Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
May 28, 2019
Today’s person: Jonathan David!
I don’t know J.D. well. We did exactly one show together, and he lives on the other side of the country from me.
But what a nice, fun, devout, serious and seriously funny, brave and brilliant actor and person.
When it was decided that CalShakes was going to remount Black Odyssey I was thrilled. And when we were asked if we would be interested in touring to the East Coast I was ecstatic. And when the East Coast part fell through I was disappointed. And when almost half the cast suddenly could not commit to what was now a short contract I was like “Oh, fuck...”
The first cast was so locked in I could not see how anyone could be replaced - especially Alphonse Nicholson. His Ulysses was a powerful, undeniable demand for justice and love, and I did not see how Eric Ting was going to find anyone that powerful for the role on short notice.
Clearly I did not know Jonathan.
Let me be clear: it’s not that he was better than Alphonse, it’s that he was different in an equally mind blowing way. I don’t want to compare these two actors in their portrayals of this Ulysses, but working with Jonathan showed how a great actor can take a role molded to someone else’s strengths and completely make it their own.
Jonathan stepped in at the last imaginable moment and kicked all the available asses with his dynamic intensity coupled with a truly tender, gentle soul. His journey from tragic heartbreak to heartfelt triumph was a tearful joy to watch each night. And - only a few people will know what this means - his meerkat will stay with me forever. Seriously, his meerkat impersonation is spot on.
I loved working with him, and hope against distance and the biz that I get to do so again.