Jordan Dobson

T-shirt by Hanes. Vintage pants, stylist's own. Rings by Mejuri.

Live from New York: Jordan Dobson

With megahits like The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Evita to his name, Andrew Lloyd Webber is such a towering presence in contemporary musical theater that one might imagine he could be evoked by his first name alone. Such was not the case for Jordan Dobson, who currently stars in Webber's latest Broadway musical, Bad Cinderella. "In one of my auditions, they were like, 'Andrew's going to be in the room,'" the actor laughs, "and I didn't realize they meant Andrew Lloyd Webber. It felt so surreal being like, 'Oh, that's really him, just sitting in the same room that I am.'"

As Prince Sebastian, a confidante rather than a love interest to Linedy Genao's Cinderella in this revisionist version of the classic fairy tale, Dobson admits that, with his lanky build and soft voice, he might not come across as a classic leading man—which is exactly the point. In their kingdom of Belleville, the townsfolk have the preening self-absorption and sculpted physiques of influencers, coupled with an attendant rigid adherence to social standards and expectations. In their refusal to conform, Cinderella and Sebastian—the underestimated younger brother of Prince Charming—offer a rousing rebuttal to the pressure to "fit a square in a round hole," says Dobson. "I didn't fit in growing up in high school, so I hope people realize that it shouldn't just be a Cinderella story—or our version of Cinderella—where you can be truly yourself and not fit into anything else. Any role should be able to be played by people with their authentic soul," he adds. "It gets really hard to fit into a mold that you're not and never will be. My body is my body and how I act is how I act and I feel no reason to change that other than what other people try to put on to me."

In embodying this tale of self-acceptance, Dobson says he learned an important lesson from Webber himself: "not be too precious about anything." That strong sense of self-awareness was critical as soon as rehearsals began, when the actor spent nearly a month learning the role of Sebastian while simultaneously performing eight shows a week on Broadway in A Beautiful Noise, the Neil Diamond jukebox musical. Most weekdays, he spent the full day working with the Bad Cinderella team before jumping on stage to perform, and on Saturdays he would squeeze in more hours in the mornings as well as between his matinee and evening performances. Dobson says he remains grateful to the cast and crew of Bad Cinderella for giving him the space he needed to focus on his exhausting schedule. "It was my first three weeks and these are introductions where you're getting to know people but no one put the pressure on me to be this outgoing person," he laughs. "They were like, 'Hey, we know you're doing double duty, you don't have to put on anything for us.'"

When Bad Cinderella closes early next month, Dobson's time as a prince will come to an end, but he says he hopes that the show's lessons about being true to oneself will continue to resonate. "When you're an outcast, you know both versions of yourself—you know the version of trying to fit in and then you know the version of who you are when you're with your people," he says. "That two-facedness, not in a negative connotation at all but just accessing different parts of yourself, is something I very much relate to and have learned from Sebastian."

Bad Cinderella continues through June 4 at the Imperial Theatre, New York. Read this story and many more in print by ordering our sixth issue here.

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Hair by Rebekah Calo. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Saint Luke Artists. Photographer's assistants: Daniel van der Deen and Mae Stark. Stylist's assistant: Jane Bickford. Makeup artist's assistant: Zac Hart. Model: Jason Pettigrew at We Speak Model Management.

As a nonprofit arts and culture publication dedicated to educating, inspiring, and uplifting creatives, Cero Magazine depends on your donations to create stories like these. Please support our work here.