Columbus Makes Art Presents: Actor Jack Miller on SRO Theatre Company’s Titanic The Musical
Jack Miller is a touring actor with Columbus Children’s Theatre. This month he is playing the doubled role of Jim Farrell and John Thayer in SRO Theatre Company’s production of Titanic The Musical. Peter Stone’s and Maury Yeston’s Tony Award-winning musical runs Feb. 16-25 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Van Fleet Theatre.
Grace: Let’s start with the cliché questions; how long have you been in the Columbus theater scene and how did you get involved?
Jack: I’ve been in the Columbus theater scene for 18 years. I started in 2000 when my mom was in Joseph and kept taking me to rehearsals because my dad was always working late. So I went with her and eventually the director was like, “Hey, Jack, we need another brother.” And then I was suddenly in the show.
Grace: As a professional actor working full time, when did you realize that this was what you wanted to do for a living?
Jack: Interestingly, I was watching Doctor Who and I saw the “Blink” episode with David Tennant. He looked like he was having so much fun doing it that I researched his backstory, and the fact that he got into it because of his love for that character and now he was living his dream, I realized: you know what, I can do that, too.
Grace: What is one of your best learning moments on the Columbus stage?
Jack: When I was in Picnic with Curtain Players directed by Kate Tull, she asked more of me than any other director ever had, and made me think about things more and taught me how to have a through-line in my own head of what my character was going to do, outside of the scenes.
Grace: What has been your favorite memory of the Titanic rehearsal period so far?
Jack: Finding a song I didn’t know was in the show. I did the show fifteen years ago as Jack Thayer, so I didn’t know a lot of what the adults were singing. There’s a scene in the staircase where my character Jim Farrell and Kate McGowan are singing, and I love it. It just sounds so emotional, the way that singing can show more panic and hope in one moment than just saying lines would.
Grace: This show has a lot of deeply emotional material; do you have a particular song or scene that really gets you every time?
Jack: Oh, yes. I first did the show as young Jack Thayer, and now I’m playing John Thayer his father. And there’s a moment when the women and children are getting in the lifeboats where John is reassuring his family that he’ll see them again when he knows he’s going to die. So singing the part from that side, it brings up a lot of memories and it’s just beautiful.
Grace: You have a particular connection to the show in an historic sense; how has that helped shape your performance?
Jack: My great-grandparents came over from Ireland on a White Star ship. My great-grandfather somewhat stowed away, meaning that if they’d chosen the Titanic I wouldn’t exist. So when we’re in the part of the show where the third class is locked below deck, I just have to think of what it would be like to be my ancestors and the panic they would have felt based on stories of their crossing.
Titanic The Musical runs Feb. 16-25 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Van Fleet Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at srotheatre.org or by phone at (614) 427-3324. To volunteer with SRO Theatre please visit our SRO Volunteer Group on Facebook.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.