“I like kitschy musicals,” Broadway up-and-comer Jake Boyd says. We’re in the midst of discussing what show he’d be in if he had the opportunity, and it’s a question that actually stumps him for a minute. “I’ve always wanted to be Bobby Strong in Urinetown. I also really love Xanadu.” I caught up with Boyd at what could be described as the beginning of a new chapter for him, fresh off an almost year long run with the national tour of Wicked where he played Fiyero. “It was definitely one of those bittersweet moments,” he said of leaving the production. “It was time for me to go. It was one of the most wonderful experiences, one of the things I really love about theatre is that you create this other family, and they don’t last forever, but that’s why the experience is so special.”
For Boyd, the journey to the stages of Broadway and his love for theatre has pretty much been a lifelong one. “I was in 5th grade and my parents put me in sports and stuff, and it was fine. I didn’t love it. I actually really didn’t like it at all, but there weren’t any extracurriculars that I kinda took to. In Tuscaloosa (where he grew up) there is a children’s theatre company called Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and the elementary schools would go see the shows on field trips. I saw Snoopy: The Musical there and from the moment I watched that show I was just like ‘I want to do that.’ I didn’t make the first couple I auditioned for, but I finally got into one and… I’ve kinda never done anything else. Theatre gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging, and I got to be around the weirdo’s who were just as weird as me. And now it’s grown into many other phases and meanings over time, but it’s part of my identity.”
He graduated from the University of Alabama’s Department of Theatre and Dance in 2010 and wasted no time getting to work. He had a recurring role on the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet? along with guest appearances on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, where he played young Jack Donaghy. He was also the understudy for Rolf and part of the chorus for NBC’s hit The Sound of Music: Live!, and was a part of the casts for the musicals The Last Smoker In America, and Carrie before landing his biggest role yet as Fiyero in Wicked. And while he states that he loves all mediums of acting, it was obvious when I caught a performance of Wicked that the stage is where he belongs and where he thrives the most. “What I think makes theatre special is if you have actors that are capable of giving honest performances. I think it’s special to look at it like, there’s people in front of you right now, in the moment, telling this story, and hopefully taking you on a journey and being invested in it. It’s an art form that’s existing and happening right in the now.”
One of the biggest things I took away from our conversation is the pure excitement he has about what he does and what’s to come. In a business where you hear “no” more than “yes” it’s hard to find someone who continues to have a legitimate love about what they’re pursuing, but he does. “You have to be very tenacious, and I’m not saying being a diva or anything like that. You have to be gracious and good to work with, but there’s also this unapologeticness in yourself that you have to have. It can be really tough when you’ve been told ‘no’ 200 times in a row and you’re working in a crappy restaurant and things are looking a little bleak. But also the amazing thing about this business is that your life can change overnight. Anyone can have it if you’re willing to work hard.” This is not just a job for him, it’s something he can’t stay away from. He believes in the dream and why shouldn’t he? It’s worked for him. Maybe we should all take a page from his book.