Jonathan started his career many years ago as the bespectacled Financial Advisor in Sanlam’s series of Baby Adverts. The performing bug bit and he has never looked back. He gained the bulk of his “training” by participating in a number of musicals staged by Nick Jourdan at the Natal Playhouse whilst at Northcliff High 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). It cannot be overstated how formative these five years were. He made his professional debut in 2006 in the Barnyard Theatre’s production of GREASE (Vince Fontaine/Teen Angel). He followed that up with ROCK ME, AMADEUS (W.A. Mozart) and THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (Buddy Holly) – all directed by Ian von Memerty – a meeting that would affect the course of his young career. The big musicals finally beckoned and he played Lun Tha in Packed House Productions’ THE KING AND I.
What followed was an undisputed milestone for him. He joined Roelof Colyn in the evergreen A HANDFUL OF KEYS – directed by Ian von Memerty and enjoyed a massive success. The show received a breath of fresh air with the new partnership and it toured nationally three times over. It garnered him a Naledi Nomination for Best Performance in a Breakthrough Role as well as a Fleur Du Cap Award Nomination for Best Performance in a Cabaret or Revue.
In the same year, he earned his first two Naledi Theatre Awards for Best Performance in a Musical, Best Comedy Performance (shared with Sibu Radebe) and the Fleur Du Cap Award for Best Performance in a Musical for his portrayal of Gaston in Pieter Toerien and Hazel Feldman’s production of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. He was then cast as the narrating silver tabby Munkustrap in Pieter Toerien’s revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic CATS. He still apologises to audiences past and present for the amount of lycra.
Later that year, he went solo with his first one-man show, IN BLACK & WHITE, to critical acclaim before returning to GREASE – this time as Danny Zuko in Pieter Toerien and David Ian’s smash-hit production which toured to Cape Town, Johannesburg, New Zealand and Hong Kong. For this, he earned a second Naledi Theatre Award nomination for Best Performance in a Musical. Before commencing the international legs of the tour, Jonathan teamed up with Alan Swerdlow to write HATS OFF! – The Hilarious Songbook of Flanders & Swann, which he performed with the inimitable Louis Zurnamer. For this, he received his second Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award Nomination.
In what was a challenging shift, he played the role of Judas Iscariot in Pieter Toerien’s production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. His interpretation of the role earned him the Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Then came his big break – Pieter Toerien and The Really Useful Group’s record-breaking return production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA…Jonathan played the Phantom himself and was catapulted into a new phase of his career. He garnered the Fleur Du Cap and Naledi Theatre Awards for Best Performance in a Musical as well as the Artes Legends Award. He then toured with the production to the Far East making history as the youngest English-speaking Phantom yet and winning the Philippines Broadway World Award for his performance.
He then performed his one-man show, TOPSY TURVY – A Fresh Look at Gilbert & Sullivan in Johannesburg and Cape Town, having premiered it in Durban originally at the Rhumbelow Theatre, enjoying both great box office, critical acclaim as well as a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nomination for (hilariously) Best Performance in a Musical (sic). He was then seen as Noël Coward in Sheridan Morley’s NOËL & GERTIE for which he was nominated for a Naledi Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical. It was not a great year in terms of (theatrical) judgemental accuracy.
His first turn in a Pieter Toerien “bonsai” musical was as Joe Gillis in SUNSET BOULEVARD. He then released his first Musical Theatre album, STAGE BY STAGE before embarking on his first original ‘concert biography’, CALL ME LEE, about the life of flamboyant pianist and entertainer Liberace (written with Ian von Memerty). For this he won the Naledi Theatre Award for Best Actor (shared with Brendan van Rhyn) and went on to join the 20th Anniversary tour of A HANDFUL OF KEYS – partnering up with Roelof Colyn and Ian von Memerty for various performances around the country in what turned out to be his final time behind the legendary ‘Keys’. It was time for something a little different: his first play was the screwball comedy JEEVES & WOOSTER in Perfect Nonsense where he played the lovable fool Bertie Wooster in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. He then remounted a production of STAGE by STAGE, which received rave reviews and capacity houses in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Jonathan then got to sing with an enormous orchestra as Tony in The Fugard Theatre’s production of WEST SIDE STORY at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town. For this, he was nominated for the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical – which he lost, but at least he didn’t have to share. He followed that up with STAGE by STAGE “2” due to genuine public demand and had a ball.
Jonathan made history as the first local artist to headline a series of Broadway Concerts at the Teatro at Montecasino with JONATHAN ROXMOUTH FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS at the Teatro at Montecasino in September 2015 for three nights only – garnering praise and kudos from press, professionals and public alike. He was then seen as The Demon Barber of Street in Pieter Toerien and KickstArt’s production of SWEENEY TODD and earned the Naledi Theatre Award, BroadwayWorld Award and a Fleur du Cap Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He then played famously unknown composer Marvin Hamlisch in I’M PLAYING YOUR SONG – a new musical based on the life of the prolific American composer which he co-wrote with Alan Swerdlow and earned another two Naledi and Fleur du Cap Best Actor in a Musical nominations.
He is the first Musical Theatre endorsee for YAMAHA’s range of Grand Pianos – in particular the model GC2 and he was voted one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 South Africans in 2016.
Inbetween all the seriousness, he managed to have an absolute blast playing the Elvis-esque Pharaoh in Pieter Toerien’s enormously successful revival of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, scooping BroadwayWorld and Fleur du Cap Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical. The production toured SA twice over and also went to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand. At the same time he released “My Lloyd Webber” – a collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. He returned home to the Teatro for 5 sold out concerts with THE MUSICALS. He joined Weslee Swain Lauder in VR Theatrical’s production of the hilarious quickchange farce, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP as Jane Twisden, Lord Edgar and a few other surprises. He then ditched the false breasts and donned revolutionary beret as Che in Pieter Toerien and David Ian’s international production of EVITA touring the Far East. This year, he closed the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town for renovations with his original revue LENNY ANDREW STEVE and ME – an evening of the music and lyrics of Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim.
In what was the single most difficult three months of his career, he donned a leopard print jacket and set the theatre and piano alight as rock ‘n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis is his original musical GREAT BALLS OF FIRE – co-written with Weslee Swain Lauder, performed another series of sellout concerts at the 1900-seater Teatro at Montecasino and joined the World Tour of Showtime and David Ian’s production of Kander & Ebb’s timeless musical, CHICAGO as the silver-tongued Prince of the Courtoom ‘Billy Flynn’ to sold out houses and rapturous audiences all over China and New Zealand. He flew from Shanghai to Manila to join the current world tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the title role. The tour has played in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia (premiere), Israel (premiere), Dubai (premiere), South Korea and Taiwan. Inbetween the tour dates, Jonathan presented LENNY ANDREW STEVE AND ME and recorded two brand new albums: PHANTASM and SWINGLE BELLS with The Johannesburg Big Band. During the pandemic he headlined his debut series of concerts in Seoul called PHANTASM IN CONCERT with a full orchestra presented by Onyx Productions. Whilst the theatres were dark he presented a multitude of different shows, presentations and performances culminating in his online concert series SHOWSTOPPERS.
He left South Africa and became an exclusive guest entertainer on Seabourn Luxury Cruises – a partnership he continues to today. He recently returned to South Africa with his latest hit show, KEY CHANGE – My Favourite Pianists presented in Johannesburg and Cape Town and broke box office records. A return season is scheduled for later this year.