Texas State alumnus prepares for Broadway debut

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Texas State alumnus prepares for Broadway debut

Jorrel Javier (center) performing as Grover during the national tour of The Lightning Thief. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Jorrel Javier

Jorrel Javier (center) performing as Grover during the national tour of The Lightning Thief. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Jorrel Javier

Jorrel Javier (center) performing as Grover during the national tour of The Lightning Thief. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Jorrel Javier

Jorrel Javier (center) performing as Grover during the national tour of The Lightning Thief. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Jorrel Javier

Brianna Benitez

A passion for performing and a desire to leave an impact on the theatre industry has manifested an opportunity for Texas State alumnus Jorrel Javier to showcase his talents on the Broadway stage.

Javier graduated May 2018 from Texas State’s Department of Theatre and Dance. As a student, Javier performed in several productions including “A Chorus Line,” “Legally Blonde” and “Evita.”

Beginning September 2019, Javier will be performing as a lead in new Broadway production “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.” The show is a musical adaptation of the adventure-driven fantasy novel by Rick Riordan.

Javier said he fell in love with the Percy Jackson series in sixth grade after he was introduced to the books as part of a summer reading project.

“I found solace in these characters and my place within these books,” Javier said. “They’re the only reason I survived middle school.”

The performance centers around teenage demi-god Percy Jackson. In the show, Percy Jackson is sent to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demi-gods. At the camp, he meets Annabeth, daughter of Athena; Grover, a friendly satyr, and Mr. D, the camp’s director who is meant to resemble Dionysus, the Greek god of madness and wine.

For the majority of the show, Javier will play Grover, Percy Jackson’s best friend and sidekick. He said Grover serves as the comedic relief throughout the musical.

“He is an excitedly loyal character who will do anything to protect those he loves,” Javier said.

Additionally, Javier will play Mr. D, a character cursed by Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and lightning.

Javier has played the role of Grover and Mr. D since January 2019 when the production began its national tour. Javier and his castmates performed over 70 shows in 20 cities across the U.S.

As Javier prepares for his Broadway debut, he is most excited to be a part of such a diverse cast. Javier said the cast consists of 10 members, half of which are people of color.

“Growing up, I didn’t see myself on stage,” Javier said. “When I graduated college I made a pact with myself to encourage young people of color and let them know there is a place for them in this industry.”

Javier discovered his passion for musical theatre at a young age. His first performance was in fourth grade for a small production written by his elementary school teachers. Javier said his past educators are the reason he was able to break into the community of educational theatre.

“(My teachers) were my saving grace,” Javier said. “They helped me get in touch with people who were willing to give me scholarships and donors who were willing to sponsor me in shows.”

In addition to being encouraged by his educators, Javier said he was motivated to pursue a career in theatre because it was a place where he felt accepted.

“There isn’t another place or profession I would want to be in,” Javier said. “If this is how home feels, I don’t want to leave.”

During his freshman year, Javier lived in Laurel Hall and was a part of the Honors College Living-Learning Community. At the time, Michael Burns, professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Honors College, was the faculty in residence at Laurel Hall.

Javier said Burns served as his guide and rock during his time at Texas State.

When Javier attended Texas State, his family lived in California. Burns said when Javier’s family was unable to make it to town, he would attend in their place and support Javier in any way he could.

“I have always joked Jorrel was more of a son to me,” Burns said. “I’ve been there cheering him on.”

Javier auditioned for Texas State’s Musical Theatre program his senior year of high school. Kaitlin Hopkins, head of Texas State’s Musical Theatre program, said she distinctively remembers Javier’s performance.

Hopkins said Javier was one of 700 students that auditioned and became one of 14 accepted. The musical theatre head said Javier’s success has been a motivation to past and current students in the program.

“(Javier) has always gone above and beyond,” Hopkins said. “His commitment and artistic work has been very inspiring to other students.”

Ana Yi Puig, musical theatre senior, said Javier served as a mentor and guide to her while he attended Texas State. The two bonded over the fact they were two of the few Asian students in the program.

When it came to auditioning for roles, Yi Puig said Javier constantly encouraged her to go for roles outside of her comfort zones, even if she did not match the character’s appearance or description.

Yi Puig said Javier is a creative and brave performer and it feels surreal to know her peer will soon make his Broadway debut.

“It’s not like he’s going into an already established show,” Yi Puig said. “He gets to originate something and that is really cool.”

“The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” will run Sept. 20, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020 at the Longacre Theatre located at 220 West 48th St. in Midtown Manhattan. Tickets are available online.

For more information about Javier, visit his jorreljavier.com.

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