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From South Orange Avenue to the Great White Way

B’nai Jeshurun member to star in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Livingston’s Jared Goldsmith, seated, plays Jared Kleinman in the national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen,” here with cast member Ben Levi Ross. 
Courtesy Jared Goldsmith
Livingston’s Jared Goldsmith, seated, plays Jared Kleinman in the national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen,” here with cast member Ben Levi Ross. Courtesy Jared Goldsmith

At age 5, Livingston’s Jared Goldsmith was already a bonafide actor, having worked in commercials, television, film, radio, audio book recording, and theater.

Now 23, he’s going to Broadway’s Music Box Theater to assume the role of Jared Kleinman in the award-winning musical, “Dear Evan Hansen,” beginning Oct. 22. The show opened in the same venue in December 2016, and at the 71st Tony Awards in 2017, it was nominated for nine awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Featured Actress.

“Jared is a perfect Jared Kleinman, and it’s not just because they share the same first name,” producer Stacey Mindich told NJJN in an email. “From day one, he has always truly understood the complicated makeup of this rich and wonderful character.” Goldsmith is taking over the role from Sky Lakota-Lynch.

The theatrical production explores heavy issues many young people face, such as struggles with mental health, anxiety, and social pressures, and has been critically acclaimed over its nearly four-year run on Broadway and the national tour, in which Goldsmith is currently performing, also in the role of Kleinman.

Like most aspiring performers, Goldsmith’s road to the “big leagues” of his profession was long, including a pit stop to celebrate his bar mitzvah at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun (TBJ).

“I officiated at Jared’s bar mitzvah 10 years ago,” said TBJ Cantor Howard Stahl. “I could tell he had a special musical talent, with the type of voice that moved the congregation…. I knew he had the potential to do well.”

The 2014 Livingston High graduate spent a decade of summers at the noted theater camp Stagedoor Manor in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., where his experiences helped him earn his first leading role — at 8 — in the title role of the musical “Oliver,” with the Livingston Community Players. That performance earned him a Perry Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Theatres.

He also performed in many JCC MetroWest and Livingston Middle and High School productions; he was jazz vocalist for the high school’s band. “I like to both sing and act, and certainly mix the two,” he said.

Following high school, Goldsmith spent four years earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Elon University’s music theater program, which College Magazine ranks No. 4 in the United States. Then, Goldsmith said, he got his break.

In August last year, shortly after he graduated, he saw that “Dear Evan Hansen” was holding online auditions through the submission of YouTube videos. “I submitted for the character of Jared and got a call back for ‘Dear Evan Hansen’s’ national tour. I really liked that character, which is Jewish in the play, and what he is all about.”

Goldsmith began playing Kleinman as part of the national tour, scheduled for over 50 cities in the United States and Canada, when it launched in Denver last October. It is presently in Columbus, Ohio, where Goldsmith will leave the tour Sept. 22.

“I really enjoyed the people I worked with and our production being received well in so many cities,” he said. “I’m naturally excited to be going to Broadway. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with the Broadway cast. At 23, about to be on Broadway, I’m doing well.”

Goldsmith said he expects a relatively seamless integration with a different cast.

“I’ve performed as Jared Kleinman dozens of times, and I have all the interactions down with the other actors,” said Goldsmith. “About the only difference is the stage at the Music Box Theater, which is a little narrower than some of the stages in the cities that we played on tour, and it’s a bit slanted. I’ll have about two weeks of rehearsals with the Broadway cast, so we’ll have it all down.”

They’re looking forward to Goldsmith joining their ranks as well, according to Mindich.

“He truly understands Jared’s humor, insecurity, and deep-seated desire to fit in — traits that are shared by Evan, Connor, Alana, Zoe, and Jared — all the young people in the show,” she told NJJN.

Goldsmith hopes this is just the start of his career on Broadway, and would like to get into writing and production. He and best friend Adam Quinn are collaborating on a musical titled “Mazkapan,” which had a successful debut at The Green Room 42, a new cabaret-style spot in Manhattan’s Yotel Hotel, and will be showcased in the upcoming months.

“Adam had the idea for this several years ago, and we’ve been working on this musical for two years,” said Goldsmith. “It’s about two friends who go to a magical town, where they become the Messiah to bring rain. We’ve gotten some recognition; we’ll see where this goes.”

jedweisberger@njjewishnews.com

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