – Hans Solo (The Return of the Jedi). Bringing my love of story telling and text to schools is what I’m most excited about. It’s always an honor to share my experience as an artist with students who are openly learning about themselves and their passions.
The tour starts in Garden City on Tuesday, September 2, at the Garden City High School, continues in Lawrence on Thursday, September 4, and ending on Saturday, September 6, in Kansas City.
More about the project, the tour, and the performers can be found online at Arts Fusion Initiative.