“This is a Moroccan stew that I made last night. And I brought a cornish game hen. I thought we could have this too since I already made it.” He had been invited to dinner and had earlier asked his host if he should bring anything. He was told that nothing was needed. “Do you like key lime pie? I had one from Trader Joe’s in my freezer so I brought it just in case.”
Welcome to The Jonathan Sharp Show.
Sharp moved from NYC five years ago in search of new horizons. After working on the Broadway stage for 12 years, acting in lead and featured roles as well as in the ensembles of plays and musicals, he needed something new– a new city even, perhaps.
Also in his past was a 6 month stint on the daytime soap Another World and a veritable roller coaster ride in the former Soviet Union as a singing and dancing member of, as he calls it, “The Back Street Boys of Russia.” Don’t ask; he’ll tell you anyway.
Born in Mississippi and trained from the age of 9 in classical dance, he had moved to New York with the dream of dancing for a major ballet company.
Training at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, he went on to dance professionally with the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Boston Ballet. From there he moved on to join the original casts of five Broadway Shows; The Red Shoes, Carousel (for which he won a glowing review from NY Times theater critic Frank Rich and subsequently was drawn by Al Hirschfield,) The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Dance of the Vampires and Fiddler on the Roof.
These days, Sharp has been performing regularly with LA Opera as a dancer, as well as teaching at USC. He still finds time for acting, appearing on Gilmore Girls and Law & Order: SVU, among others.
What do you love about Halloween in Los Angeles?
Well, actually, if I think about my favorite Halloween since I moved here, it would have to be winning LACMA’s Most Glamorous Costume contest two years ago. I was dressed as Frank N. Furter from Rocky Horror. I made the costume with Kirsten Solberg. She was on the costume crew for the Hairspray tour last summer.
What was your costume like?
It was a black leather, ruby rhinestone-studded corset, a small pair of ruby-encrusted lycra hot pants. two mismatched thigh-high fishnets, a pair of black glitter ruby rhinestone slippers– they looked like platform Wizard of Oz shoes in black instead of red. And the piece d’ resistance was a red crushed velvet cape which only covered me to the middle of my thighs. When I opened it, it featured 3500 piallettes– those huge sequins from the ’60s. The collar was red and black crushed velvet and it was to rival the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Yikes. What did you dress up as when you were a kid?
Every year I dressed up, and my grandmother made my costume. I was a very big fan of animals. I was many times a lion or a cat. However, my favorite costume as kid was something my grandmother had made for my dad and myself to wear together. She made matching clown costumes for us from bed sheets and there were like probably 25 pockets on each costume– pockets everywhere. My dad and I would fill the pockets up with candy and go around the neighborhood and pass it out. I love my dad.
Any costume plans for this year?
I would like to have this costume reproduced which I wore last year in the LA Opera production of The Dwarf. It is an elaborate Louis XIV era costume of an English prince. It has a high whisk collar that is over 20 inches side to side. It made my head look like it was on a platter.
What’s your favorite horror of movie?
My favorite childhood horror movie was a BBC TV production called Count Dracula. It was a literal interpretation of Bram Stoker’s novel, which is one of my favorites.
And now that you’re older and wiser, do you have more recent horror movies favorites?
The first remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Donald Sutherland was pivotal. It scared the hell out of me. Afterward when I went home, it turned out to be the first night I ever slept with the lights on.
And the original When a Stranger Calls is my favorite scary movie of all time. Alas, the remake was a frickin’ dud.
You’re obvously a horror fan. What other movies in the genre do you like?
Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Friday the 13th. I mean, look at them– they revitalized the horror genre in their time. The same goes for all of the Wes Craven movies. I auditioned for Beast Master. They told me I was too pretty.
Wow, it sucks to be you. Is there any chracter in a horror movie that you identify with?
I always identify with the villain. Not on a moral level but they’re always the most colorful chracter.
Did you see The Dark Knight?
I really loved it. I thought the way Heath Ledger portrayed The Joker as demented, as opposed to crazy was astonishing– because they’re two different things, you know. He got you to laugh from the perspective of a pathologically obsessed persona. Successfully navigating that is a real challenge for an actor. It can easily veer into high camp.
Speaking of camp, Rocky Horror is a shining example of camp done intelligently. What did you learn from performing in the Broadway revival of that show?
I was cast in the ensemble but I was also principal male understudy for the characters of Rocky and Franken N. Furter so I got to run the gamut. The highlight of the run for me was playing Frank N. Furter to Luke Perry’s Brad. It was his New York theater debut right after his long run on Beverly Hills 90210, which had just ended. His TV fans were very loyal. The show sold out the entire week of his run.
Wow, that must have been crazy.
Yeah, it was pretty intense. On the first night of that week, dozens of his most steadfast fans from Japan showed up at the theater.
Did you feel slighted?
Actually, it put me on their radar and I’ve had a Japanese fan base ever since. On my birthday they send me stuffed Hello Kitty toys and tons of great Japanese candy that you can’t buy here. I love it.
Why did you leave NYC and move to LA?
I was in the biggest flop on Broadway, The Dance of the Vampires, which was a vehicle written for Michael Crawford who had become a huge star in Phantom of the Opera.
It was so taxing for me– 12 costume changes, 7 wig changes and 4 full body make-up changes, and all of this 8 shows per week. It was Hell on earth. After three months of rehearsals, three months of performances and rotten reviews, the show closed.
Literally, within 30 minutes of the announcment of the show’s closing, and with the blessings of good luck, good friends and cell phones, I somehow found a studio apartment for $500 in LA, in Silver Lake next to Mom’s Chinese Chicken and Donuts To Go. I took it without seeing it. And here I am.
What is the major difference between LA and NYC for you?
In NYC, if they hate you, they tell you to your face. In LA, they say, “Let’s do lunch! I can’t wait! I’ll call you!”
Welcome to my world. What’s the scariest thing about Los Angeles?
To a large extent, I’ve found that LA is a city governed by three major powers: fame, beauty and money. Nothing is as scary as the tempers of people hungry to posses any one of them.