Jason Forbach has always had music in his heart. As a child, he enjoyed listening to music with his headphones and singing along. As he grew, he knew that music was the passion he wanted to pursue. He studied Opera at the New England Conservatory and thought that was the musical path he would take.
Later, Jason headed to New York City and tried his hand at musical theatre. It wasn’t long after arriving in NYC that Jason got his first big break and later a new opportunity to perform in Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas.
After 3 years in Vegas, Jason returned to NYC and landed a role in the U.S. Touring Production of LES MISÉRABLES. As Jason continues his role as Enjolras, he sees it as a chance to giveback and share the music he loves so much. Jason is in San Francisco for 7 weeks while LES MISÉRABLES plays at the Orpheum, I had a chance to speak with him and have him share his interests, talents and passion.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from Kansas City. I grew up there. I was more of a music kid. I had done some theatre in high school but I was always split between lots of different interests. I was initially a photography major. I was working in different publications. I was writing, was a pianist, I played in the marching band so I was all over the place. I didn’t know that theatre would be my life’s work even though it was one of my passions. It took me awhile to discover that. I went to school initially as a journalism major with an emphasis in photography, then I got two music degrees. I got my Bachelor’s in Voice from the University of Missouri in Colombia then I received my Master’s in Boston at New England Conservatory. Even then I thought maybe I would go down an opera career path. It wasn’t until about a year and a half after grad school that I decided to scrap everything and start from square one and see what a world in musical theatre would be like. I left grad school in 2003. As soon as I left grad school I started working at the Boston Lyric Opera. I did a summer program with the Central City Opera as one of their apprentice artists. After having those professional experiences after school, I realized that I didn’t feel like it was a hundred percent of a right fit. On a whim in the fall of 2004, I decided to move to New York. It was spring of 2005 when I really thought, “Why don’t I try this?” I didn’t know how to put a resume together or get the right headshots. I had to learn really quickly what songs to sing at auditions and how to make a 16 bar cut. At that age, most young people had been to the city right out of undergrad and had tried and given up or had already become successful. I felt like I was getting a later start than most that were trained for this specifically. It taught me that there’s no appropriate timeline. You can decide for yourself. If you really want to do something, you can do it at any age, at any time and it will all still be there for you.
What was your first big break?
My first big break was an off-Broadway play. It was by happenstance. I had dinner with a friend of mine with whom I had sung with at Boston Air Opera. He introduced me to someone who was looking for young people that could sing opera for this play which had this weird opera in the middle of it. I told him I wasn’t doing opera anymore that I was trying to do theatre. He thought I was perfect for it and told me I should go in. It was New Group and I was just learning how prestigious of a theatre company that was in New York. It was written by Wallace Shawn who is so much a part of the New York theatre elite. It was co-written with his brother. It was a very big project and it was very avant-garde. The reception was mixed but it got me my Equity Card and it got me into the theatre. I met so many amazing people. One night Mike Nichols would be in the house the next night it would be Lou Reed. It was always an interesting theatre crowd. We did the cast recording. Through that show I met my agent whom I have been with ever since. Ever since that experience, it has been a magical pairing. I always think that was the thing that changed my life. It was this kind of quirky strange play that people loved or hated. It was a really fun wonderful experience.